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Symplifying Career Services for Students

InCommon Provides a Smart Career Choice

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Solution Summary

Pennsylvania State University used Shibboleth to integrate the job posting and interviewing provider Symplicity with their existing single-sign on abilities.  The streamlining created a better user experience for students and allows the Career Services staff to direct their focus back to what is most important.


Products & Services

Symplicity provides software applications to manage many facets of college recruiting, from career fairs to on-campus interviewing. The company works with 600 institutions providing an end- to-end career service management suite.

Pennsylvania State University has thousands of students using career services at any given time. For Penn State’s 24 locations across the state, the sheer size and complexity of offering quality, unified services can be daunting.

The Problem

Rather than develop its own system for on-line job posting and on-campus interviewing, Penn State conducted an extensive review of various vendors. The university chose Symplicity and used the company’s software for a year without federated single sign-on.

During that year, every student received a user name and password – separate from their existing Penn State ID and password – to access the career services system.

“Our office was constantly receiving phone calls from students who couldn’t log in to Symplicity,” said Larry Kolbe, a programmer/analyst with Penn State’s career services office. “We wanted to eliminate the assignment of yet another user name and password to students.”

The Solution

Penn State was already an InCommon participant, using federated identity management for other campus applications. “We were asked to investigate and implement a way to integrate access to Symplicity’s system with Penn State’s log-in,” Kolbe said. “Because Symplicity did not, at that time, work with Shibboleth®, we worked closely with their developers to make this happen.”

"Penn State approached us about a federated single sign-on system, so we Shib-enabled our applications,” said Symplicity’s Brent Franks. “Since then, we have started working with the University of Maryland- Baltimore County toward using InCommon and have just opened talks with NYU.”

Franks said this is part of a process he has seen with other institutions. “A typical scenario is that a school will deploy Symplicity software and, after it has been up and running, begin discussion of a federated single sign-on system.”

The Result

“InCommon and Shibboleth provide a great SSO solution and make it much easier for students to use our software while allowing career services staff to concentrate on what is most important...”

Brent Franks, Symplicity

For Penn State, the result has been a streamlined authentication and authorization system. “For the year that we used Symplicity prior to implementing this solution, we were constantly fielding phone calls from students,” Kolbe said. “The office no longer receives these types of calls, which has resulted in significant savings in staff time.”

As a service provider, Franks said it all comes down to customer satisfaction.

“Ultimately it comes down to making our customers happier, which in turn helps create sales opportunities,” he said. “InCommon and Shibboleth provide a great SSO solution and make it much easier for students to use our software while allowing career services staff to concentrate on what is most important; helping students rather than troubleshooting technology issues.”