Project Title

Graduating Engineering Students' Core Self-Evaluation and Engineering Identity during Job Search

Academic department under which the project should be listed

RCHSS - Psychological Science

Faculty Sponsor Name

Dianhan Zheng

Abstract (300 words maximum)

Although STEM (science, technology, engineering, & mathematics) labor force has a lower unemployment rate than non-STEM labor force, challenges in finding a professional job in one’s field of highest degree still exist for college STEM students. According to the National Survey of College Graduates (2019), recent science and engineering (S&E) graduates had a higher unemployment rate than all scientists and engineers. Additionally, 7% of S&E highest degree holders were employed out of their field. However, existing research has paid little attention to factors that facilitate S&E students’ job search. The purpose of this study is to examine engineering students’ individual differences as antecedents of their job search behavior. We draw on research in organizational psychology and focus on engineering students’ core selfevaluation (CSE), which consists of four traits: self-esteem, self-efficacy (i.e., generalized belief that one has the ability to complete tasks successfully), locus of control (i.e., the degree to which one believes that he or she controls the outcomes in life), and emotional stability (Judge et al., 1997). We first hypothesize that students with high CSE have stronger engineering identity, because their positive self-evaluation may result in stronger identification regarding their career choices. Secondly, we hypothesize that engineering identity, in turn, is related to more effective job search behaviors (i.e., higher job search intensity, more focused and exploratory job search strategies, and less haphazard job search strategies). Engineering identity is hypothesized to mediate the relationship between CSE and job search behaviors. We will test these hypotheses by collecting survey data from engineering job seekers from a large Southeastern university (Expected N = 100). The data will be analyzed using the PROCESS macro in SPSS. The findings will provide practical implications for engineering students’ career management.

Keywords: job search, core self-evaluation, engineering identity, job search strategies, engineering students

Project Type

Poster

How will this be presented?

Yes, synchronously via Teams

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Graduating Engineering Students' Core Self-Evaluation and Engineering Identity during Job Search

Although STEM (science, technology, engineering, & mathematics) labor force has a lower unemployment rate than non-STEM labor force, challenges in finding a professional job in one’s field of highest degree still exist for college STEM students. According to the National Survey of College Graduates (2019), recent science and engineering (S&E) graduates had a higher unemployment rate than all scientists and engineers. Additionally, 7% of S&E highest degree holders were employed out of their field. However, existing research has paid little attention to factors that facilitate S&E students’ job search. The purpose of this study is to examine engineering students’ individual differences as antecedents of their job search behavior. We draw on research in organizational psychology and focus on engineering students’ core selfevaluation (CSE), which consists of four traits: self-esteem, self-efficacy (i.e., generalized belief that one has the ability to complete tasks successfully), locus of control (i.e., the degree to which one believes that he or she controls the outcomes in life), and emotional stability (Judge et al., 1997). We first hypothesize that students with high CSE have stronger engineering identity, because their positive self-evaluation may result in stronger identification regarding their career choices. Secondly, we hypothesize that engineering identity, in turn, is related to more effective job search behaviors (i.e., higher job search intensity, more focused and exploratory job search strategies, and less haphazard job search strategies). Engineering identity is hypothesized to mediate the relationship between CSE and job search behaviors. We will test these hypotheses by collecting survey data from engineering job seekers from a large Southeastern university (Expected N = 100). The data will be analyzed using the PROCESS macro in SPSS. The findings will provide practical implications for engineering students’ career management.

Keywords: job search, core self-evaluation, engineering identity, job search strategies, engineering students

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