It starts with (a) Handshake

Christine Cruzvergara
Christine Cruzvergara (’05), vice president of higher education and student success at Handshake.

SUMMARY: Christine Cruzvergara ('05) is vice president of higher education and student success at Handshake, a college-to-career network.

By Jacob Neff, alumni relations communications coordinator

Christine Cruzvergara (’05), an executive at Handshake, a college-to-career network, has worked with thousands of graduates throughout her career, but JMU graduates have always stood out. For Cruzvergara, there is no mistaking a Duke. There is a “very special spirit about every JMU graduate” she said. There is a certain level of empathy.”

Cruzvergara appreciates her experiences as a psychology major for allowing her to sharpen her professional skills. Psychology professor Bill Evans, whose leadership still inspires her, taught Cruzvergara the concept of servant leadership. “His humility and his lessons about what it means to show leadership, particularly in difficult moments, has carried me through some of the most challenging situations,” she said.

Since graduation, she has applied these skills to a career in higher education. Cruzvergara spent over a decade in the industry before landing at Handshake as vice president of higher education and student success.

It seems right that a JMU alumna would be involved in the student success efforts at Handshake. After all, Career and Academic Planning at JMU uses Handshake to provide students with a one-stop shop for employment resources. Additionally, students are able to request an appointment with CAP through Handshake, streamlining the process and allowing easier access to advisers. A student from any academic department can benefit from this online employment community. Recent JMU graduates may continue to apply to on-campus interview positions and register for career fairs, and all alumni may use and search for jobs on Handshake.

Large group photo of Handshake team members wearing red T-shirts
The entire Handshake team.

Handshake is not the first service of its kind. LinkedIn, Glassdoor and Indeed offer similar opportunities. A key difference is that employers reach more schools (and more applicants) than ever before through Handshake. As employers seek out applicants, many of them return to the same schools and job pools they have always used. Handshake allows these companies to recruit at new schools and reach a community of 17 million students. Additionally, as employers across the country strive for diverse workplaces, Cruzvergara and her team have been an ally, both to potential employees and the companies that can hire them.

Transitioning into the technology industry is no easy task, though for Cruzvergara the “ability to have an impact on millions of students across thousands of universities” was well worth the challenge. Recruited as part of a growing team, she arrived at Handshake after working tirelessly for the students of Wellesley College and George Mason University. In her current role, Cruzvergara has had the opportunity to serve students on a much larger scale.

In today’s job market, “professionals will change jobs nearly 12-15 times,” Cruzvergara said. “Students will have to continually reinvent themselves.” Soon-to-be college graduates will enter this market shortly, and when they do, access to a community of employers could make a difference.

Serving as a first step in crafting your career, Handshake has partnered with over 400,000 companies. Some of these companies are seeking students to hire immediately in their campus communities.

Reflecting on her time at JMU, Cruzvergara recited an old saying: “No one cares how much you know, until they know how much you care.” This saying summarized her Madison Experience. During her time at JMU, Cruzvergara learned very quickly that “leadership is an action, not a title.”

# # #


Madison banner 2018

Back to Top

Published: Wednesday, November 20, 2019

Last Updated: Wednesday, November 1, 2023

Related Articles