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The experience of making a career decision in young adulthood Breuer, Karin 1991

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THE EXPERIENCE OF MAKING A CAREER DECISION IN YOUNG ADULTHOOD by Karin Breuer Ed., 1967, University of B r i t i s h Columbia Thesis Submitted i n P a r t i a l F u l f i l l m e n t of the Requirements for the Degree of MASTER OF ARTS in The Faculty of Graduate Studies Department of Counselling Psychology We accept t h i s thesis as conforming to the reguired standard UNIVERSITY OF BRITISH COLUMBIA © September 1991 In presenting this thesis in partial fulfilment of the requirements for an advanced degree at the University of British Columbia, I agree that the Library shall make it freely available for reference and study. I further agree that permission for extensive copying of this thesis for scholarly purposes may be granted by the head of my department or by his or her representatives. It is understood that copying or publication of this thesis for financial gain shall not be allowed without my written permission. Department The University of British Columbia Vancouver, Canada DE-6 (2/88) ABSTRACT This study was designed to examine how young adults frame the experience of making a career decision. Eight persons between the ages of 18 and 25 years, who were enrolled i n a post secondary program which on completion could lead d i r e c t l y into an occupation, volunteered to take part i n the study. Participants completed a b r i e f demographic questionnaire and were interviewed twice. The narratives were transcribed and then analyzed using a phenomenological method (Giorgi, 1975; Gurwitsch, 1968). Independent elements of the s t o r i e s , c a l l e d meaning units (Giorgi, 1975), were i d e n t i f i e d and sorted into 4 0 theme clust e r s that r e f l e c t e d the young adults* experience of making career decisions. The theme cl u s t e r s were collapsed into 11 categories representing the noematic nucleus (Gurwitsch, 1968), which lead to the structure of the experience: the r e l a t i o n s h i p of s e l f i n deciding, v o l i t i o n , the experience of high school, outside influences, the r o l e of family, applying to a program, feelings about being accepted, observation about others, s e l f - t a l k , other i i i decisions, and thoughts about the future. The narratives were then re-read and two questions were asked: "What does t h i s statement t e l l us about the experience?" and "How i s the statement framed?". I t was found that young adults respond to personal stimulus that activates the career decision process. Application to a post secondary program was seen as synonymous with commitment to a career path. The anxiety of waiting, was followed by a f e e l i n g of freedom and empowerment when the i n d i v i d u a l had been accepted to the program of choice. The experience was marked by strong emotions, self-knowledge, and a stated as well as t a c i t understanding of the environmental factors that influenced the decision. The study i l l u s t r a t e s the need for p r a c t i t i o n e r s to examine t h e i r modes of, as well as t h e i r expected outcomes fo r career counselling. The young adults interviewed expressed varying l e v e l s of d i s s a t i s f a c t i o n with the career counselling they received i n school. They were a r t i c u l a t e about what might have helped them and tended to believe that d r i f t i n g into a career was equally v a l i d as making a career choice. i v T A B L E O F C O N T E N T S ABSTRACT i i ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS v i i CHAPTER I THE PROBLEM 1 Purpose 6 Defi n i t i o n s 8 Significance of the Research 12 Changing Trends 13 Knowledge Extended 13 CHAPTER II THEORETICAL BACKGROUND 15 Decision Making Models 16 Career Decision Theories 2 0 Developmental and Identity Theories . . . 20 Social Learning Theories and Soci o l o g i c a l Influence 23 Ecologi c a l Perspective 25 Summary 2 6 CHAPTER III METHOD 28 P i l o t Study 28 P r i n c i p a l Study 3 2 Participants 3 2 Demographic Information 3 2 Programs and I n s t i t u t i o n s 34 Procedures 3 6 Sampling 3 6 The Interviews 3 7 Interview guestion schedule. . 3 9 Interview methods 40 Location of interview 41 Length of interview 41 Establishing rapport 42 Protocol 42 Recording of data 4 3 Analysis and Interpretation . . . . 43 Description of phenomenology. . 4 3 Phenomenological analysis . . . 46 Summaries 5 0 R e l i a b i l i t y and V a l i d i t y 52 Limitations 55 V Assumptions 57 E t h i c a l Considerations 59 Summary 60 CHAPTER IV FINDINGS 61 The Role of the Interviewer 61 Theme Clusters and Categories 65 D e f i n i t i o n of Theme Clusters and Categories 65 An Examination of the Categories and Theme Clusters 68 The Relationship of Self to the Decision 68 V o l i t i o n 81 Pressures Exerted by School, Peers, Parents and Others 84 The Experience of Applying and Being Accepted 98 Self Talk, Other Decisions, Observations about Others and Thoughts about the Future . . . 106 Summary 119 CHAPTER V DISCUSSION 12 4 Dialogue 124 Personal Dialogue 124 Dialogue with the Theories 127 Decision Theories 127 Career Development Theory 13 0 Social Learning Theories and Soc i o l o g i c a l Influence . . . . 135 Refle c t i o n 137 Implications for Further Research 149 Questions that Arise from t h i s Research . 151 Implications for Practice 154 CONCLUSION 157 BIBLIOGRAPHY 159 APPENDIX I 169 LETTER OF INTRODUCTION 169 APPENDIX II 171 UNIVERSITY OF BRITISH COLUMBIA PARTICIPANT INFORMED CONSENT FORM 171 v i APPENDIX III 174 PRELIMINARY QUESTIONNAIRE 174 APPENDIX IV 178 DEMOGRAPHIC INFORMATION 178 APPENDIX V 181 INTERVIEW SCHEDULE 181 APPENDIX VI 185 CATEGORIES AND INDEX HEADINGS 185 APPENDIX VII 191 THEMES FROM THE QUESTIONS 191 APPENDIX VIII 194 DESCRIPTION OF THE QUESTION-ANSWER ANALYSIS . 