Career exploration (Engineering)

 
Purpose: To provide you with the opportunity to investigate two different career options in-depth
 
General Requirements:  
 

Research two different career options.  One must be a career you are seriously considering; the other can be a career you might be interested in or something you know you would never do.
You must use a minimum of 5 sources to research your paper.  These can be primary sources (e.g. interviews, observations, etc) or secondary sources (e.g. websites, journal articles, newspapers, campus resources, etc).  These sources must appear on a works cited page AND be properly cited in the body of your paper.
Your paper must be 5-10 pages long, 10 or 12 point font, one-inch margins all the way around, double-spaced.  Your name and course number should appear on the first page.
You must explore the career you are seriously considering in GREAT DETAIL.  You must be thorough, but you can be less detailed, for the second career.

 
Specific Requirements:
 

Professional Journal or Trade Journal.  You must identify and use as one of your sources a professional journal specific to the career fields (both of them) you are investigating.
Interview with a professional.  You must interview someone who is currently working in the career fields (both of them) you have chosen to research.  I actually recommend you interview two people: one who has been working only 6-12 months in his/her chosen career AND          one who has been working 5 years or more.  A few tips: (1) schedule and appointment soon so that you will have time to reschedule if a conflict arises; (2) attempt to conduct the interview in person, but be willing to do a phone interview or conduct correspondence by email if the interviewee prefers; (3) email the interview questions ahead of time so he/she can be better prepared; and (4) follow-up with a thank you note!  Some questions to ask in the interview (you may come up with others after conducting some initial research:

What college courses have been most beneficial to you in your career?
What additional courses do you wish you had taken?
What do you know now that you wish you had known when you were still in college?
What do you wish you had done differently in college?
What types of extracurricular activities would be beneficial to someone hoping to enter this field?
What can a new graduate do to distinguish himself/herself to prospective employers in this particular career field?
What would you do differently if you had the opportunity to start over in your career?
What is involved in a typical day on the job in your career?
What are some requirements of the job that have been totally unexpected?
What is required of professionals working in this career in terms of travel, average hours per week, publishing, research, conference attendance, collegiality, professional development, etc.?

 
3.  Observation of a professional.  Where possible and practicable, spend time (at least two hours) observing a professional at work in the careers you are researching.  This is, of course, more beneficial for some occupations than others.  For example, you may learn quite a bit by observing a teacher in the classroom or a lawyer in the courtroom, but gain absolutely nothing by watching an accountant perform calculations on a calculator for two hours.  Use your discretion.  I understand that this requirement may not be applicable in all instances.
 
Specific Content Requirements:  At a minimum, your career research paper must include the following information for both of the careers you investigate:

Salary.  What is the current starting salary?  What is the average salary?  What are the top salaries?
Outlook.  What is the current outlook for employment opportunities in this field (i.e. are there many or few jobs available)?  What is the outlook in four or five years when you expect to graduate?
Location.  Where are the best employment opportunities in this field?  For example, if you want to be an actor, your chances for working in that field are greater in New York or LA than in Kennesaw.
Requirements for entry–level position.  What are the requirements needed in an entry-level position?  For example, do you need a B.A., M.A. or PhD for the career?  What types of experience/internship is required or desirable?  What academic AND non-academic skills do employers look for?  Is fluency in a second language desirable or a requirement?  Do you need a car?  Computer skills?
Professional Expectations.  What is expected of you in a professional capacity once you enter your career field?  Will you have to take continuing education courses?  Work overtime? Travel?  Attend conferences?  Learn new skills to advance?  Publish?  Conduct research?  Perform a variety of duties that you would not typically expect in your career field (often true in small businesses where each employee wears many hats).
Typical tasks required on the job.  What are they typical duties, responsibilities, and tasks that will fill your days in this career?  For example, as a surgeon you would expect to perform surgery on patients, but what about auxiliary responsibilities like writing prescriptions, learning about advances in medicine by reading professional journals, visiting patients in the hospital following surgery, completing paperwork, managing nursing care, removing stitches, reading x-ray and test results, consulting with other doctors, etc.
Perks and/or benefits.  What are the perks (payment or profit received in addition to a regular wage or salary, especially a benefit expected as ones due) or benefits of this career?  Medical insurance?  Company car?  Access to company facilities?  Free or discounted products or services?
Examination of this career as a viable option for you.  Conclude your paper with a discussion of whether or not you find this career a desirable one for you.  Consider your interests, personality type, skills, preferences, values and any other personal attributes or topics we have explored during the semester.  Do you believe you would be happy at this job?  Why or why not?  What do you like least about this career?  What do you like most?  Would you be able to work at this job for a lifetime?  Do you see room for advancement?  Which of your personal attributes make you most suited for this career?  Which make you least suited?  Would you be willing to make sacrifices in certain aspects of your life in order to work in this career (i.e. move to a new city, delay marriage, make less money, etc)?

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