Career Aspirations And Theories Of Career Development

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Chloe’s first memories of career aspirations were when she was young. She recalls that it started right before and during kindergarten, when she would stand up and sing in front of her peers. She loved to sing. Her father listens to country music and she remembers singing along to the radio anytime she could. She decided at that time, she wanted to be a country music singer. In order to work toward the possibility of that becoming a reality, she started to join extracurricular programs, such as choir, as soon as possible.

Chloe remembers that there was a time when she started to feel that she couldn’t be in front of people in that capacity and didn’t feel as if she would have the talent that it would take to become a career country singer.

Chloe then started wanting to do something in a field that would help animals. She spent quite a bit of time with her grandmother, who had a farm with several animals. Once she got her first puppy, the desire to work in a field with animals grew. At first, she wanted to become a veterinarian, it seemed like the only option to work with animals at the time.

Once she was in middle school, Chloe started to work with her grandmother at her job. Her grandmother has made her career teaching in the equestrian field. Chloe started helping out with the program that taught children how to ride and learned valuable lessons and developed a love for working in the equestrian field. She decided at that point that she would like to work with horses and teach lessons, just like her grandmother does.

This continued until the end of high school when she needed to decide on what she was going to go to college for. At this time, she remembers that it was difficult and that she needed to find something that would fit into the schools that she needed to go to. She needed to go to a community college because she participated in a program that worked with high school students that met certain requirements, in order to get their associate’s degree and only having to pay for books. She then went on to a university, she attended one particular university because her father works for that university and was able to get a discount for his dependents. Though her family did not have much money, she was able to get an education by finding ways such as this one, to go through school.

When starting college, Chloe struggled with picking what she wanted to study. She remembers that when she was applying to the community college she was trying to figure out what she should put as her degree. She had recently gained interest being a lawyer. She initially enrolled into the criminal justice program. Eventually, she graduated with her associate’s degree in general studies because she was still struggling with what she wanted to major in. Once she moved on to the university, she decided that she wanted to try to pursue a degree in nutrition and dietetics. She knew that she wanted to help people and she had struggled with making healthy decisions when she was younger and wanted to help others that may be struggling in the same way. She started taking the prerequisites for this degree, there were several science requirements, these were not her strong points. She also found out that in order to actually get into the program, it is extremely competitive. Her advisor stated that only 15 people are allowed in at a time. She knew that she could get good grades but possibly not good enough to stand out and make the cut.

She then ran into someone that she went to community college with, that person told her that she was getting her degree in social work. Chloe knew that she wanted to help people, she just wasn’t sure how. She started to reflect on the classes that she had taken before this point, the classes that held her interest the most and that she felt most passionate about, were those discussing psychology and sociology. She also remembered that in high school and junior high school, she was given tests to take that would tell us what career areas they would be best at, Chloe remembers that in all of them there was always a common theme. She always scored high in helping professions.

She decided to get her degree in social work, with the end goal being working with clients in a therapy setting.

She graduated with her bachelor’s degree in social work and planned to pursue her Master’s degree in Social work. She applied to the program twice and was denied. She was discouraged and wasn’t sure what she could do next. She wanted to pursue her master’s but didn’t know in what at this point.

She was working as a case manager in an agency that worked with children. Interacting with the children made her think about becoming a school counselor. She started to look into what that would mean and applied to the program at Stephens College. When she started the program and started taking classes, she realized that her true interest was still in individual counseling and she changed her schooling track in order to focus on this.

She also changed jobs to one that she thought would allow her to focus on school more than the case management job would.

Chloe also wanted to share that the decisions that were made up to this point in her career journey, were largely influenced by her parents. Her mother has her Master’s degree now, however, her journey took a while. She did not graduate college in her twenties but went back when Chloe was in sixth grade to finish her Bachelor’s degree. She went back to get her Master’s degree once Chloe started in her Master’s program. Her father graduated from high school and gained a Journeyman’s license as an electrician. He has been a significant influence in her education. He felt that she could do better and urged her to go to college. Her grandmother is an educator; therefore, her mother and grandmother are both advocates of higher education. There was really no other option for her but to go to college, she remembers not really being aware of any other options. She felt a great deal of support from her family in anything that she chooses to do, even now. However, upon reflection, she realizes that she didn’t have many options. Although, she has chosen what she wants to do and is happy with this decision, there were not many other options for her after high school.