194 APPENDIX IX 198 CHRONOLOGY, REFLEXIVITY AND REFLECTION . . . 198 APPENDIX X 212 SUMMARY OF THE PROTOCOLS AS READ TO THE NARRATORS AND DISCUSSED IN THE SECOND INTERVIEW 212 Joyce 212 Mary 217 Surinder 223 Wayne 228 James 233 B i l l 239 Susan 246 Janice 252 ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS I would l i k e to thank the par t i c i p a n t s of t h i s study for t h e i r time and willingness to share t h e i r experiences of making t h e i r career decision; my husband, my family and my f r i e n d Joan who were t i r e l e s s i n t h e i r support of me and helped me i n so many p r a c t i c a l ways and Dr. Young whose professional support and in t e r e s t i n t h i s work has been an example to me. In memory of my father who gave me the courage to become anything that I wanted to become. 1 CHAPTER I THE PROBLEM In the past much of the B r i t i s h Columbia school counsellor's task has been devoted to educational planning and career counselling. The Royal Commission on Education, 1988, stated that t h i s was an important, and possibly the major task of school counsellors; the new School Act appears to have enshrined that task as part of the educational services provided by the schools. However, no d i r e c t i o n i s given i n either the Royal Commission or the new School Act on how to f u l f i l that mandate. My own experience as a secondary school counsellor suggests that career guidance i n B r i t i s h Columbia r e l i e s largely on vocational developmental theories and the use of t r a i t and factor and computerized guidance a c t i v i t i e s . Vocational developmental t h e o r i s t s such as Hoyt, Evans, Magnum, Bowen and Gale (1977) believe that career decision making i s enhanced when educational opportunities to explore careers are linked to school c u r r i c u l a . The coupling of t r a i t and factor theories (Holland, 197 3) to vocational development theories (Super, 1953) provided school counsellors with a wide 2 v a r i e t y of a c t i v i t i e s f or career guidance programs such as i n t e r e s t inventories, temperament inventories, t r a i t and factor matching a c t i v i t i e s as for example Holland's (1973) personality inventory, and so on. These a c t i v i t i e s met some of the objectives of career education while at the same time seemed to s a t i s f y some of the adolescent developmental tasks including the formation of work-related attitudes and values, r e a l i t y t e s t i n g of s e l f to various vocational r o l e models, and the exploration of work related i n t e r e s t s (Pietrofesa & Splete, 1975; Schein, 1978). In speaking with young adults, I have, however, found that they frequently do not r e l a t e the guidance that they received i n schools to the career decisions that they make. There i s also l i t t l e i n the way of research to suggest that i n d i v i d u a l s make career decisions based on decision making models or i n t e r e s t and aptitude inventories. On the contrary, inventories often lead to confusion because students attempt to match t h e i r image of themselves with t h e i r image of a career. Their career image i s often stereotyped (Schein, 1978) and seen i n terms of l i f e - s t y l e (Gottfredson, 1981) rather than i n the r e a l i s t i c task 3 descriptions used by the authors of programs such as CHOICES (1982). Furthermore, methods that are based on matching t r a i t s and factors of occupations with persons (Holland, 1973), do not acknowledge the influence of family i n vocational development (Rosen, 1959; Sewell & Shaw, 1968; Young, Friesen, & Pearson, 1988) and assume that people make major l i f e decisions i n a r a t i o n a l and predictable manner (Janis & Mann, 1977; Morris, 1977). Sloan's (1986) long term research project on decision process demonstrated that people often do not make obviously r a t i o n a l choices i n major l i f e decisions and he seriously c a l l s into guestion the use of t r a i t and factor methods e s p e c i a l l y i n the form of computerized counselling programs. I f the methods that are currently being used by school counsellors are c a l l e d into guestion, there i s need to consider a l t e r n a t i v e approaches. A review of decision making l i t e r a t u r e revealed f i v e major strands of research: f i r s t , models of decision making (Janis & Mann, 1977; Morris, 1977; Simon, 1983; White, 1970) which attempt to i d e n t i f y the factors and actions leading to a decision and to chart these; second, cognitive dissonance theory (Festinger, 4 1957) which suggests that we are driven to decide when le v e l s of discomfort i n a s i t u a t i o n lead us to make a choice; t h i r d , decision making with l i m i t e d choices (Messick & B r a y f i e l d , 1964) which are generally more "laboratory" type choices lacking the m u l t i p l i c i t y of options that are faced i n major l i f e decisions; four, decision making with l i m i t e d knowledge (Kmietowicz, 1981; K r o l l , Dinklage, Morley & Wilson, 1970; Simon, 1983) which look at the complexity of factors i n major decisions; and f i f t h , self-deception i n decision making (Sloan, 198 6) a r e l a t i v e l y new concept, that acknowledges the psychological defense mechanisms and blocks that often prevent indiv i d u a l s from understanding the r e a l reasons for t h e i r actions. Research s p e c i f i c to career decision making can be broken down into p r i n c i p a l strands of thought. Descriptive models of vocational behaviour (Dudley & Tiedeman, 1977; Walsh & Osipow, 1988) describe the process of making a career decision. P r e s c r i p t i v e models (Holland, 1973; Hoyt, 1977) attempt to "prescribe" how individ u a l s can make the correct choice. Developmental theories ( K r o l l , 1970; Pietrofesa & Splete, 1975; Super, 1957; Tinsley & 5 Tinsley, 1988) i d e n t i f y the stages of vocational development beginning with childhood and continuing through to old age. F i n a l l y i n d i v i d u a l and s i t u a t i o n a l differences i n vocational decision making (Dodge & Swan, 1971; Harren, 1979; Mortimer, Lorence & Kumka, 1986; Stephan & Corder, 1985; T i t t l e , 1981; Wilks, 1986) consider such things as the influence of age, gender, ethnic background and s p e c i f i c s i t u a t i o n s (as for example, a v a i l a b i l i t y of education or vocational options) when individ u a l s make career choices. I t appears that decision making has been studied i n terms of process and factors, developmental and s i t u a t i o n a l differences, but not i n terms of experience, with the exception of Sloan (1987). Sloan's (1987) study suggests that the r e a l i t i e s of i n d i v i d u a l decisions may not always be explained i n t h e o r e t i c a l terms. Major l i f e decisions appear to be comprised of past, present and future. They are made within a m u l t i p l i c i t y of roles that each i n d i v i d u a l plays and occur as part of a number of simultaneous decisions which are made with varying amounts of knowledge, varying l e v e l s of predictable outcomes and varying degrees of self-awareness. 6 In view of the mandate given to B r i t i s h Columbia school counsellors (Minister of Education, 1990) and i n view that vocational guidance i n schools r e l i e s heavily on computerized a c t i v i t i e s , i t i s time to consider the experience of making an occupational decision from the young adults' perspective. By returning to the source, the decision maker, we may begin to understand what such a decision means to a young person and how we as school counsellors might e f f e c t i v e l y a s s i s t the student i n educational and career planning. Purpose The aim of t h i s study i s to consider career decision making i n early adulthood i n terms of the decision maker's experience. The purpose i s to discover what commitment to an educational program that can lead into an occupation means for the young adult. The main guestion that i s answered by t h i s study i s : How do young adults describe (frame) t h e i r experience of making a career decision? Within that guestions l i e a number of other key guestions. 1. Process and Influence a. How did the person make his/her 7 career choice over alternate options? b. What p r i o r experiences, situations, people, and so on, contributed to the choice? 2. A f f e c t i v e Aspects of Experience a. What feelings surround such a major l i f e decision? b. How does the in d i v i d u a l account for these feelings? 3. Cognitive Aspects of Experience How are past, present and future perceived and described by the in d i v i d u a l i n terms of the decision? 4. Comparisons a. How s i m i l a r / d i f f e r e n t are the a f f e c t i v e or cognitive aspects of the experiences of young adult career decision makers? b. What aspects of the experiences appear to be unique for in d i v i d u a l career decision makers? To discover the meaning of the commitment and to answer the question posed by t h i s research, a phenomenological method was chosen. 8 Def i n i t i o n s This section defines the terms used i n the study and discusses the guiding p r i n c i p l e s used by me i n thinking about the data. Career decision makers have been l i m i t e d to young adults l i v i n g i n the greater Vancouver area, who have for the f i r s t time made a commitment to, and are enroled i n , a career program at a community college, u n i v e r s i t y , vocational or technical i n s t i t u t e , which upon completion could lead to an entry occupation i n the area of study. Commitment to a course of studies for t h i s research means making a decision for an occupation. This c r i t e r i o n conforms to Schein (1978) as one of the stages and tasks of a career cycle; the step of obtaining appropriate education i n or t r a i n i n g f o r a career p r i o r to entering paid work. I t also conforms to Ginzberg, Ginsburg, Axelrad and Hernia's (1951) stage of " s p e c i f i c a t i o n " , the l a s t of three developmental stages, that i s characterized by a willingness to s p e c i a l i z e and confine to a r e l a t i v e l y narrow f i e l d of work. The study uses Linschoten 1s (1968) d e f i n i t i o n of experience, that i s , a personal act of consciousness. 9 Linschoten (1968) describes f i v e c h a r a c t e r i s t i c s of experience, that can be summarized as follows: 1. experience i s personal and conforms to personal consciousness, and 2. i t constantly changes i n consciousness, 3. personal consciousness i s experienced as a continuous stream, 4. we think i n terms of independent thoughts rather than a stream, and 5. thoughts are selected from the stream so that some things are excluded when we think about experience. The d e f i n i t i o n implies that our experiences are f l u i d and that a l l our impressions are coloured by our own h i s t o r y of experiences. However, we describe experience i n terms of independent thoughts by way of sensory perceptions (I f e e l , I saw, I heard, e t c . ) . These perceptions or sensations are not representations of the r e a l things, but selected presentations which are constructs of i n d i v i d u a l r e a l i t y (Linschoten, 1968). I t i s t h i s r e a l i