Existing research suggests a misalignment between the preparation offered by higher education and the workplace readiness skills employers are expecting recent graduates to have mastered. Multiple studies completed on the topic of workplace readiness explored the views of employers, while few gathered the perspectives of students or recent graduates. This embedded mixed methods study invited both undergraduate seniors’ and recent graduates’ to participate in an on-line survey capturing perceptions of their own workplace readiness and their thoughts regarding the role the university should have in student career development. Current undergraduate seniors and first-year alumni of a private, 4-year non-profit university were surveyed resulting in two samples: 212 undergraduate seniors representing approximately 28% of the senior class and 42 first-year alumni representing approximately 7%. The findings of this study revealed that undergraduates and recent graduates believe the institution should support students’ workplace preparation, including technical and soft skill development. While many undergraduate students’ and recent graduates’ were pleased with their college experience, the majority cited a need for the integration of targeted career development opportunities within their coursework that aligns with current industry expectations. A triangulation of the findings, resulted in 5 conclusions: (a) alumni and seniors share similar views as to the importance of the university’s role in supporting students’ career development by integrating career-preparation programming within all areas of the student experience, (b) students expect the institution to serve as their talent scout for employers, (c) career preparation programming and academics should not be mutually exclusive of each other, (d) alumni and seniors believe college serves as a training ground for students to become independent adults, and (e) despite having personal experience within the workforce, the views of alumni and seniors were similar regarding workplace readiness. Higher education leaders are encouraged to communicate with employers for career-related trends in the industry to help inform the integration of career development programming into all aspects of student life. The study results contribute to existing literature by providing insight into the student’s perspective on workplace readiness and the university’s role in supporting students’ career development and transition into the workplace.

Library of Congress Subject Headings

Dissertations (EdD) -- Learning technologies; Career development -- Case studies; Education, Higher -- Evaluation; College students -- Employment -- Attitudes

Date of Award


School Affiliation

Graduate School of Education and Psychology



Degree Type


Degree Name


Faculty Advisor

Davis, Kay D.;