One theory that matches closely with my client’s career development would be Donald Super’s Life Span Life Space theory. This theory focuses on career development being a lifelong process. This process is separated into stages that line up with developmental stages, in order to address the process in a more in-depth way. In the life span aspect of the theory, there are five stages that are addressed. The first stage is Growth, which addressed children, ages 4 through 13. In this stage, children curious about how the world works and are imaging the type of work they may want to do when they get older. When Chloe was in this age range, she was thinking about several different occupations that she might find interesting. She was just looking at occupation as something that she would like to do, not so much about the concrete details of it. At that time, she wanted to be a singer, a veterinarian or she wanted to work with animals in some capacity.

These were all things that she had observed and started to learn about, which is why they seemed to adjust as she moved to the later part of this stage. She moved from wanting to become a singer, once she realized that, realistically, this career choice may not be the one for her. She started moving more toward career choices that made sense with the types of environments that she was in. This moves her more into the next stage, Exploration which is in adolescence from ages 14 through 24. At this stage, Chloe was working with her grandmother at the stables and helping with the program that taught riding. She felt that she was good at the teaching aspect and she loved working with horses. It made sense to her to follow in her grandmother’s footsteps. The Exploration stage discusses crystallization and specifying preferences regarding the individual’s career. In the first portion of the stage, known as the crystallization stage, the individual uses information that they have learned about occupations and themselves in the first stage, to start to identify the type of work they may want to do. Chloe learned that she loved teaching and working with horses and this helped her to set a goal. The next portion is the specifying stage, where the individual chooses an occupation.

Chloe is still currently in the exploration stage. She moved within this stage through several decisions, based on the education she may need and her changing interests through her development. She is currently working toward an occupation by getting the necessary education for it.

The next stage is the Establishment stage, which is from age 25 through 45. In this stage the focus is on becoming stable and becoming dependable and then possibly advancing if that is what they would like to do. The terms used by Super are stabilizing, consolidating and advancing. Chloe touched on this stage briefly. She was going to work in the social work field after her bachelor’s degree. She began working in job that was in the field and made steps to further her education to advance in the field. However, when she wasn’t able to get into the educational program that she needed to, she decided that the current occupational level that she was on, did not fit her and she entered the Exploration stage again in order to determine her next steps. She did not move far away from her initial career but she did have to re-evaluate and ended up back in the Exploration Stage.

The next stage that Super addresses is the Maintenance stage, which occurs age 45 through age 65. This stage is focused on either advancing and updating the way the individual operates within their field or they go through the Exploration and Establishment stages again when finding a new occupation. The final stage that Super addresses is Disengagement. This stage focuses mostly on retirement planning. Chloe has not gotten to the final two stages in her career development at this point.

The Life Space aspect of the theory focuses on the combination of an individual’s home life and their work life. It discusses the amount of importance that work has in an individual’s life and how that may differ with each person. Super says that there are different roles that people hold. The roles that the individual identifies with will differ at different life stages. For Chloe, the roles that she held when she was younger were, student and daughter. As she got older, it changed to student, daughter and worker. At this time, she is a daughter, student, worker and wife. She continued to add roles, and the amount of time that she spent in each of the roles changed throughout her development.

Another piece of Super’s theory discusses self-concept, how individuals view themselves through the roles that they play and the societal elements that surround them. There are objective and subjective components in self-concepts. The objective component is how we understand ourselves through comparison to other people. The subjective component how we understand meaning of our own life experiences. Chloe’s self-concept seemed to be created mainly through her family and experiences that she had when she was around them. Specifically, her educational decisions.

There is an article that discusses existentialism and Super’s theory. Existentialism discusses an individual seeking meaning and purpose in their life. The article addresses how existentialism could influence both the developmental stages associated with career development as well as life roles. The concern is how someone would be affected during transitions in their career development and how they understand the meaning of their life through their life roles. The key points in this theory are that self-awareness will help an individual to evolve. The way individual view their experiences can be through their own subjective view or through the objective views of other. Transitioning from one developmental stage to another requires a combination social, biological and cultural views. The way in which someone sees themselves in the moment helps them to understand their life meaning and purpose.