t y that i s verbalized i n narration and constitutes the building blocks f o r understanding the experience. The word "frame" i n t h i s study follows Turner and Bruner 1s (1986) d e f i n i t i o n as the " a r b i t r a r y construction of beginnings and endings" (p.7) which constructs l i m i t s to the experience; and Linschoten's (1968) d e f i n i t i o n of "margin" as forming "the context for the 'theme1" (p.161). Relating that d e f i n i t i o n to Linschoten's (1968) concept of experience as a stream, the frame then l i f t s from the stream that which i t perceives to be important and separates the experience into units that have i d e n t i f i a b l e beginnings and endings and gives "causative s i g n i f i c a n c e " (Linschoten, 1968, p.161) to the experience. How the p a r t i c i p a n t s of t h i s study "frame" t h e i r experience of career decision making means which sensory perceptions they choose to l i f t from that continuous stream and ve r b a l i z e . I t includes the time space coordinates and descriptions (of s e l f and others, the programs and future dreams and goals and so on). The margin or frame i s "causative" not i n the sense that i t makes the event happen, but that i t imbues an experience with personal meaning and becomes a part of the h i s t o r y of a person. The concept which guided my thinking i n the analysis of the data follows Gurwitsch's (1964) descr i p t i o n of noema, perceptual noema and central noematic nucleus (or noematic nucleus). Gurwitsch's (1964) use of the term noema i s i n c l u s i v e and permits us to understand that experience has multiple presentations. The perceptual noema i s defined by Gurwitsch (1964) as the way that something presents i t s e l f to the beholder. For example, i f two people are witnessing the same accident, t h e i r s t o r i e s of the accident w i l l contain differences i n perception. Perceptual noema re l a t e s to Linschoten 1s (1968) f i f t h c h a r a c t e r i s t i c of experience — the perceived sensation including only those aspects which enable the in d i v i d u a l to understand his/her experience. Noema i s a l l the possible ways that the experience might have been perceived or spoken about. The central noematic nucleus, or noematic nucleus, (Gurwitsch, 1964) i s the experience reduced to i t s fundamental structure, devoid of presentation. For example, when during successive interviews, young adults spoke about receiving valuable help from school counsellors, not wanting help from school counsellors, 12 or re c e i v i n g no help from school counsellors, the noematic nucleus of the experience was "help from school counsellors". In using the concept of the noema, Gurwitsch (19 64) c l e a r l y demonstrates phenomenological reduction, the p r i n c i p l e which underpins the examination of the narratives i n order to a r r i v e at the meaning of the experience. Significance of the Research The purpose of s o c i a l research i s to do one of three things: to c l a s s i f y , to explain or to understand. I t i s designed to be exploratory, to be cross-sectional or to survey (Sanders & Pinhey, 1983). The present study was designed to be exploratory and i s directed to the task of understanding. While a vari e t y of methods were av a i l a b l e to me for the c o l l e c t i o n and int e r p r e t a t i o n of data, descriptive phenomenology which seeks "to describe the schemata or themes that constitute experience" (Polkinghorne, 1983, p.213) was chosen as the method most appropriate to the understanding of human action e s p e c i a l l y i n matters concerning choice among a vari e t y of a l t e r n a t i v e s . 13 Changing Trends The value of t h i s study l i e s i n our learning to understand the experience of career decision making from the perspective of young men and women who have made such a decision for the f i r s t time. By entering into dialogue with young people who have j u s t committed to an occupation, we can r e f l e c t upon the s i g n i f i c a n c e that the experience has for young adults. Shulman (1984) states that a shared understanding of an experience frees the c l i e n t to assume r e s p o n s i b i l i t y of what i s h e l p f u l i n a counselling r e l a t i o n s h i p . Thus i f we are to be more h e l p f u l i n career counselling, we need to f i r s t share the young adult's experience of committing to a career program i n a culture that i s r a p i d l y redefining occupations by means of technological change. Knowledge Extended Research should not only v e r i f y or guestion what i s already known, but add information to the t o t a l body of knowledge i n some manner. This study meets that goal. I t questions what i s known on the basis that impersonal instruments of measurement cannot measure 14 the meaning of career decision making, because "each of us has access only to our own realm of meaning" (Polkinghorne, 1988, p.8). I t adds information to the t o t a l body of knowledge by enlarging our understanding of human decision making. That understanding i s applicable not only to school counsellors but to other members of the human science d i s c i p l i n e s . 