A study of taiwanese adolescents’ career purpose development process

Yu Chen Wang*, Ching Tseng, Chih Huai Chen, Ming Yan Jian, Xsin Yi Lin

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

Career purpose is a feeling of fulfillment and satisfaction emerging from the process during when individuals implement and practice their ideas of future career that may bring meaning and social contributions based on one’s unique interests, personal characteristics, abilities, and other meaning (Damon, 2008). A sense of purpose benefits life satisfaction, sense of meaning, hope, and positive emotions of adolescents. Career purpose also fosters positive feelings and feedback that are important sources for the development of self-concept of adolescents. The topic of career purpose is significant to career exploration of the youth as well as to school counseling and guidance practice, yet related studies are insufficient in Taiwan. Hence, the present study examined the impact factors and development of career purpose in Taiwanese adolescents. The study aimed to explore the impact of adolescents’ career purpose, the development of their career purpose, and their change experience. The participants in the present study were from the 152 adolescent participants in Wang’s study (2018) on the career purpose experience of the youth. The interviews at two points in time were conducted respectively with the ones who had goals for the future with firm plans and began to take action to be the participants for the present study. Thirty-one participants attended the Time-1 interview, and they were 12 boys and 19 girls, comprising 13 seventh graders, 10 eighth graders, and 8 ninth graders. Two years later, 21 participants, 7 boys and 14 girls, attended the Time-2 interview. The other ten participants dropped out the study or were lost after they graduated from junior high school or for personal reasons. Four research questions were addressed in the study: (1) What were the feeling and experience of the adolescents with career purpose? (2) What was the impact factor of the career purpose development for adolescents? (3) What was the change experience of adolescents’ career purpose two years later? (4) What was the overall development of career purpose? Qualitative research was carried out through individual semi-structured interviews at two points in time to collect data and the authors designed interview guides for the two interviews based on the study purpose. The interview at Time 2 was held two years after the interview at Time 1. All Time-2 interviews were conducted in school counseling rooms. The participants of 9th graders were contacted via their schools for the intentions and arrangements to attend the interview. For those who had graduated from junior high school, they were contacted via e-mail and phones for further information regarding their updated status. Interviews with the participants of junior high school graduates were conducted in the counseling rooms in their new schools with their schools’ permission. The Time-1 and Time-2 interviews were held during the participants’ lunch break or school free time in two to three successive weeks; each interview session lasted between 70 to 90 minutes. The data collected from the interviews at two points in time were analyzed with the grounded theory method (Strauss & Corbin, 1998). The results of this study reported the following findings: (1) The influences of career purpose on these participants are that they perceive career purpose as a part of life, accompanied with satisfaction, happiness, a sense of achievement, exploration and action, and career goals developing and establishing. (2) The development of career purpose is inducted into establishment factors of career purpose and change factors of career purpose. The former includes external environment factors and self-inner factors. External environment factors refer to the people and growth experience that influence adolescents’ career purpose and they are the influences of family, school, and role models. Self-inner factors comprised five elements which are passions and interests that trigger inner motivation; feedback from senses of achievement and meaning that foster further career development; evaluations and confirmation of self and environment; displaying strengths which lead to more confidence and action; and career concerns and thoughts that promote the pursuit and establishment of career purpose. On the other hand, impact factors of career purpose development include reality and growth, accidents and chances, and objections or oppositions from family. (3) Based on the data of 21 participants collected at the Time-2 interview, change experience merged during career purpose developing of two year is inducted into stability and unchanged and re-exploration. A total of nine participants stated their career purpose did not change during these two years. They firmly showed great enthusiasm for their primary career purpose and took vigorous action to pursue their goals. The other 12 participants reported in the Time-2 interview that they dropped their primary goal temporarily. Another steps that they took for their career purpose pursuing could be divided into three types: some re-explored their careers because their pursuit of primary career purpose was hindered; some transformed their careers without core career purpose remaining; and some found more suitable career purpose and changed their goals. (4) The development of career purpose are in five stages—involvement and initiation, action and feedback, concern and evaluation, initial commitment, and firm commitment/multi-development. This study further proposes a dynamic process model of career purpose development. The study concludes that career purpose embedded with varied development stages and impact factors is significant for adolescents during their career development. Under the influences of family, school, individuals, reality and growth and chances, the development of career purpose is an ongoing and non-stop process. The dynamic process model of career purpose development illustrates the whole process individuals go through during their career purpose development. Initially, individuals’ interests are generated after the individuals experience and get involved with some event occasionally. The following is the stage of action and feedback consisting of three parts—opportunity activity, action, and positive feedback that are presented in a cycle. The next stage is about concern and evaluation of self and environment. Individuals further evaluate whether they will carry out their career purpose as future goals. After the two-year’s development, some participants still stuck to their career purpose steadily and continued to head to their goals which led to a firm commitment. These participants persisted in brushing up on their knowledge and skills, heading to their goals during the process of their career purpose development. Some participants changed their career purpose or career options after confronting disapproval and disagreement from other people. Some other participants experienced a circular process, and experienced all the steps forward, backward, and forward again during the whole career exploration. Throughout the whole dynamic process of career purpose development, individuals may be under the influences of external environmental factors, internal personal factors, and reality and accident factors. School counselors are suggested to adopt different counseling strategies to assist adolescents in exploring and determining future direction. Moreover, the transition of different stages of adolescents may vary from time to time, the development of career purpose and change experience worth further investigation. A suggestion for a further investigation is to examine senior high school students’ career development after they enter college via follow-up studies. Another suggestion is to explore the change experience of college graduates who just enter workplace to look into their career purpose development after graduating from school. Narrative research is an alternative method to probe how relevant events and topics merge from the process of the development of career purpose in adolescents and how these events and topics are generated and prospered into unique narrative experiences of career purpose development.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)263-286
Number of pages24
JournalBulletin of Educational Psychology
Volume52
Issue number2
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 2020

Keywords

  • Adolescents
  • Career development
  • Career development process
  • Career purpose

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Education
  • Developmental and Educational Psychology

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