A Career Choice is a Life Choice Logo

We recently sat down with Katie Williams who works at Handshake, one of the fastest-growing education technology companies in the country. Learn more about how she found her way to this exciting job. 

DB: Thanks so much for speaking with me today! What is your current position?
KW: I am currently the Head of University Success at Handshake.

Katie Williams, Head of University Success at Handshake.

DB: Can you tell me about your background and how you ended up at Handshake? 
KW: I graduated from Central Michigan University and majored in Entrepreneurship because I didn’t actually know what I wanted to do! I hoped that my major would allow me to touch many subject areas, which it ultimately did (I am still very grateful for that)! I worked at a large, 15k employee organization right out of college and quickly felt like a cog in a wheel. I loved my role and the people I was starting to get to know in a professional capacity, but I couldn’t fully wrap my head around what I was directly impacting every day. One of my college friend’s older brothers started a company called Handshake that was trying to democratize access to opportunity through technology. She encouraged me to chat with him and hear more about how I could be a part of that. I was lucky to have stumbled into a situation where I knew the right people. I actively recognize that not everyone gets that lucky, which is in part what keeps me at Handshake. I want to help people remove luck from the job search equation.

DB: We love it when the timing seems to work out perfectly! What do you value most about your current role?
KW: I value that I get to wake up every day and work towards closing the opportunity gap. Talent is everywhere, but opportunity isn’t. I get to work with universities around the country to ensure students everywhere can access their dream careers. Additionally, working in the tech industry is very interesting! I never fully grasped that I could “work in tech” but not have a “technical” career. What I can bring to the job from an emotional intelligence perspective is just as valuable as what an engineer with highly technical training brings. The best part about my job is that I get to leverage what I’m most passionate about – building, curating, and maintaining relationships with people – to ultimately ensure student success in the job search process. 

DB: What do you feel has been the biggest learning from your career so far? 
KW: That learning never ends and your humility says a lot about you. Humility is the common denominator in most people I’ve respected in my career thus far. It is an endless desire to learn, grow, and repeat, which are Handshake’s core values. 

DB: If you’re looking to hire someone on your team, what is your favorite question to ask them?
KW: I always ask the following questions: what are some ways you prioritize how to spend the first 10 minutes of your day and what is your superpower. The approach to these questions says a lot about how they source through a variety of data they have at their disposal and empowers them to exemplify how they might be a thoughtful advocate for themselves or others.

Deanna Backos is a partner at the midnight oil group, a Detroit marketing agency offering full-service communications for clients. We live and breathe our clients’ brands, always developing new ideas, strategies and creative solutions to build awareness, engage with their target markets, and develop true brand advocates.