15 CHAPTER II THEORETICAL BACKGROUND There are numerous theories on how people a r r i v e at career decisions. Hoyt (1977) wrote that many people i n the past have " f a l l e n " into t h e i r careers due to lack of information and guidance. Super (1957) and Ginzberg, et a l . (1951) suggest that career choice i s part of a developmental process that begins i n early childhood with fantasy and develops into a r e a l i s t i c goal as i n d i v i d u a l s increasingly d i f f e r e n t i a t e between occupations and begin to i d e n t i f y with various r o l e models that may be l i t e r a r y or r e a l . While some assent i s given to s o c i a l influences on career choice by the developmental proponents (Super, Starishevsky, Matlin & Jordaan, 1963), more recent studies appear to t i e the influence of family and f a m i l i a l s o c i a l c l a s s to career choice (Spenner, 1988; "When I grow up...", 1986; Wilks, 1986). S t i l l other studies c i t e the influence of sex and ethnic background on career aspirations and outcomes (Crites, 1962; Stephan & Corder, 1985; T i t t l e , 1981; Woelfel, 1975). While there does not appear to be a u n i f i e d theory of career decision making ( C o l l i n , 1985), the theories that seem to underpin the career guidance programs at high school, and which have been part of the educational experience of most school counsellors, a f f e c t our present understanding and perception of how occupations are chosen. Using the generic headings that approximate those used by Osipow (1983), the l i t e r a t u r e of decision making focusing on occupational decisions was reviewed as follows: 1. Decision making models 2. Developmental and personal i d e n t i t y theories 3. So c i a l learning theories and s o c i o l o g i c a l influences. Decision Making Models Morris (1977) states that decision making theory deals with two types of decisions, psychosocial decisions and business-mathematical decisions. For t h i s study, theories dealing with psychosocial decisions were of i n t e r e s t . One of the e a r l i e s t examinations of decision making was done by James (1890). He, l i k e Festinger (1957) and Sloan (1987) defined decision as action a f t e r d e l i b e r a t i o n . Sloan (1987) expanded on the 17 d e f i n i t i o n by adding that decisions "are not a r b i t r a r y --they have meanings... [and] s t r i v e to f u l f i l intentions, desires, wishes" (p.12). James (1890) i d e n t i f i e d f i v e types of decisions that are r e f l e c t i v e of the spectrum of decision making discussed by Morris (1977). At one end of the spectrum i s the "reasonable", systematic type of decision that leaves i n balance one of several a l t e r n a t i v e s a f t e r deliberate weighing of the alter n a t i v e s i n the mind. While t h i s does not happen i n a lock-step fashion as suggested by Simon's (1983) SEU (subjective expected u t i l i t y ) model, i t leaves the decider f e e l i n g "free" (James, 1890) when the decision has been acted on. At the other end of the spectrum are located the decisions which are i n s p i r a t i o n a l (Morris, 1977), which " f e e l r i g h t " , and when acted on, also leave the decider f e e l i n g free. Between the two extremes are decisions which are made with some residual feelings of dissonance (Festinger, 1957). Some of these decisions are made by d r i f t i n g towards something so that eventually the decision i s made for the in d i v i d u a l by external circumstances; others are also made by d r i f t i n g but 18 when something comes along that excites the i n d i v i d u a l , he/she catapults into the decision (James, 1890). This type of decision i s most often open to being revoked or changed i f the choice c o n f l i c t s with values held by the i n d i v i d u a l or i s i n c o n f l i c t with expectations of the s i g n i f i c a n t s o c i a l group the i n d i v i d u a l belongs to (Janis & Mann, 1977). Another type of decision may also come abruptly but i s i n i t i a t e d by changes i n events such as a marriage, death, and so on, which produces new views of l i f e (James, 1890). To examine how people make decisions or to investigate process, a number of models have been developed. Decision models are frequently represented by charts or decision trees, which area useful t o o l s p r i m a r i l y for the analysis of those decisions that can be c l a s s i f i e d as systematic (Morris, 1977). However, Morris (1977) suggests that most decisions are not systematic but r e l y on i n d i v i d u a l i n t u i t i o n . In h i s examination of three decision models, Simon (1983) stated that while the SEU model i s more often used i n business, the behavioral model i s probably the way that most people make decisions. Simon's (1983) arguments i n favour of the behavioral model are well 19 supported by example, but i t seems that what he c a l l s the i n t u i t i v e r a t i o n a l model i s more c l o s e l y r e l a t e d to the theories of developmental career decision making (Ginzberg et a l . , 1951; Super, 1957) and phenomenological understanding of deciding (Landgrebe, 1981). The i n t u i t i v e r a t i o n a l model i s so named because research has demonstrated that people seem to make decisions based on i n t u i t i o n or judgment (Landgrebe, 1981; Morris, 1977; Simon, 1983). Husserl (Landgrebe, 1981) believed that which i s grasped for the f i r s t time i s something that i s f a m i l i a r because i t has always been there; part of a p r i o r experience (hence developmental). This i s the "aha" experience that Simon (1983) refe r s to when he states that i t can "happen only to people who possess the appropriate knowledge" (p.27). There appears to be i n s u f f i c i e n t documentation to propose that any decision model can provide us with a perspective suggested by Fishburn (1964): The f i r s t element of a decision s i t u a t i o n i s an i n d i v i d u a l decision maker ... He acts and reacts i n the context of h i s i n t e r n a l and external worlds, and what he does w i l l presumably have an e f f e c t on both. His i n t e r n a l world i s a world of motivations, interpretations and judgments. His l i n k s with h i s external