Handshake now includes over 900 universities.

Handshake, which is an online career services platform, now has a feature that allows JMU students to look for internships and jobs according to their major.

Laura Fornash, who serves as sr. vice president for McGuireWoods Consulting, which helped form the Growth4Va campaign, said that Growth4VA, a higher education campaign, has supported this new feature on Handshake and partnered with JMU to put a press conference together in Richmond to announce the new  feature Jan. 28. It’s been available to students and prospective students since early December. 

Andy Perrine, associate vice president for communications and marketing at JMU, said JMU and Handshake decided to put live job and internship opportunities on the academic overview pages to motivate students to start thinking about career opportunities associated with their majors sooner. 

Perrine said that President Jonathan Alger had an op-ed in the Richmond Times-Dispatch in late January where he described a national trend of 80% of all college students saying that the main reason they’re going to college is to improve their career prospects, but only about 20% of college students visit their school’s office of career planning while they’re still a student.

In the op-ed, Alger said there’s a disconnect between students wanting to go to school for better career opportunities and actually seeking out places on campus where they can find help for post-graduation life.

“The analysis of that disconnect is that you need to get career planning resources to students where they already live rather than encouraging them to go to a career planning office,” Perrine said.

He said that for this reason and the fact that prospective students tend to look at academic major overview pages first when choosing a college, JMU and Handshake decided to implement this new feature.

Christine Cruzvergara, vice president of higher education of student success for Handshake, said that the service now has s over 900 universities and colleges, over 425,000 employers and 17 million students and alumni.

This makes the new feature another opportunity to connect with other students not only at JMU, but at other colleges as well.

“It really is an institutional commitment to student success and making sure that students actually have access to really great opportunities right from the start,” Cruzvergara said.

JMU created different RSS feeds in partnership with Handshake and mapped them to all of the different undergraduate academic majors across the entire institution, meaning that these feeds are embedded in the academic websites for every major, Cruzvergara said.

Laura Fornash, who serves as senior vice president for McGuireWoods Consulting, said that Growth4VA has supported this new addition to the website.

“Many schools use Handshake, and this is a creative way to show prospective students what they can do with their majors,” Fornash said.

Contact Isabela Gladston at gladstia@dukes.jmu.edu. For more coverage of JMU and Harrisonburg news, follow the news desk on Twitter @BreezeNewsJMU.