A Moment with the Dean

A Moment with the Dean

Message from Debra Larson

January 08, 2012

Who's not concerned about the economy and employment? Even as they dig into their senior projects, students hoping to graduate this June are wondering how and if they'll land a job.

I have some good news for our job-seeking seniors and some advice.

First, the need for engineers has never been greater. Last year, in fact, President Obama's Council on Jobs and Competitiveness called for 10,000 new engineering graduates each year to fuel economic recovery and long-term growth.

Obviously, individual companies need engineers to increase productivity, improve product designs and optimize manufacturing processes. But engineers also boost overall employment through a "multiplier effect." Economists note that 50-80 percent of our economy is related to science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) fields, and that every engineering hire represents additional economic growth. One study found that five jobs are created for every information technology (IT) professional hired. Clearly, we cannot overstate the importance of engineering to the well-being of our region, state and national economies.

So, how are Cal Poly Engineering graduates fairing? Despite the challenging employment climate, 74 percent of our 2009-10 graduates are employed full-time, according to the university's Graduate Status Report. I'm betting that figure will increase when we compile the data for the Class of 2011. Cal Poly engineers also garner high salaries: the median starting salary for 2009-10 graduates was $62,000.

These figures indicate that Cal Poly is still producing highly valued, "job-ready" engineers. To make sure, the university Career Services surveyed employers in 2010-11. The 127 respondents rated the overall quality of our graduates very high: 4.46 on a 5-point scale. Employers were also highly satisfied with the industry readiness of our engineering grads (the scale score average of all engineering majors was 4.27).

Although the employment rate and industry perception of our graduates is very good, we want to do even better. In the recent survey, employers noted that the top four skill areas they value include ethical behavior, problem solving, oral communication and technical practice. While Cal Poly Engineering builds expertise in these areas through Learn by Doing projects, students can take steps to enhance their employment prospects by developing these skills.

And students preparing to hit the job market should get help from Career Services , which offers resume clinics, interview workshops and career fairs.

Access employer profiles and submit your resume for positions through MustangJobs . Connect with employers at upcoming career fairs:

Winter Career Fair (Jan. 18-19)
Civil & Environmental Job Fair (Jan. 27, Chumash)
Biomedical Industry Network (Feb. 1, ATL)
Local Job Fair (Feb. 23, Chumash Auditorium)
Spring Career Fair (April 18-19)

Be proactive in your job search - and be assured that Cal Poly Engineering is doing all it can to maintain and build its exceptional reputation as a source for engineers who "hit the ground running" and prove a great investment for regional, state and national companies.

Debra Larson , Ph.D., P.E.

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