world are i n the form of sense perceptions, actions and reactions, (p.19) Models attempt to explain the decision process, they do not contribute to our understanding of the inner and outer world of the decider at the time of decision making. Thus decision models may help to i l l u s t r a t e c e r t a i n aspects of the decision of the f i r s t time career decider, but they do not give us a picture of the complexity, richness or depth of the experience of deciding. Career Decision Theories Career decision theories, f a l l into two major categories, theories r e f l e c t i n g a psychological perspective (developmental and i d e n t i t y theories) and theories r e f l e c t i n g a sociological-anthropological perspective ( s o c i a l learning and s o c i o l o g i c a l influence t h e o r i e s ) . Developmental and Identity Theories Career development theories include developmental theories and models (Ginzberg et a l . , 1951; Super, 1957; Tiedeman & O'Hara, 1963) which follow the developmental perspective taken by psychologists i n the early 1950's (Tinsley & Tinsley, 1988). Pietrofesa and Splete (1975) broadly defined career development as a process that occurs over a l i f e span and i s s i g n i f i c a n t l y influenced by self-concept and by s o c i a l , physical and psychological forces i n one's world, (p.l) Developmental theories tend to be de s c r i p t i v e and have undergone some changes. Super et a l . (1963) became interested i n the r o l e of the self-concept on career development, and Tiedeman (Dudley & Tiedeman, 1977)) continued to examine personal perception i n career development; f i r s t developing a model of decision making ( M i l l e r & Tiedeman, 1972) and then examining the structure of career decision making based on two elements, environment and i n d i v i d u a l and three r e l a t i o n s h i p s , systems, function and structure (Dudley & Tiedeman, 1977). Personal i d e n t i t y theories have two major perspectives, p r e s c r i p t i v e models and s e l f -a c t u a l i z a t i o n . Unlike developmental models which are descr i p t i v e and ask "how" career decisions are made, pr e s c r i p t i v e models are based on the theory that there i s a best choice for every i n d i v i d u a l and therefore ask "what" choice should be made. Pr e s c r i p t i v e theories are often referred to as t r a i t and factor theories (Crites, 1962; Holland, 1973) and have given impetus to the development of such counselling t o o l s as i n t e r e s t , personality and temperament inventories. Self-concept theories on the other hand, make the assumptions that i n expressing a vocational preference a person puts into occupational terminology h i s idea of the kind of person he i s ; that i n entering an occupation, he seeks to implement a concept of himself; ...[and] achieves s e l f a c t u a l i z a t i o n . (Super et a l . , 1963, p.l) Mortimer, et a l . (1986) c i t e studies that give evidence of the v a l i d i t y of those assumptions. They indicate a r e l a t i o n s h i p between occupational a s p i r a t i o n and s t r i v i n g for achievement and high adolescents' self-esteem. Self-concept theories have enjoyed a continuous inte r e s t , not only from a career development perspective (Ginzberg et a l . , 1951; Super et a l . , 1963) but also from a psychoanalytic perspective (Osipow, 1983) . Leadership i n developing a behavioral perspective i n vocational choice and personality theory has been credited to Roe (1957) and Holland (1957) (Osipow, 1983). Behavioral theories appear to be r e l a t e d to personal i d e n t i t y theories as for example Holland's Code (Holland, 1973) and Roe's (1957) work rel a t e d to personality which linked heredity and parenting s t y l e s to energy expended i n f u l f i l l i n g occupational aspirations. S o c i a l Learning Theories and S o c i o l o g i c a l Influence S o c i a l learning and s o c i o l o g i c a l influences are c l o s e l y linked. Osipow (1983) writes that "one's s e l f -expectations are not independent of society's expectations" (p.225). Picou and Campbell (1975) describe race, sex and family socio-economic status as antecedent to s o c i a l learning and i n that sense normative. S o c i a l learning theories deal with the influence of family, s o c i a l and ethnic norms and the a v a i l a b i l i t y of education i n the development of the i n d i v i d u a l . The e f f e c t s of s o c i a l learning on career choice has been well documented i n research, although Osipow (1983) c r i t i c i z e s the theory on the basis that there i s i n s u f f i c i e n t research i n any one area, and that research has focused on choice and not enough on the adjustments that lead to choice. Osipow (1983) includes under the heading of s o c i a l learning, research i n the following areas: inherited a t t r i b u t e s such as race, gender and physical appearance and with s p e c i a l , apparently inherited a b i l i t i e s . . . environmental events and settings i n which the events occur...perceived outcomes and payoffs of various career p o s s i b i l i t i e s , family resources, r o l e models, s o c i a l and c l i m a t i c events such as war, natural disasters, technological developments, and educational opportunities and achievements, (p.144) Closely related to s o c i a l learning i s s o c i a l influence. S o c i o l o g i c a l anchor points include heredity, culture, geography and to some degree education which i s seen as having an ameliorating e f f e c t on those anchor points as i t increases occupational mobility and aspiration. Schein (1978) states that society influences people by l e g i s l a t i o n , education