Virtual On line
June 22, 2020
June 22, 2020
June 26, 2021
Educational Research and Methods
This research paper describes a mixed methods exploration into the early career pathways of individuals who majored in biomedical engineering, environmental engineering, and interdisciplinary/multidisciplinary engineering. There are a number of studies that investigate students’ pathways post-graduation; however, most of these studies focus solely on engineering industry pathways or track the first placement after graduation. This study explores a wider perspective of pathways that engineering graduates may take through a retrospective study at a single institute. First, we examined how 273 alumni retrospectively described the first four positions in their career pathways (e.g., working in a particular job, attending graduate school, etc.). We used descriptive statistics to understand patterns in graduate programs, job titles, and industry sectors. We found that even when positions did not include “engineer” in the job title, many alumni remained in engineering-related sectors or reported that their positions were related to engineering. We also leveraged Sankey diagrams to represent the “flow” of individuals across different positions. These diagrams revealed the breadth of career pathways, with alumni moving into and out of engineering positions. Second, we performed a content analysis on write-in responses in which alumni expanded upon their survey answers. Within the interpretive limits of the data, we observed two general ways in which alumni framed their careers. In “positive” presentations, alumni discussed the value of their engineering degree, especially the development of problem-solving skills. In “negative” presentations, alumni expressed a lack of control over their careers and expressed doubts over their relationship with engineering. Additionally, several alumni commented about being unconventional in their careers, which is notable given the general heterogeneity of early career pathways. These findings have implications for continued conversations about degree programs that ostensibly prepare students to work as engineers, but which also prepare them to seek out other fulfilling career opportunities. Future work based on this preliminary analysis will explore the career pathways of other engineering majors.
Rohde, J., & France, J., & Benedict, B., & Godwin, A. (2020, June), Exploring the Early Career Pathways of Degree Holders from Biomedical, Environmental, and Interdisciplinary/Multidisciplinary Engineering Paper presented at 2020 ASEE Virtual Annual Conference Content Access, Virtual On line . 10.18260/1-2--34646
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