NECC Expands Career Search Opportunities for Students and Alumni

 In Member News

Haverhill, MA – In July, Northern Essex Community College (Haverhill and Lawrence, MA) became the first community college in Massachusetts to adopt Handshake, a career network that is comprised of 500,000 employers, including all of the Fortune 500 companies.

Northern Essex students and alumni now have access to this expanding network of career opportunities, according to Ashley Moore, director of career services, who shared that four months after Handshake was launched, 882 employers had already connected with Northern Essex and there are 1,362 active job and internship postings available.

“Handshake is the top platform for recruiting at four-year colleges and universities,” said Moore. “They are expanding into the community college market and we are very excited about the benefits they can give our students and alumni as well as our local employers.”

Students and alumni are invited to activate or create a free profile, which will allow them to receive personalized recommendations for both jobs and internships, based on their major, interests and activity within the system. Employers will also be able to recruit students directly through the system. Since August, 618 NECC students and 30 alumni have activated their Handshake accounts and they are hoping to grow that to 2,000 by the end of the academic year.

When posting career opportunities, employers are asked to connect with the colleges they are targeting for approval to post jobs and events. “We are encouraging employers, especially those who are local to us to select NECC,” says Moore.

Other benefits of Handshake include the ability to schedule virtual career fairs. As part of STEM Week, Northern Essex hosted a STEM Career Fair and four companies participated, including Pfizer. Also scheduled is a Health Science Virtual Career Fair on November 10, 11 am to 1 pm.

While Northern Essex was the first Massachusetts community college to adopt Handshake, Cape Cod, Massasoit and Middlesex community colleges have since joined and others will soon be on board.

Northern Essex recently became the fiscal sponsor of a $44,693 grant from the Boston Foundation and SkillWorks, to lead the effort to implement Handshake at all Massachusetts community colleges.

“Up until now each community college has used a different career services management system or none at all,” said Moore, who is leading the grant project. “Once we are on the same system, we will be able to work more efficiently and collaboratively as a system, particularly with sharing events and career-related opportunities.”

Handshake was founded in 2013 by three students at Michigan State University, who discovered inequities in career opportunities for students and believed that software had the potential to bridge opportunity gaps for students across the country.

“This is all about equity,” said Moore. “Our community college students, many of whom are of color, low income, or nonnative English speakers, now have access to the same career opportunities that are presented to students at 4-year colleges and universities.”

To learn more about NECC Career Services or Handshake, contact Moore at

Northern Essex Community College has campuses in both Haverhill and Lawrence. It offers approximately 60 associate degree and certificate programs as well as hundreds of noncredit courses designed for personal enrichment and career growth.  Each year, 6,000 students are enrolled in credit associate degree and certificate programs on the Haverhill and Lawrence campuses; and another 2,000 take noncredit workforce development and community education classes on campus, and at businesses and community sites across the Merrimack Valley.  For more information, visit the website at or call 978-556-3700.



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