Integrating Handshake into the Student Experience

Hannah Adams
April 6, 2021

Integrate vs Consolidate

Institutions buy solutions that have functional jobs to do and, often, those jobs are department-specific. Take your careers team: it probably has an appointment scheduling system and then has an employer CRM. Imagine how much more value you’d get if they were integrated with your student system. When a student books a 1:1 appointment with a careers advisor, their student profile and relevant information would be automatically shared with, and available through, the careers management system. The number of different stakeholders that are engaging with the system make it too challenging  for generic systems to handle. This helps explain why career management systems, particularly those architected as a network, need to be dedicated fit-for purpose systems that integrate with university wide CRMs, and aren't replaced by them. 

From Transactional to Relational

We are now entering the third generation of career management platforms, which have followed the same trend as other technologies, only slower. Technologies start as a direct digitisation of offline content over time, and these experiences are fundamentally reimagined to unlock the possibility of technology. One of the most important reasons for institutional leaders caring about integration is that it enables more personalised virtual 1:1 connections and targeted student experiences.

How Handshake integrates careers content 

At Handshake, we think about integrating seamlessly with university-wide systems in three primary ways:

1. Using RSS feeds to Integrate Handshake content into other university pages with custom branding. 

Careers services can display information such as events, jobs, and career fairs automatically from Handshake on external websites, even social media. A case study institution called James Madison University over in the US, saw 77% more student logins to Handshake within one month of launching job feeds using RSS.

2. Using ICS feeds to bring calendar data into university systems.

Careers services can bring employability related events into university calendaring systems with the industry standard ICS feed. When employers and other stakeholders have events on campus or online, the ICS feed can be used to collect and share the careers event information in your students calendars as well as via the Handshake mobile application. 

3. Using scheduled reports to automatically bring data into a data warehouse with limited coding. 

Exporting data from Handshake to other universities systems automatically with Handshake Insights. Integration of student data enables career advisors to see the whole picture of the students employability journey. Some universities have also increased student engagement by using scheduled reports to collate data enabling  early identification of non-engaged students.

Scheduled exports vs. API

A large majority of universities that we talk to are resource constrained on the IT side of things. This has only been amplified over the last year with the shift to virtual. Whilst Handshake recognises APIs to be the industry standard, we made the conscious decision to introduce the exciting and new concept of scheduled exports instead. Universities can now maintain one codebase to pull almost any data, which can then be tailored by use case. 

Handshake
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Integrating Handshake into the Student Experience

Hannah Adams

March 18, 2021

Why integration matters

The integration of different systems into a student's experience is the future of higher education modernisation. The student experience landscape is made up of a variety of touchpoints in high level areas for engagement, but the most important thing is that they all seamlessly talk to each other. At Handshake, we believe purpose built systems offer the best student experience because, in our view,  one of the most effective ways to engage students is to meet them where they’re at. Handshake combines a sophisticated career management platform with the benefits of an early career network. And the results speak for themselves. Handshake unites over 1000 education partners, 17M students, and 500,000 employers on 1 career network across the US and UK.

Integrate vs Consolidate

Institutions buy solutions that have functional jobs to do and, often, those jobs are department-specific. Take your careers team: it probably has an appointment scheduling system and then has an employer CRM. Imagine how much more value you’d get if they were integrated with your student system. When a student books a 1:1 appointment with a careers advisor, their student profile and relevant information would be automatically shared with, and available through, the careers management system. The number of different stakeholders that are engaging with the system make it too challenging  for generic systems to handle. This helps explain why career management systems, particularly those architected as a network, need to be dedicated fit-for purpose systems that integrate with university wide CRMs, and aren't replaced by them. 

From Transactional to Relational

We are now entering the third generation of career management platforms, which have followed the same trend as other technologies, only slower. Technologies start as a direct digitisation of offline content over time, and these experiences are fundamentally reimagined to unlock the possibility of technology. One of the most important reasons for institutional leaders caring about integration is that it enables more personalised virtual 1:1 connections and targeted student experiences.

How Handshake integrates careers content 

At Handshake, we think about integrating seamlessly with university-wide systems in three primary ways:

1. Using RSS feeds to Integrate Handshake content into other university pages with custom branding. 

Careers services can display information such as events, jobs, and career fairs automatically from Handshake on external websites, even social media. A case study institution called James Madison University over in the US, saw 77% more student logins to Handshake within one month of launching job feeds using RSS.

2. Using ICS feeds to bring calendar data into university systems.

Careers services can bring employability related events into university calendaring systems with the industry standard ICS feed. When employers and other stakeholders have events on campus or online, the ICS feed can be used to collect and share the careers event information in your students calendars as well as via the Handshake mobile application. 

3. Using scheduled reports to automatically bring data into a data warehouse with limited coding. 

Exporting data from Handshake to other universities systems automatically with Handshake Insights. Integration of student data enables career advisors to see the whole picture of the students employability journey. Some universities have also increased student engagement by using scheduled reports to collate data enabling  early identification of non-engaged students.

Scheduled exports vs. API

A large majority of universities that we talk to are resource constrained on the IT side of things. This has only been amplified over the last year with the shift to virtual. Whilst Handshake recognises APIs to be the industry standard, we made the conscious decision to introduce the exciting and new concept of scheduled exports instead. Universities can now maintain one codebase to pull almost any data, which can then be tailored by use case. 

Our prediction for the future of the student experience 

Built for purpose systems that focus on offering the absolute best user experience in their area of focus, brought together by a university-wide CRM system, achieve the best results. Over in the US, James Madison University found that using Handshake had a huge impact on student engagement, and resulted in:

  • 57% more applications to jobs and internships on Handshake
  • 77% more total logins to Handshake
  • 378% more page views to the Career Centre “Jobs by Course” website


Integration isn’t a one time investment, it’s a mindset and a culture change. Your integrations are going to evolve with your solutions and with your institution over time. At Handshake, we hope to continue to be a part of that journey.

Learn More

To find out more about how Handshake makes it easy to surface content across other university systems, you can watch our webinar: Integrating Handshake into the Student Experience

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