This paper introduces the Professional Engineering Pathways Study (PEPS), a three-year study aimed at developing new understandings of early career engineering career preparedness and decision-making. The project takes a national perspective, drawing on data from six partner institutions across the U.S., and focuses specifically on engineering students' experiences, perceptions, and plans as they look toward their initial career steps. The project involves two critical elements. The research element uses a longitudinal, mixed-method approach to examine how engineering students explore, select, and prepare for their chosen careers. The community of practice element focuses on bridging research-to-practice by engaging administrators, faculty, and staff at the six partner institutions in data interpretation and dissemination activities. This research will help drive continuous improvement in engineering programs and universities. Preliminary results of the study will be presented at the conference.