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Considering implementing a new careers platform? Read these lessons from UK universities

Considering implementing a new careers platform? Read these lessons from UK universities

Renowned tech investor and evangelist Guy Kawasaki once said, “Ideas are easy, implementation is hard.”

Here at Handshake, we often hear similar assumptions when we first speak to universities about bringing new tech on board. But it doesn’t have to be that way. Implementation really can be quick, effective and painless and your institution can be using Handshake – to connect with employers and students, and help your careers services teams shine – in as little as 6-8 weeks.

We’ve worked with hundreds of universities around the world and learned a lot of lessons along the way. And by implementing our early careers network platform together as a true partnership between provider and customer, the sky really is the limit.

Here’s what UK universities have to say about their experiences:

Process and resources

A key part of the implementation partnership is transparency and shared goals, as Bryan Byers, Employability Manager at Ulster University, explains: “I definitely reflect on the experience of implementing Handshake as a positive one. It was very well organised in terms of the process of what needs to happen at what time and who is responsible for what. But more than that, it’s about how Handshake listens to you and has empathy with what you’re trying to do.”

Jason Steers, Communications and Engagement Project Officer at University of Liverpool agrees that being part of one big team working towards implementation together was useful, “We had regular meetings and check-ins with the Handshake team and as a result, it never felt like we were working on this alone.”

Racing against time? Don’t sweat it

Even if your institution is very limited on the amount of time they have available to bring a new platform on board, you might be surprised to find out just how fast Handshake can be up and running.

Rob Ingram, Head of Employability at Falmouth University, says, “We had a very tight timeline. I think we may hold the Handshake record for the fastest implementation! We did it in 6 weeks from start to finish and it was ready to go a couple of weeks before the start of the academic year.”

Not just a ‘one and done’

But what happens after the initial implementation period? If you’re worried that the speed involved means a prescriptive, limited setup at the end, don’t be. “The fact that we genuinely did implement it in 8 weeks is incredible, especially considering all the barriers that we faced, external to the university and Handshake. I think that’s what surprises people most,” says Jenny Blakely, Director at University of Cambridge. “The other thing that is really important is that we’ve implemented it, and it’s working, but it’s possible to continually make tweaks and change how we work with it.”

A roadmap for the future

Who knows? Implementing Handshake might even end up having a positive effect on how you approach other similar projects in future.

Tom Banham, Director of Employability & Careers, University of York, went as far as to say, “Our IT department said, the integration is now the roadmap of what they expect any partner to work towards in terms of the seamless nature of the integration with our archaic system. Handshake developed lots of credibility, not just with my area, but with stakeholders across the university for the integration process.”

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