Assisting Students in Career Exploration
Career development is one of the three domains that have been identified by the American School Counselor Association (ASCA) National School Counselor Standards. The goals include acquiring the skills to investigate the world of work; employing the strategies to achieve future career success; and understanding the relationship among personal qualities, education and training, and the world of work (ASCA, 2005). Understanding where students are in their career development is critical to helping them reach these goals. Super (1990) theorized that high school students are in the career exploration stage of career development. They are reviewing occupational preferences as well as making some preliminary
decisions about careers as they look into potential college majors. What influences these career choices is important for counselors to know because they can then direct counseling experiences to facilitate and optimize students’ decision making and exposure. Social Cognitive Career Theory (SCCT; Lent, Brown, & Hackett, 1994) suggests that career choice is influenced by outcome expectancies, career interests, and career self-efficacy; Bandura (1986) theorized that self-efficacy is determined by persons’ judgment about how well they can complete a task. Moreover, career self-efficacy is influenced both by individual variants (e.g., predispositions, gender, race/ethnicity, health status) and by contextual factors such as family background and learning experiences. Tang, Wei, and Newmeyer (2008) studied the factors that impact career choices. They found that learning experiences significantly influence one’s self-efficacy, which then influences one’s career interests and choices. Another interesting finding of this study is the strong, direct impact of career self-efficacy on career choices in the area of People/Ideas (as measured from Holland’s Self-Directed Search, or SDS). It seems that high school students’ confidence in occupations involving people’s interaction and ideas very possibly leads them to choose such occupations. Learning experiences have a greater influence on the development of career self-efficacy for female students than for male students. The common theme for both males and females is the strong role of self-efficacy when they choose occupations that are nontraditional for their gender.