What do employers expect of recent graduates in entry level environmental biology careers?
Trends in the career pathways of biology graduates and the rapid changes in the biological sciences highlight the need to reconsider academic preparation and skills development necessary for new career tracks in the 21st Century. This is particularly challenging for environmental biology where there are not clearly defined vocational tracks. Instead, career development is more focused on individual initiative.
We considered the possibility that many undergraduate scientific programs could enhance their preparation of students for career-oriented trajectories rather than grooming them specifically for graduate school. Hence, the Next Generation Careers – Innovation in Environmental Biology Education (NGC) RCN-UBE Incubator project aims to determine whether undergraduate environmental biology programs in the United States are effectively preparing their students for entry-level positions following graduation.
The incubator will generate recommendations that facilitate the awareness of university, community college and adjunct faculty as well as career development officers, administrators and professional society leaders to the full range of productive career options in environmental biology. In this presentation, we will focus on employer expectations of recent graduates.
Next Generation Careers - Innovation in Environmental Biology Education (NGC) will seed a new network with the goal to develop materials, programs and career development tracks to support workforce development for college graduate career progression into environmental biology fields. We conducted a scan of job ads for entry level positions in related jobs to analyze the most commonly sought skills for graduates with an Associateﾒs or Bachelorﾒs degree. Surveys of faculty, administrators and career counselors are being planned. Additionally, focus groups will be organized at eight Society meetings. The information gathered will inform workshop participants to be drawn from the broad range of sectors that employ graduates with environmental biology knowledge and skills.
At this stage, our work involves gathering information. The job ad scans will map out 1) the range of employers seeking graduates in environmental biology and; 2) the range of knowledge, skills and backgrounds employers are looking for. The surveys will identify existing approaches and perceptions of career preparation in higher education. Disciplinary societies are being engaged strategically to consider their roles in workforce development.
The outcome of the NGC incubator will be a hub of technical, curricular, and professional information and support for faculty, administrators, university placement offices, and accreditation programs that in turn inform students graduating in environmental biology. Findings of the job ad scan will be presented at this symposium. Findings from additional surveys and focus group sessions will be reported in coming months.
Results of this Incubator will be shared with the broader life sciences community and other science and mathematics faculty associations. While NGC focuses on the undergraduate audience, the findings will also provide insight for graduate level programs as well as K12 programs.
None to report at this time.