From Theory to Practice: Field Experimental Evidence on Early Exposure of Engineering Majors to Professional Work

41 Pages Posted: 4 Nov 2018 Last revised: 21 Jun 2019

See all articles by Kevin Boudreau

Kevin Boudreau

Northeastern University; National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER)

Matt Marx

Boston University Questrom School of Business

Multiple version iconThere are 2 versions of this paper

Date Written: June 20, 2019

Abstract

Abstract Young workers typically enter the professional labor market only after completing higher education. We investigate how earlier professional work experience affects skilled worker development. In a field experiment, 1,787 Engineering majors were randomly assigned to 6-month work terms to begin either in the second or third year of studies. Early exposure caused systematic differences in inclination to take Engineering elective courses, choice of major, and the probability of persisting in Engineering years later—consistent with engagement, retention, and sorting effects. Early exposure notably increased academic and professional outcomes of lower-income students.

Keywords: Skilled workers, Engineering, STEM, human capital.

JEL Classification: J2, I21, I26, O3

Suggested Citation

Boudreau, Kevin and Marx, Matt, From Theory to Practice: Field Experimental Evidence on Early Exposure of Engineering Majors to Professional Work (June 20, 2019). Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=3271144 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.3271144

Kevin Boudreau (Contact Author)

Northeastern University ( email )

805 Columbus Ave, Interdisciplinary Sci & Eng Bldg
Huntington Ave
Boston, MA 02115
United States

HOME PAGE: http://www.kevinboudreau.com

National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER) ( email )

1050 Massachusetts Avenue
Cambridge, MA 02138
United States

Matt Marx

Boston University Questrom School of Business ( email )

595 Commonwealth Ave
Boston, MA 02466
United States

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