Modern challenges of engineering education in Russia focuses the key role of today’s graduate students and novice teachers in the education processes. The effectiveness of training a new type of engineers - engineers of the XXI century will depend on their professionalism and motivation. The article is devoted to the actual topic of the study of the state and dynamics of professional motivation of modern graduate students of technical specialties and their impact on the effectiveness of educational activities. The paper proposed the author’s view, involving the analysis of the main activities or role positions of graduate students, as novice specialists of higher education, who should be both engineers, researchers and educators. Based on the analysis of the results of the survey of graduate students, it is shown that the priority and needs of the considered role positions of specialists of a technical university are determined depending on the situation of the current life stage. Despite the fact that professional roles are closely interrelated, each is due to its own specific implementation and requires a specialist different sets of competencies and in different degrees affects the effectiveness of the educational process. Each specialist, due to natural inclinations, prefers any one of the roles. According to the author, teachers should be represented in the educational process, having different priorities, paying more attention to one of the roles, which contributes to the full, versatile and effective training of a modern engineer.