New Orleans, Louisiana
June 26, 2016
June 26, 2016
August 28, 2016
Liberal Education/Engineering & Society
What factors contribute to persistence or attrition in professional engineering work amongst young engineers? Past research has examined the formation of engineering students’ professional identity, showing that the images of work students articulate at various stages of their education reflect not only students’ identity in formation, but also their expectations about the type of work they will undertake as professional engineers. However, past research has not directly examined the transition period from college to the workforce—the time when young engineers compare their expectations of professional engineering work with their actual work activity. In this paper, we discuss the transition experiences of young engineers. Drawing from interviews (n = 30) with 16 soon-to-graduate and recently graduated engineers, we examine how new engineers assess their fit with their jobs. We focus on how engineers articulate whether their first jobs match the images of work they envisioned as college students, and how these engineers draw on images of work formed through undergraduate work experience and discussions of work in classroom settings to assess their fit in their jobs. We find that students who participated in pre-graduation internships in similar work environments had better articulated images of daily work than those who had participated in internships in different work environments or who had no internship experience at all. We further find that students who have held internships in several different companies tend to have smooth and satisfying transitions into full-time work. Our findings have implications for understanding the mechanisms affecting persistence and attrition in professional engineering work by highlighting the role of pre-graduation work experience in the college-to-work transition.
Vinson, A., & Stevens, R. (2016, June), Staying In or Getting Out: The Relationship Between Undergraduate Work Exposure and Job Satisfaction After Graduation Paper presented at 2016 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition, New Orleans, Louisiana. 10.18260/p.25867
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