Handshake – The Road to Our Future Careers

Handshake was founded in 2013 by Garrett Lord, Ben Christensen, and Scott Ringwelski at Michigan Technological University. Considering Michigan Tech is located about 8 hours away from any major city, not many companies recruited their engineering students. The founders of Handshake wanted to level the playing field and create a product that gave all students equal opportunities for their dream jobs, regardless of what school they went to. Today, Handshake has 475 schools, 8 million students and young alumni, and over 200,000 employers on their career network. The company works to help every student build a meaningful career, despite their school, major, or personal connections. With the mission to democratize opportunity for all, Handshake received $10.6 million in Series A funding led by Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers in addition to a Series B funding of $20 million led by Spark Capital. Handshake consists of desktop products for employers, career services, and students in addition to a newly launched iOS mobile app designed specifically for students.

This past summer, I worked as an account management intern for Handshake and was thrilled to visit the company again on Villanova in the Valley. When I joined Handshake in the summer, they had 180 schools on the platform and their growth within the short 3 months that I worked with their team was astounding. Handshake’s team is an extremely passionate, intelligent group of individuals who are all committed to helping students. Across the engineering, product, people, and customer success teams, every employee at Handshake comes from a unique background. I am grateful for the opportunity to have worked with such an amazing group of people that helped me grow not only as a professional but also as a person. Working with people who have attended schools across the entire country, with people who have lived and worked across the entire world, and with people who have had experience in everything from a small startup to a giant corporation made me motivated to put my best foot forward at work every day. This diversity at Handshake is not only a reason for making the overall team so great, but also why the company is able to help so many students. People who are hired at Handshake all have the mission of democratizing opportunity in common and are able to create a product that can help students’ dreams come true based on their own past experiences.

During our visit at Handshake’s headquarters in San Francisco, the group met with Shannon Hittson, a University Partnerships Manager, Katie Williams, the Head of University Account Management, Jonathan Lu, the Product Manager for Handshake’s Student Product, and Ben Christensen, one of the founders of the company. They spoke with us about what it is like to work at Handshake, and Katie and Ben in particular shared how the company has evolved in the many years that they have been on the team. I was thrilled to see that the Villanova in the Valley cohort saw the passion and creativity of these wonderful individuals that I am honored to work with every day.