As part of a new initiative to increase transparency surrounding student employment, the Financial Aid Office, which houses the Student Employment Office, will now require all student positions to be posted on Handshake, an online job search platform that the University purchased for student use.
Until recently, student employment positions were mostly found under “Available Positions,” a subsection of the University’s Financial Aid webpage. The webpage included available positions, but it was not a functional platform where students could apply, as students had to email the listed contact person in order to be considered for the position. WSA President Justin Ratkovic ’20, who was involved in the meetings discussing the Handshake rollout, said that the existing system was rarely updated and had other inadequacies, but that the new system will be beneficial for new students and those on work-study.
“Basically, you kinda had to know where jobs were available and then know someone in order to get the job,” Ratkovic said. “Especially freshman year, I had work-study, and it was super hard to find a job on campus because the actual website where the job postings were supposed to be was never updated. So one of the big things that this is hopefully going to do is make it super clear, super easy, for everyone to just know where all the jobs are going to be located and then have the details of whether the position is available for work-study students, whether it will be non-work-study because there are some small differences in whether it’s federal or school work-study. Between all of that and then the ease of access and clarity, I think that having it on Handshake will be better.”
For a variety of reasons, Director of Financial Aid Robert Coughlin believed it would be beneficial to use Handshake for student employment opportunities.
“Handshake became the obvious choice as it was a product: (1) that the University (i.e., the Career Center) had already purchased and was currently using for internship and post-graduate employment opportunities; (2) that has a Student Employment component as part of its standard package; (3) that had received positive reviews from peer schools who utilize Handshake as their Student Employment platform; and (4) that Wesleyan students were already familiar with accessing via the Career Center,” Coughlin wrote in an email to The Argus.
The transfer of student employment positions to Handshake will happen in two phases. The first phase began last spring and centered on faculty and staff.
“This phase is focused on training supervisors on accessing and using Handshake, and training office staff on collecting, reviewing and loading all student job descriptions into Handshake,” Coughlin wrote.
The second phase will begin later this academic year, giving students that are registered on Handshake full access to various student employment positions. Coughlin encourages students to begin that process now so they will have access to the positions when the full rollout is complete. Coughlin believes that the set timeline is necessary to ensure that all positions can be posted on Handshake before the rollout begins.
Coughlin also explained that the application process for student employment positions will be similar to the process for other jobs on Handshake. There are no prerequisites, however, like those that exist for many other jobs listed on the platform.
“The application process for students is as simple as checking a box that will inform a supervisor of a student’s interest in a position,” Coughlin wrote. “However, many departments may indicate additional requirements in the job description, such as submitting a resume or cover letter, before an applicant will be considered for a position.”
Earlier this year, the WSA passed a resolution outlining a Student Workers’ Bill of Rights. While Coughlin stated that the Handshake implementation was developed separately from this resolution, many of the organizations involved in the passage of the Bill of Rights have also been involved in the transition to Handshake.
“The Financial Aid Office has been discussing the idea of a centralized Student Employment position posting database with a variety of student groups for some time, including members of the WSA, the First Gen/Low Income Task Force and PAWS,” Coughlin wrote. “Since one of the reasons for moving to Handshake is to improve the student employment experience, the Financial Aid Office formed a working group last year to analyze the student employment experience more comprehensively. This group includes administrators, supervisors, and students (including those from the WSA, PAWS and the Resource Center).”
Ratkovic consulted with Coughlin and the Financial Aid Office to discuss the move to Handshake. They met with representatives for students like PAWS and WSA, as well as representatives from the administration, the Resource Center, and major employers on campus. According to Ratkovic, this consultation period helped to improve the system further.
“On Handshake, as it is now, you’re basically required to have a resume in order to do anything, and that’s not true for Wesleyan-specific job,” Ratkovic said. “Another thing was what information would be available. So PAWS and everyone involved likes the fact that you can look at the data and you can see who’s working where, if there’s terminations, what everything is.”
Coughlin hopes the integration will ease the process for students finding jobs.
“The Financial Aid Office team is very excited to be offering this valuable resource to all students, financial aid recipients and non-financial aid recipients alike,” Coughlin wrote. “We hope that having a comprehensive database of all student employment opportunities at Wesleyan will bring greater transparency as to what jobs are available to students, clarify responsibilities with detailed job descriptions, and provide better information on pay rates for each position. Overall, we hope that the use of Handshake will reduce the stress students have experienced searching for, and obtaining, jobs.”
Correction: An earlier version of this article said that students must attend a training session in order to get access to the Handshake system; that is incorrect and has been removed. Positions will be available later this academic year, not this semester.
Jordan Saliby can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.