and other s o c i a l i n s t i t u t i o n s , and Kinnier, Brigman & Noble (1990) and Spenner (1988) show the e f f e c t of family enmeshment and c h i l d rearing values and behaviours on the development of personality and s o c i a l i z a t i o n of the i n d i v i d u a l . We are s o c i a l beings, born and raised i n a s o c i a l environment that becomes increasingly larger as we grow into adulthood. We are given c e r t a i n genetic t r a i t s — height, colour of skin and so on—are l i m i t e d to a degree by our geography and are immersed i n a culture which we accept as normal. In t h i s m i l i e u we receive our s o c i a l learning that shapes our views on sex ro l e , status, and amongst other things occupational values. These elements come together i n the person making a career decision and a f f e c t that decision. In that sense people make s o c i a l rather than i n d i v i d u a l decisions (Sloan, 1986). They gather information from t h e i r own s o c i a l space and tend to compromise t h e i r goals on the basis of accommodating t h e i r choices to what seems to be acceptable to t h e i r s o c i a l m i l i e u (Festinger, 1957; Gottfredson, 1981). Ecological Perspective More recently, an ecological perspective (Young, 1984) has been introduced which o f f e r s hope to bring together the diverse theories of career choice. I t acknowledges that career theories have been studied from varying perspectives with the r e s u l t that there appears to be a fragmentation of information. A model based on the ecological perspective ( C o l l i n & Young, 1986) describes the int e r a c t i o n of the i n d i v i d u a l and his/her environment and recognizes the r e c i p r o c a l 26 e f f e c t s of one on another. I t expands on the work done by Tiedeman and Tiedeman (Dudley & Tiedeman, 1977) whose continued investigation of career theories and vocational psychology lead them to view the i n d i v i d u a l as the "marvellous organism which manages to d i s a r t i c u l a t e while simultaneously managing to r e l a t e parts so that they function as wholes" (Dudley & Tiedman, 1977, p.274). The structure of career decision making introduced i n Dudley and Tiedeman (1977) could well act as a prologue to Young's (1984) ec o l o g i c a l perspective that sees the i n d i v i d u a l as the "producer of h i s or her own development...[and] o f f e r s the concept of niche, which addresses the way i n which an organism l i v e s i n a given environment" (p.154). Summary This chapter examined l i t e r a t u r e concerning general decision making as well as vocational decision making. I t provides the background against which the present research was undertaken. Decision making models were found to be useful i n examining the process of decision making and i n understanding how people a r r i v e at decisions. They do not answer the questions about the inner world of the decision maker or the l i n k s between his/her inner and outer worlds. Most of the research on career choice has been conducted with young adults. A body of l i t e r a t u r e examines occupational choice from a s o c i o l o g i c a l and s o c i a l learning point of view, but the bulk of the research i s based on career development theories which use the psychological perspective. Under t h i s umbrella heading appear readings i n career development theories and models, personal i d e n t i t y theories, t r a i t factor theories, and personality theories. I t was found however that there was no unifying theory of career choice ( C o l l i n , 1985), a l b e i t , there i s some hope that t h i s lack may be ameliorated by the ec o l o g i c a l systems approach described by Young (1984), or research that focused on the experience of career choice. We are therefore l e f t to ask "How i s the decision perceived by the decider?" 28 CHAPTER III METHOD This chapter discusses the parameters of the research and describes how the research was done. I t also contains the demographic information of the p a r t i c i p a n t s and a b r i e f description of the p i l o t project which was done p r i o r to the actual study. P i l o t Study The p i l o t was conducted using 8 volunteers who met the age (18 - 25 yrs.) and program ( f i r s t time commitment to a post secondary program which on completion could lead d i r e c t l y into an occupation) c r i t e r i a used i n the present research. The purpose of the p i l o t was fo u r f o l d . F i r s t , i t was necessary to e s t a b l i s h whether the present research project was f e a s i b l e ; whether i t met the major assumption that young adults are capable of a r t i c u l a t i n g t h e i r experience of career decision making; and whether the sub-assumption (that there i s s u f f i c i e n t narrative material available for a phenomenological analysis) was sound. 