Emma Stoltzfus — Staff Writer
Outside Amy Westra’s office sits a cheerful yellow chair in the shape of a hand. The yellow hand is a calling card from Handshake, a website Dordt uses to help connect its students with employers, one of many tools the Career Development Center (CDC) has in its belt.
Westra is the Associate Director of Career Development and one of Dordt’s two employees in the CDC. She and Missy Mulder, the Career Development Coordinator, work to connect Dordt students with jobs and other opportunities.
The two put on several events throughout the school year. Etiquette dinners, job fairs, graduate school panels, on-campus interviews, and one-on-one discussions fill the calendar. They use the Handshake platform to interact with students and connect them to jobs and internships sent to the CDC by prospective employers.
Every Dordt student is given a Handshake account using their Dordt information; whether or not students use it is another matter. The account activation rate is currently at 58%, a huge jump from the old program, according to Westra. Two years ago, before they started using Handshake, around 16% used the old system.
Dordt’s Handshake has around 4,800 different job postings. That’s enough for just over three jobs for every student at Dordt. Also listed are approximately 1,300 internships and fellowships. The platform has an app which allows students to make appointments with the CDC.
Handshake itself is comparable to other job sites like LinkedIn, but it’s geared specifically toward connecting students and recent graduates. The program’s website boasts that 14 million students and over 700 schools use the service.
Another project that CDC works through is called Prospectus, a joint program with the education department that sends out a promotional list of senior education majors to various schools around the country.
This is helpful for education majors like Daniel Seaman, who found a job teaching in California through Prospectus. He advises students looking for work or internships to network and uphold a trust that God can use you wherever you end up.
“The Dordt family and the Dordt grads are very good at watching out for the younger generation,” Seaman said.
Inside Westra’s office are several neatly stacked posters for summer job openings at Blue Bunny, an ice cream parlor in Le Mars. She intends to put them up around the campus center later in the day.
“There’s nothing that gets me more excited than hearing how student’s dreams, hopes and goals get fulfilled,” Westra says.
But the two-woman staff of Dordt’s career center doesn’t often hear back from students after graduation. Did they get the job? Is it going well? They often never learn the outcome after a student leaves Dordt.
Regardless, Westra enjoys her work in helping Dordt students and thinking about the kingdom impacts they’ll make down the road.
“That’s what gets me jazzed every day,” she said. “I can’t imagine a better fit than where I’m at right now.”