Helping engineering students get jobs: Views from career services professionals

Cheryl Carrico, Angela Harris, Holly M. Matusovich, Samantha Ruth Brunhaver, Ruth A. Streveler, Sheri Sheppard

Research output: Contribution to journalConference articlepeer-review

4 Scopus citations


A diverse and highly skilled engineering workforce is needed to address today's grand challenges involving sustainability, medicine, information technology, and learning. To grow such a workforce, research is needed to better grasp the decision-making of early career engineers as they seek their first post-undergraduate job. To aide in understanding this process, we first sought to understand the knowledge, skills, and abilities (KSAs) that career service professionals believe are critical for students to develop. Accordingly, we analyzed semi-structured qualitative interviews with career service professionals at two universities to answer the research questions: What knowledge, skills, and abilities (KSAs) do career service professionals perceive as important for undergraduate engineering students during the process of applying to, being considered for, and obtaining a job offer? How do career services professionals help students gain these KSAs? Our findings suggest that both universities believe their school's reputation insures employers that their engineering students will have sound engineering skills. In addition, they believe that acquiring a job offer requires a dynamic set of interactive abilities, such as marketing themselves and networking, which may not be addressed within the engineering curriculum or fully understood by students. Differences included approaches of optional versus required exposure to career services and philosophies of providing one-on-one assistance to proactively support students versus optional support designed to develop a student's self-awareness. Our findings suggest that career service professionals use their beliefs about students as a basis for decisions on how to support students. Implications of our study include considerations for how we inform students regarding knowledge and skills associated with successfully obtaining a first job post-undergraduate degree and how those knowledge and skills may be different from ones necessary to obtain an engineering degree.

Original languageEnglish (US)
JournalASEE Annual Conference and Exposition, Conference Proceedings
StatePublished - Jun 26 2016
Event123rd ASEE Annual Conference and Exposition - New Orleans, United States
Duration: Jun 26 2016Jun 29 2016

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Engineering


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