This article seemed to fit with my client because she continues with a theme throughout her development. She wants to help people. She took a career assessment when she was young and it stated that she should work in a helping profession. She had already determined that she wanted to prior to taking the assessment, but it solidified this for her and she has been trying to work toward that ever since. Throughout the stages of her development, she held that theme for the most part. It varied a bit when she wanted to help animals, but not by much because she still wanted to help. The drive to help has helped her to maneuver through the developmental stages, even when she had to move back a stage, she still stayed within the same career area.

The recent theory that fits with my client is the Social Cognitive Career Theory. This theory is centered around an individual’s beliefs in their abilities and how that affects their career decision making process. How individuals view themselves and their ability to succeed in a career drives their decision to pursue that career.

This most certainly fits with Chloe and her career decision making process. She did not pursue becoming a lawyer because she did not think that she could make it through the schooling. She didn’t pursue the veterinary career because she didn’t feel that she could make it through the schooling, she also knew that she would not be emotionally capable of euthanizing an animal. She didn’t pursue a career in equine sciences because of external factors. Her grandmother discouraged her from pursuing a career like hers because it does not provide as well as she had thought or as well as she thought Chloe should work toward.

There is an article that addresses support of adolescents from their parents, it is from the perspective of the social cognitive career theory. The article is about a study that is done about how the support of an adolescent’s parents affect their career decision making. According to this study, the more that adolescents feel supported by their parents the more they feel comfortable with making goal and career related decisions.

When Chloe was in the beginning stages of her career decision making, she felt support in any decision she made regarding possible career options. She continues to feel support, and she remembers feeling like she could make the decision that she wanted to with their support. She didn’t feel pressure to pursue any certain career path.

This theory fits certain aspects of her development; however, it seems to leave out other factors. It focuses on the internal effects on an individual’s decision making, but doesn’t discuss as much about external factors, other than how they may influence her thoughts of herself.

In summary, at this time Chloe is still in the exploration stage of Super’s theory. She is working toward becoming a counselor. She is currently in a job that is not consistent with her future goals or her previous education. However, it is helping her to work toward her goal in that she is able to focus on her schooling because she has set hours and made the decision to change her job in order to do so.

She is has not moved into the establishment stage at this time but she is currently setting goals in order to do so. She is getting closer to the end of her Master’s program and beginning to think of the future. At this time, she is planning to work toward licensure after she graduates. She has some long-term goals that she mentioned but states that she is unsure of them at this time. She would like to work in the field for a while to gain experience and then possibly work toward a doctorate degree in order to become a professor. She is unsure of that at this time but has put some thought toward it.

Chloe filled out a career genogram and it showed that in her immediate family, her mother had her Master’s degree and her father has a Journeyman’s license and graduated from high school. The Genogram showed that her maternal grandmother also has her master’s degree, and maternal grandfather has an associate’s degree. Her paternal grandfather had a journeyman’s license and graduated from high school and her paternal grandmother had an associate’s degree. It is evident that on her maternal side, education is important. She also stated that her father felt strongly that she needed higher education and tried to keep her on that path as much as possible. Her family’s support and strong belief in her ability to obtain a higher education degree, fits within the social cognitive career theory because they instilled those thoughts and helped her to believe that she could work toward a master’s degree. This helped her to make the academic decisions in order to get to where she is in her development at this time.

She also took the career cluster inventory through Missouri Connections. The highest rated career cluster for her was in human services. This fits with the theme that she has continued with throughout her developmental stages. She has always wanted to help others and this result directly aligns with this goal.

Chloe is currently in the exploration stage with goals to move toward the establishment stage. She is currently trying to finish her education in order to begin her career as a counselor. It seems as though she may want to pursue some sort of teaching position as well. She would like to spend time in the counseling field, working with clients and helping. She also would like to help and educate future counselors at some point. She believes that the best way for her to do so is to also pursue her doctorate degree, most likely in counseling education. She would then want to become a professor in a graduate program. She has not come to a decision on this just yet as it has been difficult to balance work and school for her Master’s degree and it may not be possible to balance the two in a doctorate program. She is struggling to decide based on balancing her life roles and feeling as though she is giving each role the amount of time that she should, not to mention the fact that the roles may change by that time in her career. There are several factors for her to consider and at this time she has goals to move forward and is currently working toward these goals. 

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