Handshake is a tool that connects students and alumni directly with employers and opportunities, along with career advisors and career-related events and workshops. Handshake was created with students in mind and hosts the largest number of opportunities specifically for students and new college graduates.
More than 102,000 opportunities posted last year
In 2022-2023, employers posted 102,633 opportunities to VCU’s Handshake platform, including jobs, internships, cooperative education, experiential learning, fellowships, graduate school programs and assistantships, on-campus student employment and volunteer opportunities.
Jobs and on-campus employment
Experiential learning and volunteering
Fellowships and graduate programs
How to use Handshake
For tips on using Handshake, select a topic below:
Your Handshake account is automatically created 48 hours after you have registered for courses in the next/upcoming semester at VCU – we make it easy for you! Please do not manually create an account as it will not sync properly with VCU systems.
Claim your account
Finish setting up your account using your vcu.edu email address:
- Go to https://joinhandshake.com/
- Click the blue button Sign up in the upper-right corner of the page.
- Enter your vcu.edu email address, then click the blue button Next.
- Click the blue button Get Started. Be sure to navigate through all six steps (they’re quick!) to fully launch your account.
If an account hasn’t been created for you, or you need further assistance, please email email@example.com.
Complete your profile to highlight your interests, skills and studies
Make your profile more appealing to prospective employers by filling out all the different sections. VCU preloads some of your information based on data from Banner. Check to be sure all preloaded information is correct, especially your major and GPA; if you find any errors, contact Career Services at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Follow these steps to make your profile as complete as possible:
- Fill out your Work & Volunteer Experience. Make sure your experiences have a Job title, Employer/Organization, Time Period and Location.
- Add Organizations & Extracurricular activities.
- Add multiple skills, as well as courses and projects.
- Upload your documents, including a resume and cover letter. Need help getting started on these? Schedule an appointment with one of our Career Advisors!
- Complete “Your Interests” for job type, job location, and job role. 80% of students who share their interests get a message from a recruiter. Handshake also uses your job interests to recommend opportunities to you. You can update these preferences as often as you like for a customized feed.
- Add a professional profile picture. Don’t have one yet? Career Services can help!
Update your profile regularly. Take time every semester to make sure your profile is up-to-date.
Set up career advising appointments
You can make appointments with career counselors/advisors through Handshake. Once logged into Handshake, Click "Career Center.” Click Appointments, then Schedule a New Appointment. Select VCU Career Services. (If you are a School of Business or College of Engineering student, you will be directed to schedule with your respective office.) Select your desired appointment type (major/career advising, document review, etc.), then click different dates to see availability. You can meet with any member of our Career Counseling & Advising team, regardless of specialty. Finish scheduling by selecting your appointment medium (video, phone, or email (if applicable)).
Sign up for events and workshops
From topical workshops and presentations to on-campus interviews and career fairs, VCU Career Services works to get you “career ready” and connect you with employers and alumni throughout the school year.
Events: Click the “Events” tab on the Handshake homepage to see upcoming events. If you are looking for a specific type of event, you can search upcoming events using the filters available or with the “Event Search” icon. Some events have limited space and require you to preregister; you can pre-register for an event by clicking on the “Register” or “External Registration” on the event page.
Career Fairs: To see upcoming career fairs, click on "Category" on the events page, then check off the “Career Fair” box and select “View Results.” Click on the name of the fair for which you would like to see more information. If you want to register, click on "+ Join Event" in the top right of the page. If you would like to view employers who will be attending the fair, click on the blue button for “See More Employers” to see a full list of registered employers with detailed employer descriptions and additional details.
Search for jobs and internships
With thousands of organizations posting jobs and internships on the platform, Handshake can be an incredibly powerful tool for you, but possibly a bit overwhelming on first glance. Taking some time to understand Handshake's search functionality will help you identify the best opportunities for you.
