Supporting student transitions via
the construction of ‘career’
Ricky Gee and Phil Mignot, School of
Social Sciences
What is ‘career’?
Central concept of the Level 3 Transition and Learning Skills module - BA
Youth Studies
Reflexive and theoretical exploration of the undergraduate ‘career’
Contemplation of anticipated ‘career’ trajectory
Many perspectives of ‘career’ explored - including broad approaches
incorporating social strands (Goffman 1961) and social roles (Super 1996)
Exploration of work ‘strand’ and/or ‘role’ yet not dominated by this
Module evokes a comprehension of how narrativisation
of ‘career’ occurs in time and space
A range of social theory utilised to inform narrative
Individual strategies of career navigation emerge –
loosening the ‘dogmatic image of thought’
All student extracts have gained willing consent
from the students for use
Reflexive contemplation of learning
“Before entering into the journey guided by my Transition
and Learning Skills module, I had never become conscious
of how my past experiences, roles, values and learning
had influenced my career trajectory as well as my
personal growth and identity. I have now become
conscious of how social, societal and organisational
factors have formed a relationship with how I act, think
and reflect upon my self-concept, narrative and identity.”
Student J
Fateful moments
“Shortly after starting the course I experienced my most
influential fateful moment, my eldest brother was
diagnosed with a severe mental health problem; I
immediately took a counsellor role and learnt everything
I could about his mental health problem. …Despite the
negativity of this fateful moment on my brother’s wellbeing, it was one which gave me clarification on an area
of previous uncertainty; I now knew that I wanted to help
young people with mental health problems.”
Student K
Contemplation of future trajectory
“I wish to specialise in cognitive behaviour therapy
to help young people and young offenders establish
and overcome issues with mental health. I can
combine my own experiences, my traits and skills,
and desire to help others in a role which I will find
challenging and fulfilling. Following my completion
of the youth studies degree I will continue onto a
psychology course which will enable me into the
field of work I aspire to.”
Student K
Looking forward – more than
“…the philosophical way of considering varied
dimensions has become prominent within my
learning particularly on this module. Consequently,
further reading after the course will be utilised as
an ‘interest’ rather than a ‘chore’ as theory
becomes much more understandable and
resourceful when used in practice.”
Student L
Personalisation as opposed to calibration
Exploration of CDT allows students time and space to utilise theory to
contemplate career narrative.
Such stories become coloured, textual, nuanced yet coherent.
They acknowledge the knowledge, skills and attitudes required for
employment whilst also allowing an understanding of personal development
to ensue.
Employability becomes placed within the narrative as opposed to the focal
point of the narrative.
Theory in this room
Savickas’ Life-Theme approach to ‘career’:
‘People organize their lives around a problem that
preoccupies them and a solution that occupies
them.’ (Savickas, 1995, p.195)
According to Savickas (ibid), solutions to a
preoccupying problem can be objectified and
portrayed in the form of role models
Establishing a Life-theme:
1. Identify something that preoccupies you – this
can be achieved by identifying some of your key
2. Identify the ways in which your interests occupy
your time
3. Identify the presence and influence of role
models that have helped you to pursue your
For example….
‘I’m interested in people’
Preoccupation: ‘I want to make a difference to
people’s lives’
‘I’m raising funds for our World
Challenge project’
Role Models: ‘My geography teacher told us
stories about her VSO’
Goffman (1961) Asylums , Essays on the Social Situation of Mental Patients
and Other inmates
Savickas, M.L. (1995a). Examining the personal meaning of inventoried
interests during career counselling, Journal of Career Assessment, Vol 3, No.2,
Super, D (1996) Life career roles: self-realization in work and leisure. In D. T.
Hall and Associates, career development in Organizations, San Francisco,
Jossey Brass, pp. 95-119

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