Connecting PIT Students and Employers: Handshake and USAJobs

Blog Post
Dec. 8, 2020

While public interest technology (PIT) is a burgeoning discipline, it can be difficult to find a job in the field. The scarcity, in part, is due to the lack of a single point of reference or job board where candidates and employers can connect. Handshake, an app with more than 14 million students and young alumni, is looking to change that, though. Two of the company’s employees, education product marketing manager Britt Gergen and relationship manager Chelsea Romaine presented at the Thursday, November 12 session of the 2020 Public Interest Technology University Convening (PITUN2020), explaining what Handshake is and how it can be used to find and connect with PIT-centered employers.

The session was only one of several geared toward students and recent graduates who might be interested in a PIT career. For instance, Partnership for Public Service representatives Brittany Moore, manager, Michelle Amante, VP of Federal Workforce Programs, and associate Leia Washington presented on Friday, November 13 why people should consider a civil service career and how to navigate the federal application process.

Handshake launched in 2013 after its founders realized that talent is distributed evenly but opportunity is not, according to Romaine. “Handshake was founded to ensure all students have the chance to find their perfect job,” she explains. “If employers wanted to connect with universities and students they would need to log in separately to multiple systems. It was a long and tedious process that only reached a fraction of students that were qualified.” The app connects students, universities, and employers, giving students access to not only job listings and interviews, but also giving employers access to those who may fit the PIT criteria but may not consider themselves PIT practitioners—or even PIT practitioners-in-training.

The app, says Gergen, also allows employers to see exactly which actions students are taking in the platform—which jobs they've applied to, events they've attended, and companies they've submitted reviews for. “Taken together this information can help [employers] identify segments of students who might be interested in PIT opportunities. Handshake’s analytics tools make it really easy to dig into all of that data and see how it intersects.” Students who are looking for PIT-related jobs can use the analytics tools to find employers and build relationships with them.

Andreen Soley, director of the New America PIT-UN says these types of programs help PIT-focused students find jobs more quickly and learn about what’s available in the field. “Our goal in engaging the teams at USAJobs and Handshake at the convening was to ensure that our community of students and administrators better understood the capacity of these two tools to aid in the career pipeline and placement field building activities of the Network,” she explains.

Going forward, PITUN members can expect to hear more from both USAJobs and Handshake in 2021, says Soley. “I want to deepen our engagement with both organizations, so that their platforms can be more responsive to the needs of the PIT students and job seekers in technology and policy, in general." If you missed this session, please click through to watch the presentation here. The entire video playlist of #PITUN2020 can be found here.