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Empowering Graduates To Manage Professional Careers For Greater Satisfaction And Contribution

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1999 Annual Conference


Charlotte, North Carolina

Publication Date

June 20, 1999

Start Date

June 20, 1999

End Date

June 23, 1999



Page Count


Page Numbers

4.228.1 - 4.228.14

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Paper Authors

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Ronald E. Terry

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Kurt Sandholtz

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

Session 2630

Empowering Graduates to Manage Professional Careers for Greater Satisfaction and Contribution

Ronald E. Terry, Kurt Sandholtz Brigham Young University/Novations Group, Inc.


Recent reports aimed at improving engineering education are consistent in recommending new attributes for future graduates.1,2 These attributes are in addition to the strong technical capabilities for which engineers have been known and are frequently referred to as the ‘soft’ skills. They include: 1. An ability to function on multi-disciplinary teams. 2. An understanding of professional and ethical responsibilities. 3. An understanding of how engineering solutions impact society. 4. An understanding of contemporary issues. 5. An understanding of the need for lifelong learning. 6. An ability to provide effective and skillful leadership.

A variety of topics fit under the broad umbrella of these attributes. One key topic that has proven to be extremely useful to engineers is an understanding of how their careers will develop in today's organizations. With flatter organizational structures, opportunities for upward advancement have decreased and more emphasis has been placed on efficiency and customer-satisfaction. These changes in organizations have modified career development for the engineers that staff them. The traditional ‘how to succeed in business’ strategies no longer work. This can lead to frustration and confusion for today’s engineering graduates. Yet organizations' need for leadership -- in the form of expanded influence from their engineers and others -- has increased. Engineers need to understand these concepts in order to manage their careers for greater satisfaction and contribution.

A research-based framework developed by Professors Gene Dalton and Paul Thompson called the Four StagesSM Model has been used by the Novations Group to help careerists understand how their employers expect them to grow and develop over the course of their careers.3 The model has proven invaluable to practicing engineers. It would seem that helping students understand these concepts before they left the university would accomplish two goals. One would be to teach material related to one or more of the attributes listed above and the other would be to empower graduates to take more control of their own career development.

The objectives of this paper are: 1) to provide a brief review of the Dalton-Thompson Four StagesSM model and other related concepts; and 2) to present a module for use in teaching students the concepts of how to manage their own careers. The paper will also present student reaction to the teaching of this material.

Review of Four StagesSM Model and Related Concepts

Terry, R. E., & Sandholtz, K. (1999, June), Empowering Graduates To Manage Professional Careers For Greater Satisfaction And Contribution Paper presented at 1999 Annual Conference, Charlotte, North Carolina.

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