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Title: First Year Practicing Civil Engineers’ Challenges
CONTEXT The need to better prepare students for the engineering workplace is a long-standing and on-going concern among engineering educators. With the aim of addressing gaps in preparation, the number of new work- and practice-based programs is growing. Identifying the first and most significant challenges recent graduates face in the workplace can contribute new insights into how students could be better prepared for the school-to-work transition. PURPOSE In order to better understand the transition from school to work, this paper presents findings from the first year of a five-year longitudinal study exploring the experiences and career trajectories of early career engineers. The specific question addressed in this paper is: What was the biggest challenge civil engineers experienced during their first year in the workplace? METHODS Eighteen early career civil engineers participated in semi-structured interviews in May of 2019. Participants were recruited from national and local listservs in the United States. None worked in the same office, although two worked for the same company in different offices. They were asked a range of questions related to their experiences transitioning into their careers. For this paper, responses pertaining to the biggest challenge question were analysed through open coding to determine if any themes could more » be identified in participants’ responses. OUTCOMES Participants were asked about the biggest challenge they had encountered since starting their job. Their responses covered a very wide range of issues. There were three themes of note that appeared in at least four different participants’ responses. They were: 1) interdependence, 2) new practices and material, and 3) negative interactions. 1 and 2 were cited by both men and women; 3 was only cited by women. CONCLUSIONS In addition to providing insights into job readiness that engineering educators can address, the findings speak to several aspects of organizational socialization. Most participants’ biggest challenges (in the form of interdependence and new practices and materials) were related to “learning & adaptation.” Challenges related to “relationship building” and “work group socialization tactics” (in the form of negative interactions) were only the biggest challenges for women, not men. However, negative interactions also extended beyond factors accounted for in current models of organizational socialization, and should be accounted for in revised models. KEYWORDS Early career, job readiness, organizational socialization « less
Authors:
Award ID(s):
1929727
Publication Date:
NSF-PAR ID:
10134973
Journal Name:
Australasian Association for Engineering Education Annual Conference
Sponsoring Org:
National Science Foundation
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