Full Paper The Career Identity Program:
Creating a Personalized Academic-to-Career Plan for First-Year Engineering Students
Many first-year engineering students have limited knowledge in determining the difference between engineering disciplines. Additionally, undeveloped career goals and lack of experience further complicates students’ ability to make informed decisions regarding major choice. Given this challenge, it is not surprising that 80% of all college students change majors before graduation1. As a result of this uncertainty, students face increased time to degree completion, additional financial burden, anxiety and doubt about major and career choices, and sometimes, failure to graduate. In response to this challenge, in 2016, a Career Development Center (CDC) developed the Career Identity Program (CIP). Collaborating with academic units, the partnership set out to help successfully navigate students toward their academic and career goals through intentionally designed workshops to challenge guide students toward personal values and passions. The goal is to reduce the number of major changes, time to degree completion and increase participant career readiness upon graduation.
The CIP is a series of interconnected, activity-based workshops and guest speakers that build on each other to help students design meaningful, values-driven careers. Students also meet with their Career Identity Coach individually throughout the year for customized, intensive academic and career coaching. Coaches help students examine 1) their interests, skills, and motivations; 2) their understanding of career pathways and related majors; 3) their career-related activities and experiences, and how to maximize those experiences in becoming career ready.
In 2016-2017, the CIP served 93 engineering students leading to overwhelming success and support from students and advisors for expansion. In 2017, to reach more students, the CDC launched the Career Identity Coaching Training Program providing training for 12 adviser/staff partners to support workshop offerings for student participants. This paper highlights the CIP program and its incorporation within the program curriculum of an Engineering Living-Learning Community.
The Engineering Living-Learning Village (EV), a residential community comprising 400 first-year engineers, took on a leadership role in expanding the CIP to serve more Village residents. Village staff completed 15 hours of coach training by CDC and provided individual coaching for 35 Village residents and CIP participants, increasing to 123 engineering students in the second year. The addition of the CIP to the Village’s extant academic and professional development program offerings has not only increased the added value of the Village experience for students, but has also strengthened the Village’s connections with key campus partners like the CDC. Assessments are currently underway to determine the efficacy of the program within the Village and will be available upon conference presentation.
1About 80 percent of students in the U.S. change their major at least once. On average, college students change their major three times over the course of their college career. (National Center for Education Statistics, Mar 15, 2013)
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