Start by clicking on Jobs in the left navigation bar. The Job Search page will load by default. On this page, there are various options available to view available opportunities and narrow down your search. You can adjust filters to tailor your search – click on “All filters” to select the options that are important to you. Don’t forget to use VCU-specific labels (under “Labeled by your school”), including “GRTC Accessible,” “Walking Distance Monroe Park,” and “Walking Distance MCV”. Once you've added all desired search criteria, click See Jobs in the lower-right corner of the search/filter box.
If you want to receive alerts when more jobs in your search are posted, you'll have to save your search. To save your search, click on "Save your search", located above the list of jobs that appear on the left of the page. A pop-up will appear in the lower-right corner of the page that confirms "job alert created", and the box with "Save your search" will now provide a link to "Edit your notifications".
To ensure the best experience with Handshake, do your due diligence and research all organizations you are interested in. Check out the organization website listed on their Handshake profile to see what you can learn about their culture and their business model. If they have a list of staff members, see if you can find the name of the recruiter listed on the job posting.
Be sure to check employer reviews written by other students on Handshake. These reviews allow you to:
- Explore careers and make decisions with more information
- Get advice specific to the companies and roles you’re interested in
- Gain insight into company culture, mentorship, and learning, which is often harder to gauge
Don’t accept a job you didn’t apply to and/or didn’t require an interview or the organization that gives you one day to accept. Any reputable employer normally requires an interview (and more) before hiring. Put your excitement on pause. Speak with a trusted person about your interaction with the organization and documents you are asked to sign. Keep copies of all communication. Review these best practices for staying safe when applying for opportunities.
If something feels “too good to be true,” be suspicious. You may see a job on Handshake that says you can "make $300 in a day from home.” Large sums of money for minimal work is a common tactic that a scammer will use to lure students in and steal your information.
If you encounter an employer that elicits concern, you have the ability to alert Handshake’s Fraud Team by flagging the employer in Handshake.
For more industry-specific ideas of where and how to research employers, check out VCU Career Services’ career pathways pages.
Applying for jobs
When you are ready to apply, click on “Apply,” “Quick Apply,” or “Apply Externally,” as applicable for that particular job. Here is the difference between those choices:
- Quick Apply: indicates that you meet all employer preferences and either there are no documents required for that job posting or there is only one document required (a resume), and you have at least one approved or pending resume uploaded.
- Apply: indicates that one or more of the following are true: you don't meet all of the employer preferences; at least one document is required and you don't have any documents uploaded; more than one document is required; or you are accessing a job via Saved that has an external application.
- Apply Externally: will open a new browser page with the application hosted on a site outside of Handshake. You will receive an email confirmation of application from Handshake once this button is clicked, but you will have to complete the application on the external site in order to fully apply. The employer will not receive your application if you do not apply through the external website.
If you are not ready to apply for a job, you can click the star next to the job title to save the post to your favorites list. Handshake will send you notifications about any jobs in your favorites list. You can access your favorites by clicking “My Favorite Jobs” on the job search page.
Six reasons to use Handshake
1. Apply where you have the advantage.
Handshake is the only place that connects you, VCU and employers together. You’ll find jobs and internships posted specifically for VCU students.
2. Recruiters want to talk to you.
Organizations on Handshake can message students with event invites, interview requests and new opportunities. Last year, recruiters sent more than 16 million direct messages to students.
3. Gain the relevant experience you need.
The jobs on Handshake are meant for students like you, so you can get the experience you want and need – whether that’s volunteering, experiential learning, fellowships or part-time jobs.
4. Find the right opportunity for you.
When you fill out your Handshake profile, you will automatically see opportunities that match your interests and skills. You may even discover a new career path or an organization you hadn’t considered.
5. Start earning right away.
If your top priority right now is finding a part-time position on or off campus, Handshake is the best place to find VCU-approved Federal Work-Study positions, paid undergraduate research opportunities, and local and remote part-time jobs.
6. Connect to the organizations you want to work for.
All of the top employers are recruiting students on Handshake, including Fortune 500, startups, nonprofits and more.