Accounting for Occupational Identity Work in the Attrition of Newcomer Civil Engineers: Theoretical Model
Journal of Civil Engineering Education
Early-career engineers leave the profession at high rates, and much remains unknown about why that is so. Consequently, there have been calls for more research to better understand newcomer engineers' experiences and attrition. The purpose of this article is therefore to examine the experiences of newcomer engineers from different universities and engineering firms around the US. The research questions addressed are as follows: (1) How do newcomer engineers characterize engineering work? and (2) What insights can their characterizations provide about newcomer attrition from engineering careers? A longitudinal study was conducted with recent civil engineering graduates in the US. Three sets of semistructured interviews were conducted in 2019 and 2020. Open coding methods were used to answer the first research question. Based on those emergent findings, the data was then analyzed through the lens of expectancy-value theory to answer the second research question. Misalignments between subjective task values created and/or reinforced in school were a prevalent source of dissatisfaction. There was a need for participants to engage in occupational identity work to reconcile the meanings of engineering and align their identities as engineers with workplace realities. Implications for future research and the engineering education system are discussed.
EEC No. 1929727
National Science Foundation
Early career, Newcomer, Occupational identity work, Retention, Socialization
Kacey Beddoes. "Accounting for Occupational Identity Work in the Attrition of Newcomer Civil Engineers: Theoretical Model" Journal of Civil Engineering Education (2023). https://doi.org/10.1061/JCEECD.EIENG-1917