Engineering Sebastian Chair Interviewed by Zippia on Current Job Market Trends

May 25, 2021

Engineering Sebastian Chair Interviewed by Zippia on Current Job Market Trends

Diane LaFreniere, James R. Sebastian Chair for Assessment, Accreditation, and Cooperative Education, provided industry insight on current job market trends to Zippia as part of their panel of experts. 

The Zippia interview is shared below:

"Zippia: In your opinion, what are the biggest trends we'll see in the job market given the pandemic?

LaFreniere: The pandemic has created an enormous opportunity for students to understand the need for adaptability, positivity, and team work. For engineering students, this translates to a broader skillset with the depth and breadth of exposure to transition to interdisciplinary engineering roles that require a strong initiative and willingness to contribute in an individual and group capacity. For employees, this will require an increased awareness and desire to improve computer-related and communication skills to adapt to a flexible or remote work schedule, as well as assume greater responsibility in diverse capacities. For employers, this translates toward revised position descriptions and career paths and recruitment strategies to seek candidates who are equipped to navigate new directions and pivot into a variety of roles within the organization. At Grand Valley State University, we emphasize the need for a strong engineering core with greater specialization for students approaching graduation. The mandatory co-op program and senior capstone experience equips the students with the technical skillset necessary for interdisciplinary engineering teamwork, along with the essential skills necessary to conduct themselves professionally and become future engineering leaders.

Zippia: What soft skills should all graduates possess?

LaFreniere: All engineering graduates should possess solid time and organizational management skills, as well as the ability to professionally conduct themselves in a team environment that promotes collaboration and inclusivity and a strong initiative to understand the importance of acquiring and applying new knowledge, using appropriate learning strategies. Given the increased focus on professional skills, one of the major objectives of the GVSU engineering co-op program is to ensure that all students understand the significance of an essential skillset, which is necessary for future professional growth and development, as well as career pivoting with changing interests or demand. At GVSU, we have seen an increased interest in employer-sponsored education aimed at talent development that builds technical and professional expertise, with a focus on a growth mindset, as well as project management, ethics, communications, and teamwork. The GVSU co-op program and senior capstone experience provide a unique opportunity for continuous industrial collaboration to build a strong professional skillset through online modules, curricular projects, classroom instruction, and industry-sponsored project work that reinforce discipline-specific industry work.

Zippia: How have salaries changed over time in your field?

LaFreniere: Given the increased demand for engineering professionals, the salaries have steadily increased with graduating seniors securing positions with base salaries of $65K+. The starting salaries vary slightly depending upon engineering discipline. Students with a greater depth/breadth of knowledge base and experience often receive base offers of $75-80K or more. At Grand Valley, students often review and compare the cost of living when assessing an offer, as the base salary and future salary increases must be considered in connection with local living expenses. In light of the recent health crisis, more candidates are evaluating the standard/cost of living, in addition to the salary, and making decisions accordingly."

View the original interview, published by Zippia.

View the School of Engineering website.


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Page last modified May 25, 2021