As the end of her junior year at the University of Arkansas at Little Rock drew near, Keely Reeves was concerned about a lack of professional experience that she felt would hurt her chances to get a job after graduation.
“I will graduate in May 2020,” said Reeves, a Benton native double majoring in mass communication and professional and technical writing. “I only had one internship under my belt before last summer, and I was panicking, thinking that I might graduate without having any internships related to my majors.”
Last spring, she began an intense search for internships that involved video editing, photography, social media, writing, and editing.
“I went on Indeed.com and applied for everything under the sun in Arkansas,” Reeves said. “Then I tried the university’s new job-search platform, Handshake, since it specializes in internships. I applied for everything under the sun, and I found a great internship with P. Allen Smith Co. in Little Rock.”
UA Little Rock launched Handshake, a career network tailored to college students, in December 2018 to help students connect with future employers. The digital platform system is easy to use and allows users to customize every step of their career development journey.
“We wanted to provide our students with a professional online job search platform,” said Lisa Henderson-Davis, director of Distributed Learning and Career Center. “It is the most popular and diverse platform, and that is why we picked it. It definitely helps us enhance our services to our students. The creators of Handshake went to Michigan State, and they realized they didn’t have the same opportunities as people coming from Silicon Valley or the East coast, so they built a platform to democratize job searching.”
Reeves is the first UA Little Rock student to officially find an internship through Handshake. As a production intern, she spent her summer producing videos and content to increase traffic to P. Allen Smith Co.’s social media pages.
“Keely was a pleasure to work with,” said Patrick Green, director and executive producer of P. Allen Smith Co. “She came in each day ready to learn and to take on any task assigned to her. Our company has expanded our multimedia department into the realm of YouTube. Keely learned how micro content is created and used on Instagram and Facebook to help promote YouTube videos.”
Green began using Handshake in 2018 as a way to recruit more college students.
“Handshake is a great tool to streamline the announcement of internships and job openings to current and graduating college students across multiple schools at one time,” Green said.
The valuable video editing, social media, and marketing skills that Reeves learned have already come in handy.
“I’m interning at Wildwood Park for the Arts this fall, and I’m doing social media, videography, and photography,” Reeves said. “Working at P. Allen Smith Co. helped me come to Wildwood and think about what kind of videos I can do to promote them on Instagram and Facebook.”
At UA Little Rock, 2,645 students have activated their Handshake accounts and can search through jobs posted by the nearly 3,500 employers from across the country that are recruiting UA Little Rock students.
“Handshake is such a great resource to get an internship, but it also has full- and part-time jobs for students,” Henderson-Davis said. “All students need to do is fill out a profile to search for jobs, and they can make their profile public so employers can find them on Handshake.”
Gaining professional experience during college is becoming important as more employers expect new graduates to have work experience.
“We want our students to have more experiential learning opportunities in college,” Henderson-Davis said. “Students need real-world work experience to complement their education by the time they graduate.”
Reeves remains grateful to Handshake for leading her to an internship that will prepare her for her future career.
“I thought it was cool to get the internship through Handshake,” she said. “I wasn’t having a lot of luck on Indeed.com for things that would actually work for me. I applied for with P. Allen Smith Company, and they were willing to work with my schedule, and it turned out great.”