The ACU Career Center is replacing College Central Network with a new database called Handshake, which will go live for students June 30. College Central Network was a site for students to look for jobs and internships but most students found it not so user-friendly.
Jill Fortson, director of the ACU Career Center, said although the College Central Network was a good system, “I just think we need to take the next step to provide a lot more opportunities for our students than we are now and this is the way to do that.”
College Central Network was used for about three years and will be active until July 1. There are 1,882 students out of about 4,500 who have completed the registration and are using College Central Network, said Fortson.
Fortson said there was nothing wrong with the old site but once the three-year contract with College Central Network was up, “a lot of times you will look out to see some other things that can do more, so it was just a natural cycle.”
The ACU Career Center wasn’t thinking of changing to a new system until Handshake was brought up to Fortson’s attention by faculty and other people on campus. “One of the main reasons that we were interested in looking at it is because it would automatically bring over 180 thousand employers to be able to be viewed by our students and also to encourage them to starting hiring our students,” said Fortson.
Maddock May, senior accounting and finance major from Carrollton, works at the career center and on top of using the College Central Network every day, he has also gotten two internships through the site.
May, who has received some online training for Handshake, compared the system to Facebook and LinkedIn because you can create a profile for employers to look at.
“I think one thing, it will look at more opportunities for people who don’t have the specific employer they are looking for in College Central Network but in Handshake you can look up specific employers. Even if the job isn’t posted specific on ACU, you can still – if it’s a public job – apply to it, which is kind of nice.”
Many students have mixed feelings about the College Central Network not being user-friendly or not helpful enough to find the right job or internship.
Kaylan Johnson, a recent ACU graduate, said as a student for two-and-a-half years, she only used College Central Network about one to three times per semester. After graduation, she’s used it about three times.
“I don’t like how non-user-friendly it is, how limited it felt and how it seemed like it was just one more thing to keep up with,” said Johnson. If Handshake were more user-friendly, Johnson said that might help students and herself to use it. However, she did like that it was specific to companies that were seeking ACU students because it narrowed down the pool of candidates and competition from the student’s perspective.
“Also, if it could take the place, at least in some ways, of LinkedIn, maybe it wouldn’t feel so stressful to keep up with,” Johnson said. “Or maybe they just need to develop the strategy and presentation of how they encourage students to use a database like this.”
Unlike College Central Network, Handshake will be more flexible, customizable and user-friendly for all users.
Fortson said they expect to have more student engagement with Handshake because it’s easier for students to engage with the site, “and also you can now log in using your single sign-on, it’s going to be integrated with banner, it’s gonna be great and it’s going to be a really easy implementation in the process as well.”
“I really like how innovative they are and I really like how quick they are, if I ask a question, bam they are on it, that will help us a lot,” Fortson said about Handshake.
Handshake was created in 2014 by a couple of students from Michigan Tech who wanted to reach out to employers outside of the Midwest and since then it’s been growing and helping small college campuses get equal access to opportunities.
“I think that this is going to give us the opportunity to reach out to some of those who have never heard of Abilene Christian University, little known Abilene, Texas, and now once they engage, even if it’s through Handshake, I’m excited to see what the possibilities are and how much doors it’s going to open for our students in places they haven’t been able to go before,” said Fortson.
In addition to the employers the ACU Career Center currently has, there is already an apparent interest that Fortson has seen from several employers, many of them are ACU alumni that work for corporations and are using the system because they want to recruit at ACU already.
“So I think this really aligns with what we are wanting to go for in the future, to really bring more opportunities for students, not just the typical way it’s always been done,” said Fortson. “We want to really try to think ahead and this system is taking career centers in that direction.”