Career Services: Making Connections with Virtual Handshakes

During these socially–distanced times of COVID, we have chosen to forgo the traditional handshake to help eliminate the spread of germs. But SAU’s Career Services is keeping the handshake alive – at least virtually – to provide a platform for students and alumni to connect and find resources to benefit them both.

Handshake is an online career management tool designed for college students, alumni and employers. It offers networking opportunities, job postings and is the means by which SAU students can access all of the resources available through the Office of Career Services. Setting up an account with Handshake is free to all SAU students and alumni.

“Our goal is to help students transition from the classroom to their career,” said Anne Sands, director of Career Services. “We also want to help connect students with alumni as well as keep alumni engaged with SAU. We can use Handshake to help make all of this happen.”

SAU offers free Handshake accounts to all students. Currently, 950 students have activated their Handshake account. Through this account, students have access to available positions at more than 400,000 companies. They can apply for internships and take part in career fairs. They can also use Handshake to connect with Career Services and take advantage of the many resources they offer.

“I tell students that they will learn what they need to know about their specific field in their classes,” Sands said, “but we can teach them the skills they need regardless of where they work.”

Career Services offers career readiness skills by providing guidance on interview skills, resume preparation and how to network. All of the services provided by Career Services are free.

“Alumni can have an account through SAU for free as well,” Sands said. “They can have an individual account if they are looking for a job or a company account if they are looking to hire staff. If alumni have open positions at their company, they can notify Career Services, and we can help connect them with students who would qualify for their positions.”

All of the jobs on Handshake are meant for new college graduates. This makes it an ideal resource to connect employers with graduates.

“We want to help facilitate relationships between our students and our alumni,” Sands said. “I feel like there is no one better to lead a student than someone who has been in their shoes on the other side.”

Career Services also hosts regular events to highlight different alumni or have students speak on past internships they have completed. These events are open to all students and have been done through Zoom during COVID.

Pre-COVID, Career Services began an initiative to connect alumni with students: AIM – Alumni Inspiring Muleriders. “Initially it was developed as a job shadowing program to allow our students to connect with an alum in their field and shadow them for a day to gain a better understanding of what jobs in their specific field entailed,” Sands explained. “But COVID put a stop to that, so we had to adapt to doing things virtually. We are still using the AIM program but more as a mentorship opportunity, and it is working really well; we hope to get more alumni involved in this program.”

Sands encourages any alumni who are interested in participating in the AIM program or connecting with students through Handshake to contact the Career Services office at www.saumag.edu/career-services or via email at CareerServices@saumag.edu.

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