Engineering and Physics Faculty Research and Publications

Title

Identity in Engineering Adulthood: An Interpretative Phenomenological Analysis of Early-Career Engineers in the United States as They Transition to the Workplace

Document Type

Article

Publication Title

Emerging Adulthood

Publication Date

6-20-2018

Volume

7

Issue

6

First Page

451

Last Page

467

Abstract

Prior research has established emerging adulthood to be a time characterized by robust identity explorations in professional and nonprofessional domains. However, extant literature provides little contextual explanations in relation to how these identity explorations are experienced by early-career professionals. This article presents idiographic findings from a qualitative study that used interpretative phenomenological analysis on interviews with seven engineering students as they transitioned to their respective workplaces. These findings describe how the participants experienced a strong sense of commitment to their career identities while also exploring features of their identities that were unrelated to their careers. Additionally, we discuss how women participants experienced a gendered form tension in managing their career and family roles. In sum, this article contributes detailed insight regarding coherence and complexity of personal identity development as lived by early-career professionals.

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