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

42 Pages Posted: 9 Jul 2019 Last revised: 31 Jul 2021

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 2019

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.

Suggested Citation

Boudreau, Kevin and Marx, Matt, From Theory to Practice: Field Experimental Evidence on Early Exposure of Engineering Majors to Professional Work (June 2019). NBER Working Paper No. w26013, Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=3416328

Kevin Boudreau (Contact Author)

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National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER) ( email )

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Matt Marx

Boston University - Questrom School of Business ( email )

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