Handshake 101: Using the UC Davis Career Services Platform

By: Alejandra Hernandez

Handshake is the online platform the UC Davis Internship and Career Center (ICC) uses for students and alumni to connect with employers and find job or internship opportunities. As spring approaches, it is important for students to understand how they can utilize Handshake to make the most of their college experience. As a career advisor, I use Handshake every day to connect to students through appointments and workshops, as well as to learn a little more about students’ interests, skills and experiences. Keep reading for five tips that will help your student leverage Handshake to discover career openings, company events and exciting experiential learning opportunities!

Tip #1 - Students should complete their Handshake profiles

Whether your Aggie is a first-year or recent graduate, I recommend they update their Handshake profiles to incorporate their major, campus involvement, experience (paid & unpaid), group projects, transferable skills and a professional profile picture. Handshake profiles can help recruiters and hiring managers find suitable candidates for positions they post through the Handshake platform. The ICC has compiled an easy checklist to help your student fill out their profile.

Tip #2 - Network with peers or alumni

I like to say that your network is your net worth. It’s not always what you know, but who you know that can open up an opportunity or teach you a little more about yourself. As such, it’s important for students to get comfortable with networking, and Handshake is the perfect place to start. Once your student updates their Handshake profile, I encourage them to take a peek at other student profiles and use filters to find peers in their major, in their academic year, or who volunteer at an organization of interest. Handshake even offers pre-populated messages they can send their peers to start a conversation. I recommend visiting the networking page on the ICC website to learn more about what to ask and how to follow up.

Tip #3 - Continuously look for internship or job opportunities

Employers and professors around campus post positions on Handshake every day. Students should browse through job postings weekly, and use filters in order to learn more about different organizations and the minimum qualifications for their desired positions. Most roles on Handshake will require a resume and/or cover letter, so students should also consider visiting the ICC website to learn more about how to draft these documents.

Tip #4 - Attend at least one event per quarter

While all our events are currently virtual, ICC staff members host workshops on an array of topics, including transferable skills, cover letter writing, video interviewing and much more. Employers also post events on Handshake, which are great opportunities for your student to start practicing their networking skills or learn a little more about a company or organization. The ICC uses Handshake to host several internship and career fairs each year. Our fairs give recruiters the opportunity to share current positions with students, as well as teach them about employer expectations within their chosen fields. We encourage your student to engage with the ICC early and often. Students are welcome to attend fairs, even if they are not ready to pursue an internship or career.

Tip #5 - Schedule an appointment with a career advisor

Last but not least, I encourage your student to schedule an appointment with a career advisor through Handshake. We can practice interviews, give them feedback on their resumes and cover letters, talk to them about their career goals, show them resources to help them discover what they can do with their major, and inform them of any events that may fit their interests. My goal as a career advisor is for students to leave our session happier and more confident because they have more information than when they arrived and at least one action step they know they can take; we look forward to seeing your student here soon!

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