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Preparing Engineering Students to Find the Best Job Fit: Starting Early with the Career Development Process

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2023 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition


Baltimore , Maryland

Publication Date

June 25, 2023

Start Date

June 25, 2023

End Date

June 28, 2023

Conference Session

Chemical Engineering Division (ChED) Technical Session 10: Teaming and Professional Skills

Tagged Division

Chemical Engineering Division (ChED)

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Paper Authors


Cheryl Carrico, P.E. E4S, LLC Orcid 16x16

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Cheryl Carrico is owner of E4S, LLC. E4S, LLC conducts external evaluations, engineering education research, and industry consulting. Her current research focus relates to STEM career pathways and conceptual understanding of core engineering principles. She volunteers on several boards and is president of the Appalachian Council for Innovation. Her evaluation & assessment work includes grants, workshops, and others for a variety of disciplines (>$10M in value). She has worked with over 60 small to mid size businesses to help them grow organically and commercialize products. She has a B.S. in Chemical Engineering, Masters in Engineering and Business Administration, and a Ph. D. in Engineering Education.

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Holly M. Matusovich Virginia Tech

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Dr. Holly Matusovich is the Associate Dean for Graduate and Professional Studies in the College of Engineering at Virginia Tech and a Professor in the Department of Engineering Education where she has also served in key leadership positions. Dr. Matusovich is recognized for her research and leadership related to graduate student mentoring and faculty development. She won the Hokie Supervisor Spotlight Award in 2014, received the College of Engineering Graduate Student Mentor Award in 2018, and was inducted into the Virginia Tech Academy of Faculty Leadership in 2020. Dr. Matusovich has been a PI/Co-PI on 19 funded research projects including the NSF CAREER Award, with her share of funding being nearly $3 million. She has co-authored 2 book chapters, 34 journal publications, and more than 80 conference papers. She is recognized for her research and teaching, including Dean’s Awards for Outstanding New Faculty, Outstanding Teacher Award, and a Faculty Fellow. Dr. Matusovich has served the Educational Research and Methods (ERM) division of ASEE in many capacities over the past 10+ years including serving as Chair from 2017-2019. Dr. Matusovich is currently the Editor-in-Chief of the journal, Advances in Engineering Education and she serves on the ASEE committee for Scholarly Publications.

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Sreyoshi Bhaduri ThatStatsGirl

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Dr. Sreyoshi Bhaduri is an Engineering Educator and People Research Scientist. Sreyoshi's expertise lies at the intersection of workforce development, AI and emerging technology, and engineering education. As a Research Scientist in the tech industry, Sreyoshi leverages AI for mixed-methods research on and for people at work, ensuring that organizations intentionally center the human experience. Sreyoshi has spoken at over 100+ global venues, addressing diverse audiences ranging from academics, NSF PIs, industry leaders, entrepreneurs, and professionals to students or high-schoolers starting out with Computer Sciences, helping them strategize and broaden participation, as well as explore, understand, and apply emerging technologies. Sreyoshi is committed to broadening participation among underrepresented minorities in engineering and serves as a Senator at the Society of Women Engineers. She is also part of the Advisory Board at the College of Engineering at Virginia Tech and serves as an Advisor to the leadership at Sisters in STEM. Sreyoshi frequently collaborates on several National Science Foundation projects in the engineering education realm, researching engineering career trajectories, student motivation, and learning. Sreyoshi has been recognized as a Fellow at the Academy for Teaching Excellence at Virginia Tech (VTGrATE) and a Fellow at the Global Perspectives Program (GPP) and was inducted to the Yale Bouchet Honor Society during her time at Virginia Tech. She has also been honored as an Engaged Advocate in 2022 and an Emerging Leader in Technology (New ELiTE) in 2021 by the Society of Women Engineers. Views expressed in this paper are the author's own, and do not necessarily reflect those of organizations she is associated with. Learn more about Sreyoshi's impact -

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In spite of the vast amount of literature that focuses on the need for significantly more science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) graduates, the importance of a student finding a good career fit, and what makes a student employable, little research exists on undergraduate engineering students’ understanding of the process of how to find, qualify for, and secure a preferred first position after graduation (FPAG). Likewise, it is important for research to consider nuanced distinctions within STEM fields to assist research to practice transitions. Competition in securing jobs upon graduation is expected to continue, including for engineering positions. In fact, even in a market of high demand for STEM graduates, employers need candidates that display the skills, interests, and readiness to be successful employees.

A gap remains in understanding how prepared students feel and how they improve their preparedness to obtain their preferred FPAG, in particular within a specific discipline under the STEM domain. To explore this gap, we sought to answer these research questions: 1) What are students’ self-rated perceptions of preparedness for their preferred FPAG and how do they compare to externally applied ratings? 2) What are common characteristics of preparedness levels? To answer our research questions, we qualitatively analyzed semi-structured interviews with undergraduate chemical engineering students at two different universities. We situated our study in the Professional Pathways Model (PPM), which uses Sampson et al.’s Cognitive Information Processing Theory as a lens for Eccles et al.’s Expectancy-Value Theory (EVT) of student achievement motivation. The PPM provides a comprehensive view of the knowledge, values, and ability beliefs that students bring to bear in making career decisions. Specifically, the PPM provides a way to examine how career knowledge and self-knowledge develop and contribute to student preparedness for motivated career choices.

We interviewed chemical engineering students from two universities to better understand their perceived and objective preparedness to acquire their FPAG. We found that students’ self-assessment of preparedness is often overestimated and a few key characteristics separate levels of preparedness. Our research has important implications for all career decision-maker socializers. Our findings reveal that students may not be accurate with their self-assessment of preparedness for the job acquisition process. In fact, they overrated preparedness in several cases. Our research suggests that it is likely that students are overestimating their abilities because they lack an accurate understanding of what the career development process entails. Through our paper we offer pragmatic suggestions for faculty and career counselors on how to support students with this career development process. These findings are also relevant to career development professionals as they advise entry level professionals on career advancement strategies.

Carrico,, C., & Matusovich, H. M., & Bhaduri, S. (2023, June), Preparing Engineering Students to Find the Best Job Fit: Starting Early with the Career Development Process Paper presented at 2023 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition, Baltimore , Maryland. 10.18260/1-2--43951

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