As recently as the last week in January, 2013, I received a typical call from a potential employer to place two graduate students. The company needed 2–4 years of general work experience for the first job, and 5–8 years for the second job. Even ten to fifteen years ago this placement would have been fairly routine, but not today. As we enter the middle part of the fifth decade of our graduate program at West Virginia University, we have noticed a substantial shift in the student demographic and the changes have some important rippling effects. Studentsare much younger and, upon surveying them, we find that they have a good moral compass; they are altruistic and understand ethics. But they lack basic work or managerial experience and have not yet had a chance to learn the written and unwritten rules about office behavior and business etiquette. Even despite these missed opportunities, students in this new demographic also understand the need for becoming a leader and not just a manager in safety or engineering. They also understand the need to rapidly transition from student to professional. Butunfortunately, unless they are enrolled in a military-related undergraduate program, today's students entering safety or engineering will probably not be sufficiently exposed to a thorough treatment of leadership theory including notions such as values congruity, ways to change organizational culture, moral relativism and so forth. This paper assesses results of a survey about work experience, altruism, and leadership preparation from students at three universities, and proposes a capstone course for safety and engineering students to partially offset the noted missed opportunities.

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