iEngage Seeks to Streamline Job Search Process for Students

Emily Lin-Jones

Students who are still on the hunt for summer internships and on- or off-campus jobs now have a new option available to widen their search. Conceived as a more functional replacement for the Whitman website’s on-campus jobs listing and the now-defunct jobs and internships mailing list, iEngage is designed to connect users with job opportunities that better fit their unique needs.

“We’ve been trying to find ways to better match what students are interested in, in terms of their professional goals and trajectories, with what’s out there,” said Assistant Dean for Student Engagement Noah Leavitt, adding that he hopes iEngage’s more organized interface will serve students looking for jobs better than the previous format of a mailing list.

Inspired in part by similar services being offered by the student engagement and career service program at Wake Forest University, the Student Engagement Center purchased the software from a company called Symplicity near the end of the 2012 spring semester. With the help of the SEC’s Technology and Marketing Fellow Kyle Scott, Whitman’s customizations to the program were finalized near the end of the 2012 fall semester. iEngage, along with the disbanding of the former jobs listserv, was revealed to the student body near the start of the 2013 spring semester.

Students who log into iEngage are asked to create a profile that includes information such as their major, location and interests. The program then accepts job postings from employers both local and abroad and matches students up with the opportunities that most closely fit their needs and preferences.

“I think the new program that we have is a lot more user-friendly,” said Scott.

According to Leavitt, the jobs listserv had over 900 subscribers. Scott estimates approximately half of those have migrated to iEngage so far, with the number continuing to grow.

“I’m really excited about that because I worked really hard last semester to make it a good system,” said Scott. He acknowledged that there is a significant number of users that need to be transferred to the new program for it to be most effective, and that the process will take time.

“We’re trying to make the transition very smooth, and in order to do that we’ve had a lot of beta testing. It’s a slow process but it’s been very smooth so far,” he said, adding that the three demographics that the SEC is aiming to reach are students, on-campus employers and off-campus employers.

Though the SEC is working to increase employers’ use of the program, listings for off-campus jobs are still somewhat scarce compared to on-campus job vacancies.

“I think that though it is a good start to providing a consolidated platform for jobs and internships, it does not provide a lot of options for off-campus jobs. It seems to be limiting in that sense,” said senior Abiy Aberra in an email, a previous subscriber of the jobs and internships mailing list. He noted, however, that the organization of iEngage is a big improvement over the previous system.

“As compared with the listserv … I think it is a much better option because you can go to one place to find out about all the jobs that are available, as opposed to having individual emails sent out to you for every job opening,” he said.

The program has not been widely publicized yet outside of emails to the jobs listserv before it was disbanded, but Scott and others at the SEC are working to train people on how to use the program effectively.

“We’ve been having a lot of info sessions and training sessions for people on campus,” Scott said. “So far we’ve been getting really good reviews from them. We’ve had a lot of students using the system, which is really the best thing you can say for any software transition.”

Leavitt said that he hopes that in addition to helping students, the new software will provide the data the college needs to provide students with opportunities and programs more suited to their needs.

“iEngage is going to be a way for us to make better informed decisions about what we should be developing to meet students’ professional development interests,” he said. “We really didn’t have access to that information [before] … It gives us a much richer appreciation for the kinds of things that are on students’ minds.”