By Danielle Thompson
In August 2018, SAIS Career Services replaced SAISWorks, students’ previous online career services platform, with the Handshake system. Although the new service offers numerous jobs, schedule of events and seminars, students’ ability to access them depends on how much information they put into the system. To ensure that students engage with the online resource, Career Services grants or denies access and mandates that students update their profile to access opportunities or even schedule an appointment.
The new system has everything from event listings to resume drops. Simply clicking on the RSVP button ensures that you have a spot reserved, provided that you have signed into the system already. The overlooked aspect of this new system is that students must prove they attended the event by signing in at a table near the event’s entrance, or else they are blocked from their Handshake account without warning.
This is not a “three strikes and you’re out” or “mistakes can happen” type of system. If you don’t sign in at the entrance to an event that you RSVP’d for, your account will be blocked.
I RSVP’d for an event, attended but neglected to sign in at the appropriate kiosk. I was late to the event and also had to leave early for a class. As a late arrival, I wasn’t prompted to sign in and my consequently,so my account was blocked. I emailed Career Services explaining the situation, but was told the only way to re-activate my account was to submit an apology email to the speaker.
This policy of first blocking students access to their online career service platform and then demanding an apology email is insulting. SAIS is a graduate school. The students here are adults and do not need the added stress of having their accounts blocked should they, for any reason, fail to attend Career Services events. The policy ensures that students won’t RSVP, and will prefer to pencil the event into their calendar and show up. Handshake RSVPs are now not worth the risk. Ultimately, this new policy discourages students from taking advantage of the great opportunities that Career Services has to offer.