Student Q&A Pilot FAQs

Hilary Dudek -

In a few weeks, Handshake will kick off a limited pilot of a new Q&A (Question & Answer) pilot, that will help students learn from other students and alumni, and ultimately employers and career center staff. 


What is Q&A?

In Q&A (Question & Answer), students can ask career-related questions, and get answers from other students or alumni from any school. Our goal for this small-scale pilot is to understand how Q&A can provide the most value to students, specifically:

  • What questions do students have?
  • What kind of answers resonate most with students?
  • Who do students want to hear from?


Why Q&A?

As with Reviews, Q&A is part of our work to democratize information. We want to make it easier for students to learn from other students and alumni.

We keep hearing from students that they have questions at every stage of the job search process, but it is difficult to get helpful, contextually-relevant answers. After exploring different approaches and conducting significant user research, we found Q&A to be the most effective format to deliver a personalized, engaging experience at scale.

Through Q&A, we’re able to leverage the power of the Handshake network, and share the collective knowledge, advice and experiences that our community of students and alumni have to offer.


Did you consult any schools on Q&A?

We discussed and got feedback on the Q&A pilot and long term plans from directors at 22 schools, including American, Arizona, ASU, Boulder, Illinois, Johns Hopkins, Loyola Marymount, Miami, MSU, Northwestern, Penn, Princeton, Rochester, Rutgers, Spelman, Stanford, Tulane, USF, UVA, Villanova, and Wellesley. Their questions and advice have helped shape this pilot and our content sourcing and moderation process.


How will this pilot work?

We’ve already manually sourced many questions and answers directly from students and alumni at Handshake schools through direct 1:1 outreach. We have then reviewed those questions and answers against our Content Guidelines to ensure they are appropriate for publication. This spring, we are planning to run a small pilot to surface some of those questions and answers back to students to understand whether Q&A resonates with students, through two means:


  • Email: we’ll share Q&A digests with students directly via email, tracking email engagement metrics.
  • Dashboard Prompts: students will see prompts on their dashboard (For You) page, clicking into which will display Q&A content.  


Since this is a pilot, these emails and dashboard prompts will be shown to a small subset of your students at first, before we expand the coverage after validating it is working.

Ultimately, the Q&A process will become more automated, and we will open up the ability for career centers and employers to both ask and answer questions. But for the pilot, we are manually sourcing and reviewing. In the meantime, we also welcome direct feedback and ideas on great questions and relevant people in your network who could answer those questions.


What is the timeline for the pilot?

We plan to start the pilot on Feb 26.


How do you source the questions for this pilot?

We’ve reached out directly to students to understand what questions they have in their job search process. Broadly, we’ve found that questions usually fall into one of three main categories:



  • Career Exploration


      • Questions about career paths, employers, day-in-the-life, different roles and functions
      • Ex: What’s it like to be a journalist?
      • Ex: What’s the difference between brand marketing and product marketing?
      • Ex: What are the pros and cons of doing the Teach for America program?


  • Tactical Questions


    • Questions about tactical advice in the job search process
    • Ex: How do I prepare for my first accounting interview tomorrow?
    • Ex: How do I prepare my resume to get noticed by ad agencies?
    • Ex: How much should a fresh-grad software engineer expect to make in New York?
  • Career Stories
    • More humanizing or playful questions
    • Ex: What are the best perks that come with working in tech?
    • Ex: Anyone else find this whole internship process incredibly stressful? Any advice?


How do you source the answers for this pilot?

We’ve directly reached out to students and alumni who have public profiles on Handshake and have relevant backgrounds and invited them to answer these questions. So far we’ve found that both students and alumni have been very willing and eager to answer and share their advice with fellow students.  We’ve also been excited to see that alumni from all types, regions and industries are willing to share their feedback.



How do you ensure that Q&A content is appropriate?

We’ve done extensive work around content moderation and student privacy, in consultation with employment and privacy counsel. Our main principles for publishing content are as follows:


  • Follows Content Guidelines and Privacy Policies
  • Content would live across all schools on the Handshake network, alumni and students
  • Student control of identity: Fully Public or Semi-Anonymous (all answers would show school, year & major)
  • Handshake would moderate content


Will answers come just from students and alumni at my school?

Q&A will come from students and alumni from any school across the Handshake network. Harnessing the power of the network will provide a significantly more valuable experience, for students to be able to get insight from a far broader set of “answerers.” For example, if you are a student at a technical school in Arizona, but are interested in working in design in New York, you will likely benefit from answers shared by design students or alumni from a school with that speciality. Even students at schools with broad alumni bases will benefit, because no school has a broad enough distribution by geography and industry to help the long-tail of your students who are not otherwise engaging with Career Centers.

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