BRAC, LSU, Southern Announce Collaboration to Retain Graduates

Initiative seeks to connect university talent to the region’s business community through internships    

Baton Rouge, La. (September 24, 2020)– The Baton Rouge Area Chamber (BRAC), LSU and Southern University today announced a collaboration to leverage Handshake – an early talent recruitment platform connecting employers, talent and colleges – to retain graduates in the region by connecting students to career opportunities through professional internships. 

“This is a historic joint commitment of our region’s traditional four-year institutions to be intentional about connecting students to local internship and job opportunities,” said Adam Knapp, president and CEO of BRAC. “Now more than ever, talent drives economic development, and our college students are one of our greatest assets.”

This initiative is of particular significance for small to mid-sized employers, which make up 88 percent of the Baton Rouge market. Baton Rouge college students are most frequently connected with experiential learning opportunities at large businesses, those with formalized human resources departments and budgets, according to a study conducted by SSA Consultants for BRAC on the region’s internship ecosystem. Smaller employers often have less internal resources to invest in a traditional strategy for recruiting university talent. Handshake will allow those companies to recruit on a level playing field and better engage with university career centers, while also increasing awareness among students of the diversity of career paths available to them in the Baton Rouge area. 

“This new collaboration will make it easier than ever for businesses to hire college students and graduates into local jobs, accessible through one single login. Every business in the region should create a free Handshake account and explore how easy it is to recruit interns and graduates. For small and medium sized business, this is the kind of technology disruption that’s going to make their student recruiting and hiring much, much easier,” Knapp said.

Handshake allows employers of all sizes to create a free profile, through which they can recruit talent from LSU, Southern and any of the other 900+ universities on the platform. Employers are able to post jobs, prioritize and filter candidates, schedule interviews and register for recruiting events from one singular login.

“As one of Louisiana’s strongest academic and economic assets, LSU is proud to provide our talented students with a bridge to successful careers, which is a vital part of sustaining a healthy and thriving economy in our state. We are committed to collaborating with our colleagues in higher education and business on this important initiative,” said LSU Interim President Tom Galligan.

LSU and Southern both invested in the Handshake platform in 2018. Roughly half of the student population at both institutions have active profiles, with upperclassmen who are seeking opportunities making up the largest percentages. There are 489 active employer profiles in the region.

“Southern University, in its 140th year, continues to prepare students for a global workforce… and we know that this starts at home in the Capital Region,” said Ray L. Belton, president-chancellor of Southern University. “With this partnership, our students have enhanced access to valuable training and ultimate employment with companies that positively contribute to the economic health of our city and state.”

The collaboration holds both universities and BRAC accountable for expanding the number of active student and employer profiles in the system, implementing a data tracking strategy to measure progress, advocating for paid internships as both a critical component of curriculum and of talent pipeline management strategies and collaborating to increase awareness of the region as a vibrant community in which to consider launching a career.

“As a small, local business we’ve had great success connecting with talent through the Handshake platform. It makes the process of participating in LSU’s Construction Interviewing Day a breeze. We have connected with several high-quality candidates at LSU that have made excellent hires for our company,” said Chad Scallan, vice president of Diamond Electrical Company.

BRAC will host workshops with the universities’ career service centers to help employers set up Handshake profiles, learn how to most effectively engage with the platform and connect with additional resources available through the career service centers. The first workshop, Handshake 101, will be on October 14.

“Access is the most direct path to opportunity, and we’re excited to partner with BRAC to help students connect with local businesses,” said Christine Cruzvergara, vice president of higher education and student success at Handshake. “This initiative demonstrates the strength of Handshake’s platform to help more students easily discover opportunities and help employers recruit young talent in an efficient and cost-effective way.”

Regional businesses are encouraged to take the following steps within the next six months to support and participate in this effort:

  • Activate an employer account on Handshake 
  • Attend a BRAC workshop
  • Create a paid internship program and recruit through Handshake
  • Recruit candidates for entry-level positions through Handshake

More information about Handshake, the partnership and upcoming workshops is available at

BRAC is pursuing similar agreements with the region’s other postsecondary institutions – Baton Rouge Community College, FranU and River Parishes Community College – to create a holistic collaborative aimed at tracking local internships and experiential learning opportunities and to strengthen relationships between the region’s employers, education institutions and students.

About the Baton Rouge Area Chamber  

The Baton Rouge Area Chamber (BRAC) leads economic development in the nine-parish Baton Rouge Area, working to grow jobs and wealth and to improve the business climate and competitiveness in the region. Today, BRAC investors include more than 1,400 small businesses, mid-sized firms, large industry and entrepreneurial startups, as well as individuals and organizations that support business and economic development. In this capacity, BRAC serves as the voice of the business community, providing knowledge, access, services and advocacy. More information is available at    


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