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How well are graduates prepared to compete on the job market? An Alumni based analysis of factors influencing the employment and careers of graduates of the Medical Neurosciences MSc program

  • The career trajectories, professional performance, and satisfaction of graduates are often not known to the coordinators of study programs, left alone the demands of the labor market. Existing studies and surveys are often only cross-sectional snapshots of relatively large national or international graduate cohorts, often surveying multiple scientific disciplines in one survey. The domineering amount of studies for the biomedical disciplines is also focusing on and targeting the US American educational system and labor market, which differs substantially from the system for professional training established in the Bologna area. As a result, individual programs often face substantial difficulties identifying meaningful information to optimize their training to the demands of the labor market. Since academic programs of full, Ph.D. awarding universities in Germany traditionally tend to consider themselves primarily responsible for the demand of academia itself. The relationship between a student and its supervisor during a research project (e.g. MSc or Ph.D. thesis) in the natural sciences is often best described by a master-apprentice relationship, which in itself also only reflects the need of the academic job market. This poses a major problem since only an estimated 5-15% of all graduates will remain in academia long term. Detailed knowledge about the current demands of the labor market is important to ensure the success of graduates when competing in the whole labor market. Large, cross-sectional studies unfortunately often are not able to identify the individual strength and weaknesses of a program, and an in-depth, detailed analysis of the labor market is usually beyond the capacities of an individual program. This searches for a reliable source of information, which can be analyzed with limited resources a relevant one. Theoretically, the community of program alumni should be easy to access the source, containing all relevant information. This thesis, therefore, tries to probe a specific alumni community for relevant and actionable information regarding the career trajectory of graduates. Together with current students and alumni, a survey was developed and communicated to the alumni community with the following results: • Mainly recently graduated Alumni answered the survey. Accordingly, the responders were largely in early post‐graduation career stages, many still in their first post‐graduation employment, with an overrepresentation of academic research. • Studying in Germany increased the professional occupation in Germany from 20% before to 60% afterward • Although the labor market proofed to be more diverse than anticipated during the drafting of the survey, metric concerning satisfaction, influence on hiring, and other parameters were similar between different groups of alumni • This analysis grouped the surveyed alumni into two groups, working within or outside academia (Academics or non‐Academics, respectively) and either holding or not holding a Ph.D. title or equivalent doctorate in both work environments, leading to four sub‐groups. • These two groups and four subgroups revealed major differences concerning the competence profiles investigated. • A particularly critical parameter for professional development is the first occupation after graduation and the transition period to that occupation • The scientific knowledge and competence in biomedical sciences were considered surprisingly unimportant. • Of particular importance were all aspects of communication, the ability to handle large sets of data, and general IT‐competence. • To keep the education and training of a graduate program adequate to the changing demands of the current labor market, easily modifiable program structures and effective feedback mechanisms need to be implemented. Therefore, it appears the alumni survey has the potential to produce meaningful and actionable information to construct curricular relevant to the demands of the labor market. However, special strategies need to be developed to ensure the participation of valuable older alumni to avoid overrepresentation of academic researchers. Breaking up the rather lengthy survey into a longitudinal structure with shorter surveys at a time would likely result in improved quantity and quality of data. Surveying alumni through a consortium of similar, close collaboration programs would also help to contextualize information and to establish reliable benchmarks.

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Author:Benedikt Salmen
Title (English):How well are graduates prepared to compete on the job market? An Alumni based analysis of factors influencing the employment and careers of graduates of the Medical Neurosciences MSc program
Referee:Frank Ziegele, Hans Vossensteyn
Document Type:Master's Thesis
Year of Completion:2020
Publishing Institution:Hochschule Osnabrück
Granting Institution:Hochschule Osnabrück, Fakultät WiSo
Date of final exam:2020/10/01
Release Date:2024/05/27
Page Number:119
MBA-Studiengang Hochschul- und Wissenschaftsmanagement
Faculties:Fakultät WiSo
DDC classes:000 Allgemeines, Informatik, Informationswissenschaft / 000 Allgemeines, Wissenschaft
Review Status:Veröffentlichte Fassung/Verlagsversion