Original Date: 07/25/2005
Revision Date: 09/12/2006
Best Practice : New Graduate Professional Development Program
The New Graduate Professional Development Program at Northrop Grumman Electronic Systems can be considered the benchmark for employees who are serious about beginning their own development program or are seeking career growth. Starting with the recruiting process that includes extensive interviewing to qualify the applicants, training and education, and volunteer programs that teach valuable leadership skills, to completion of the program and transition into their careers, participating employees gain excellent leadership skills.
The New Graduate Professional Development Program (PDP) at Northrop Grumman Electronic Systems (NGES) is one of the most advanced and interactive rotational assignment programs in the aerospace industry for new graduate engineers entering the workforce. This program was redesigned from long-standing programs by leaders with experience in academia and industry and a clear vision of the needs of the aerospace industry, their company, and the engineering and managerial requirements of the future. The New Graduate PDP has developed into a program where newly hired graduates become self-directed leaders with the skills and experience to become NGES’ new leaders.
The goals of the New Graduate PDP are achieved by providing administrative management support, mentoring, training, and career counseling and by giving participants the opportunity to experience and exercise as much autonomy as possible. Participants become actively engaged in running different facets of the program such as choices of rotational assignments at this and other NGES facilities across the country, participating in volunteer activities that facilitate peer networking and mentoring programs, team building, and project management skills.
Several essential components of the New Graduate PDP are mandatory and others are recommended. Mandatory training consists of legal, quality, technical, and safety training processes. Additional technical training can be recommended by the participant’s assignment supervisor and may include tools training. Rotational assignment opportunities in engineering include hardware, software, systems, test design, manufacturing, and industrial and program support as well as business management, postal and biohazard, proposals, and flight test.
The New Graduate PDP staff provides the following essential oversight to guide participants through the18-month program: Administrative support
Developing and documenting program processes and initiatives
Training, formal education, and career counseling
Developing and determining mandatory training requirements
Managing and administering an engineering and manufacturing (E&M) merit plan
Oversight for all E&M-sanctioned volunteer activities
Managing E&M PDP budgets
Participation in recruiting activities
Working closely with NGES functional departments and other organizational personnel (e.g., HR, Business)
Another essential component of the New Graduate PDP is the Navigator Program, which has been more successful than anticipated. The Navigator Program is a peer mentoring (buddy) system that was developed, implemented, and conducted by PDP participant volunteers. Navigators are assigned to new graduates during their first week to meet and tour the work environment. Checklists are used to ensure that orientation tasks and milestones are completed. The process is documented, and appraisals are required after each rotational assignment for a total of 4 to 5 appraisals during the 18-month program. Navigator team leaders conduct E&M briefings for the new graduates. Volunteer initiatives comprise a large, almost transparent component of the E&M New Graduate PDP, are both internal and external, and teach essential leadership skills.
NGES’ New Graduate PDP is a benchmark program that offers participants a smooth transition from academia to a career of leadership opportunities that may otherwise have been unrealized.
For more information see the
Point of Contact for this survey.