My Summer at Handshake: Putting Myself in the Shoes of All Students

No one gets through the job search alone. As a student at University of Maryland, I’ve relied on the continuous support of my peers to help me navigate every internship cycle. This experience drew me to intern with Team Handshake. This summer, I made it my mission to give students that same peer-to-peer support within the Handshake community. As a growth engineer, I focused on building features that maximize student-to-student interaction, motivated by data on how students use our product.

Move Quickly But Don’t Rush

When I first started at Handshake, I quickly began prototyping features that the team had brainstormed, and was eager to launch all of our team’s amazing product ideas to students. However, at times this same excitement and bias towards action led me to gloss over the most important aspect of software development: whether students would actually use what we wanted to build.

Over the course of the summer, my teammates at Handshake taught me what living our core value “Focus on Impact” looks like in action: I learned that building just one feature that makes a huge impact on millions of students matters way more than how many new features you build. I realized that before I started building, I would need to conduct user research and gather data to help us understand how students use Handshake, and what they want.

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Coding with Empathy

As a developer, it’s important to put myself in the shoes of the user. In this case, I wanted to make sure I grounded my work with all student experiences in mind. After brainstorming ideas, I began interviewing a wide range of students about their experiences with the job search process. Every step of the way, I’d consider where our assumptions came from and what key pieces of data guided each approach or decision. By interviewing students with diverse backgrounds, experiences, and perspectives, we learned a lot about what students want, which helped us brainstorm many potential features we could build and test to make the job search process easier for all students.

This research resulted in the following features that Handshake launched this Fall for all students:

  • Share Jobs with Friends: With the hopes of cultivating that peer-to-peer support and connection, we integrated a new feature that would make it easier for students to share jobs and events with their friends. With one touch, you can help surface a great opportunity for your friend!
  • Refer Friends to Handshake: Students can support their friends by encouraging them to use Handshake, providing access to career opportunities and support! Students are encouraged to support each other through the opportunity for both a student and their friend to receive a scholarship
  • Smooth First-Impression: We wanted to ensure Handshake made a great first impression for all students. We developed a more streamlined login process that gets students logged in without a hitch and finding jobs faster!

I’m grateful that I gained experience with rapid prototyping and user research as an intern at Handshake. In addition to the hard skills I developed, I learned what it meant to be a member of a truly mission-driven team and company culture. It doesn’t matter if you’re an engineer or a sales representative, the “Students First” attitude drives the entire team at Handshake, and I loved being a part of it.

Interested in joining #TeamHandshake? Explore open roles!