Asee peer logo

Smoothing the Transition: Design, Implementation and Assessment of a “Preparing Future Professionals” Course for Graduate Students

Download Paper |


2011 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition


Vancouver, BC

Publication Date

June 26, 2011

Start Date

June 26, 2011

End Date

June 29, 2011



Conference Session

Methods, Techniques, and New Programs in Graduate Education

Tagged Division

Graduate Studies

Page Count


Page Numbers

22.1304.1 - 22.1304.6



Permanent URL

Download Count


Request a correction

Paper Authors


Cyndi Lynch Purdue University, West Lafayette

visit author page

Cyndi Lynch is the Director of Fellowships and Graduate Student Professional Development for the Purdue Graduate School. Cyndi administers the Univeristy fellowship program and directs the professional development program for graduate students.

visit author page


Jiabin Zhu Purdue University, West Lafayette

visit author page

Jiabin Zhu is a Ph.D. student in the School of Engineering Education at Purdue University. She
obtained a B.S. in Physics from East China Normal University, a M.S. in Optics from Chinese
Academy of Sciences (CAS), and a second M.S. in Biomedical Engineering from Purdue University. Her primary research interests relate to comparative study methods and frameworks in engineering education, global engineering, professional development and mentoring of engineering graduate students. She is a student member of American Society for Engineering Education (ASEE).

visit author page


Monica Farmer Cox Purdue University, West Lafayette

visit author page

Monica F. Cox, Ph.D., is an Assistant Professor in the School of Engineering Education at Purdue University. She obtained a B.S. in mathematics from Spelman College, a M.S. in industrial
engineering from the University of Alabama, and a Ph.D. in Leadership and Policy Studies from Peabody College of Vanderbilt University. Teaching interests relate to the professional development of graduate engineering students and to leadership, policy, and change in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics education. Primary research projects explore the preparation of engineering doctoral students for careers in academia and industry and the development of engineering education assessment tools. She is a NSF Faculty Early Career (CAREER) award winner and is a recipient of a Presidential Early Career Award for Scientists and Engineers (PECASE).

visit author page

Download Paper |


Smoothing the Transition: Design, Implementation and Assessment of a “Preparing Future Professionals” Course for Graduate StudentsIt is important that graduate students become citizen scholars in our knowledge-based economy.Beyond the development of their technical and research expertise, graduate students must beprepared for diverse career opportunities and be able to respond to the many challenges facingthe world. Graduate schools serve an important role in the professional development of graduatestudents. Recognizing the important role that graduate education serves in preparing students fordiverse careers beyond academia, we designed, implemented and assessed a professionaldevelopment course for graduate students. Preparing Future Professionals is a graduate-levelcourse that facilitates the transition of doctoral students to careers in business, government, andnon-profit organizations. PFP is a mentorship course designed to support doctoral students intheir exploration of diverse professional environments and to understand their roles andresponsibilities as global citizens.In this course, we introduce the graduate students to diverse topics that facilitate their transitionsto professional careers. Through dialogues with industry professionals, including technical staffand university recruiters, students cover topics that include: 1) job search process andapplication materials, 2) essential skills for the 21st century to be successful in the workplace, 3)understanding business organizations, cultures, and working in interdisciplinary teams, and 4)what it means to be successful in companies and organizations.Student learning outcomes include 1) assembling a professional portfolio, 2) generatingstrategies for success in the career advancement, 3) networking with career professionals, 4)developing a career strategic plan, and 5) relating their career goals and skill sets to variousinstitutional missions and values, company cultures, and expected job functions.Assessment of learning outcomes occurs through both formative and summative formats.Students respond to weekly discussion questions with a structured format focused on the benefitsto them of the specific topics for that session, action items that they will implement, and areas forfurther inquiry. Summative assessment occurs through students’ final submission of portfolios(Curriculum Vitae, résumé, cover letter, research statement, and leadership philosophy) at theend of the semester.Preparing Future Professionals serves as a model in the field of professional development forthe transition of graduate students to become future professionals. The lessons learned from thedesign, implementation and assessment of this course provide direct impact to the professionaldevelopment progress of graduate students on campus and also broader impact to the launchingof similar professional development courses, workshops and programs in this field.  

Lynch, C., & Zhu, J., & Cox, M. F. (2011, June), Smoothing the Transition: Design, Implementation and Assessment of a “Preparing Future Professionals” Course for Graduate Students Paper presented at 2011 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition, Vancouver, BC. 10.18260/1-2--18730

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: © 2011 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