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Career Planning For Engineering Students

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2003 Annual Conference


Nashville, Tennessee

Publication Date

June 22, 2003

Start Date

June 22, 2003

End Date

June 25, 2003



Conference Session

ASEE Multimedia Session

Page Count


Page Numbers

8.285.1 - 8.285.4



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Paper Authors

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Kimberly Coleman

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NOTE: The first page of text has been automatically extracted and included below in lieu of an abstract

Session 2793

Preparing Our Best and Brightest

Kimberly Coleman University of Kentucky, College of Engineering Career Services

In the midst of the worst economy in decades, it’s no surprise that college graduates of the new millennium are emerging from their campuses, feeling a sense of unfairness unknown to their generation. These aspiring young professionals are products of the economic glory days of the 1990s. They believed that if they went to college and applied themselves, that they’d get a good job that would allow them to live out their dreams. There was no reason for them to believe otherwise. Jobs were plentiful, as the United States enjoyed the lowest unemployment rate in years. Students were being recruited to jump on the dot com bandwagon, oftentimes before they received their diplomas. $5 -10 thousand dollar sign-on bonuses were commonplace. The possibilities seemed limitless in their eyes.

The graduating classes of 2001 – 2003 have felt the strongest sting. They entered college with the confidence that they would be able to land their ideal job after graduation. As long as such things had been on their radar screens, economic times were good. During the recession of the late 1980s, these students were in elementary school. Well over a decade ago, Generation Xers knew as seniors in high school that they had to go to college to get ahead, and even with a bachelors degree proudly displayed on their bedroom wall, they recognized that there was still no guarantee that wouldn’t be wearing a paper hat and handing out French fries at the drive-thru. They’d seen their parents become victims of corporate downsizing in the 1980s and were generally more nervous about landing a full time job after college.

Since the economic downturn began in early 2001, college career services counselors and engineering educators have shifted their focuses accordingly. Fewer students are coming to advising appointments with questions relating to evaluating job offers and more are asking what they can do to market themselves more effectively in a tight job market. Because of this shift, it is incumbent upon these educators and counselors to cultivate the relationship between their institution and employers for the purposes of increasing the students’ awareness of all available job opportunities. Indeed, post-secondary institutions should be increasing their efforts to offer opportunities for students to prepare themselves for a job search in a competitive market.

After several years in hiatus, the University of Kentucky College of Engineering has recently re-introduced a course intended for students who are entering their last year of study. This 400 level course helps to prepare students for graduation, the search for full time employment, and their first year on the job. The course was very popular in the late 1980s and early 1990s, and remained in the University schedule books throughout the decade. However, the economic boom of subsequent years led to declining enrollment. Given the economic downturn in

“Proceedings of the 2003 American Society for Engineering Education Annual Conference & Exposition Copyright © 2003, American Society for Engineering Education”

Coleman, K. (2003, June), Career Planning For Engineering Students Paper presented at 2003 Annual Conference, Nashville, Tennessee. 10.18260/1-2--12234

ASEE holds the copyright on this document. It may be read by the public free of charge. Authors may archive their work on personal websites or in institutional repositories with the following citation: © 2003 American Society for Engineering Education. Other scholars may excerpt or quote from these materials with the same citation. When excerpting or quoting from Conference Proceedings, authors should, in addition to noting the ASEE copyright, list all the original authors and their institutions and name the host city of the conference. - Last updated April 1, 2015