Choosing one’s career is a process that occurs throughout one’s life, and involves selecting among various employment opportunities that present themselves along the way. Every person going through that process is influenced by several different factors, including the context in which they live, their personal abilities, and the degree of educational completion that they are able to attain (Factors Influencing Career Choices of Adolescents and Young Adults in Rural Pennsylvania, 2006.) This paper will discuss some of the variables that play a role in making decisions about choosing careers.
When students are in high school, one of the major transitions they often make involves deciding to pursue a certain career. Often, this decision is seen by family members and the community as a whole as only a beginning to the development of workplace readiness. In any event, these choices play a significant part in steering young people into career paths that either open up opportunities or close the door on others. A study conducted in Central Pennsylvania focused on 98 high school seniors, 50 graduating college seniors, and 24 young adults who were already employed. The participants were interviewed regarding their career goals, their influences on those choices, and the obstacles to reaching their goals. Many themes emerged from the research which identified areas that could potentially be addressed by various stakeholders who are interested in helping young people make career choices.
It was found that factors including the family, school, and community play a tremendous role on the identity formation of young people, and also influence their career choices. Those three elements were all factors in the self-concept of young people, their academic success, and their vocational aptitudes and interests. In particular, it was found that parents played an undeniably important role in shaping career choices of their children (Factors Influencing Career Choices of Adolescents and Young Adults in Rural Pennsylvania, 2006.) Because parents convey to their children their expectations about educational success and advancement as well as their perceptions of the appropriateness of certain occupations, they represented a crucial role in helping their children develop preferences for their job goals. In addition, it was discovered that the schools attended by students as well as the community environment in which they live also plays a part in either supporting or putting off making career decisions, so that clearly the nature of a student’s experience in school as well as his or her connections to and within the community also are important factors in the formation of identity and pursuit of career goals. Students who had little or no support from parents, teachers, or their communities had great difficulty either establishing their career goals, or pursuing them, or both.
At times, it is difficult for students to discover and identify their interests, and to understand how those interests might translate into a career or profession. That is why it is so important for guidance to be provided that will assist them in narrowing down their interests and understanding how they may use those talents or preferences in a job setting. For example, a student who has talent in drawing may have no idea about how that skill can be utilized into a career, but professionals at school, in the community, or support at home may help steer that student into one of many careers that involve art including graphic arts, illustrating, teaching art, or many other options. With the proper level of guidance and support, in an ideal situation a person finds a career that is both enjoyable, utilizes one’s talents, and compensates a person for doing what he or she loves best.
In addition, many students and young adults recognize that there are certain barriers that may exist regarding their career choices, such as financial demands to pursue their professional paths. Lack of opportunities for financial assistance, part-time jobs, and lack of knowledge about grants and scholarships may prevent students from believing that they can achieve their career goals, but again, parents as well as adults in schools and the community can help young people explore options to overcome these problems. Choosing and achieving a career path is a vital part of human development, and is largely dependent on the amount of support and guidance provided by family, school, and community.
- Factors Influencing Career Choices of Adolescents and Young Adults in Rural Pennsylvania. (2006, June). Retrieved from Journal of Extension: http://www.joe.org/joe/2006june/rb7.php