29 Second, i t permitted the development of an interview schedule which would allow a f u l l story to develop while maintaining a focus and yet be loose enough to give the narrators permission to t e l l t h e i r story as they experienced i t . Third, i t permitted me to practice interviewing s k i l l s which were si m i l a r i n s t y l e to those used i n an i n i t i a l counselling stage (gathering information), but with s u f f i c i e n t focus to allow the major part of the story to be t o l d i n one interview. Fourth, i t permitted the development of a demographic questionnaire that was easy to understand, quick to complete and which enabled me to ascertain whether the candidates met the c r i t e r i a described by the study. Each candidate was interviewed, the taped interviews were transcribed and analyzed, and summaries were prepared. During a follow-up interview candidates were asked to comment on the summary, the guestions and the demographic questionnaire. Over the course of two months, the question schedule and the demographic questionnaire evolved to t h e i r present state. Key questions asked i n the follow up interview were: 1) "Did the summary represent your experience of deciding as you had t o l d i t to me?" 2) "Were the questions phrased so that you were able to t e l l your story without f e e l i n g r e s t r i c t e d or led to answer i n any way?" 3) "Were the questions on the demographic questionnaire clear and easy to answer?" The question schedule developed from questions which were too vague and required a l o t of prompting to the present form. For example, a f t e r an introduction I had f i r s t asked, "Would you begin your story at the point where you had your f i r s t childhood dreams about what you would l i k e to be when you grow up?" I t was d i f f i c u l t f o r people to s t a r t t h e i r story because they were unsure at what point they had begun to dream. The question was then revised to "Start wherever i t seems most appropriate. You can s t a r t with the present and work backwards or s t a r t with your childhood dreams and work forward." This seemed too vague and didn't focus the intent of the narrative. Through several changes I arrived at the present question, "Could you t e l l me how you came to enrol i n the (name of) program at (name of i n s t i t u t i o n ) ? " This provided s u f f i c i e n t d i r e c t i o n for focus and also was open enough for people to begin t e l l i n g t h e i r story with as much d e t a i l as they chose. The demographic questionnaire underwent s i m i l a r changes as the focus of the questions s h i f t e d to r e f l e c t the needs of the study. For example, the i n i t i a l questionnaire had three questions regarding educational status focused on high school, i n comparison to the present questionnaire which has four questions of educational status designed to aid i n screening. At the conclusion of the p i l o t , the information gathered from the interviews was used to develop the questionnaire to i t s present form. An issue that arose as r e s u l t of the p i l o t was the need to continue getting feedback on my questioning and interviewing s k i l l s . I t was important to ensure that each person f e l t t h e i r story was new, was e s s e n t i a l and was being heard i n d e t a i l . I became very a l e r t to enter into each interview as i f i t were the f i r s t and to check back a f t e r each interview on my techniques. A second issue that arose was the need to r e f l e c t on the interview several days a f t e r i t had occurred but before I had read the t r a n s c r i p t or l i s t e n e d to the tape. While I made notes on the interview immediately afterward to r e t a i n the freshness of my observations, the need to r e f l e c t was quite d i f f e r e n t and permitted me to explore my feelings i n r e l a t i o n to the narrator, the s e t t i n g and the general tone of the interview. This was h e l p f u l i n assessing the interviews and how my i n t e r a c t i o n with the narrators may have impacted the s t o r i e s . In retrospect I f e e l that eight interviews were excessive for a p i l o t project, however, I learned much which I believe has enriched the present study. P r i n c i p a l Study Participants  Demographic Information This study was completed using volunteer respondents between the ages of 18 to 2 5 years which conforms to Dudley and Tiedeman (1977) and Super (1957) as the stage i n career development where exploration ceases and a stage of commitment begins. Other studies (Ginzberg et a l . , 1963; K r o l l et a l . , 1970; Schein, 1978) agree that during t h i s age a willingness to s p e c i a l i z e and to confine to a r e l a t i v e l y narrow f i e l d of i n t e r e s t s becomes increasingly evident. Volunteers f o r the study were f i r s t asked to complete a b r i e f demographic questionnaire (Appendix III) which served two purposes: f i r s t , to ascertain whether the candidate met the c r i t e r i a f or t h i s study, and second, to provide descriptive information about the p a r t i c i p a n t . While only age and program being attended were e s s e n t i a l to t h i s study, to provide a f u l l e r picture of the persons interviewed, a d d i t i o n a l demographic data were co l l e c t e d : gender, marital status, ethnic o r i g i n , educational status, occupation of members of immediate family, s i z e of community p a r t i c i p a n t was raised i n , distance of community from the i n s t i t u t i o n being attended, and average family income. A f u l l d escription of the demographic d e t a i l s i s found i n Appendix IV. Three men and s i x women were interviewed. (Only eight of these are part of the documentation as during the f i r s t interview i t became apparent that one of the par t i c i p a n t s r e a l l y had not narrowed down the option although the i n i t i a l guestionnaire seemed to indicate that a decision had been made. To maintain the i n t e g r i t y of the research a l l nine i n i t i a l interviews and follow ups were completed.) The ages of the eight p a r t i c i p a n t s were as follows: 18(1), 19(2), 20(4), 21(1). Programs and I n s t i t u t i o n s The i n s t i t u t i o n s that the candidates attended were University of B r i t i s h Columbia (3), Simon Fraser University (1), B r i t i s h Columbia I n s t i t u t e of Technology (1), Douglas College (1), Kwantlen College (1), Ryerson Polytechnical I n s t i t u t e (1). The programs included Medical School (1), Commerce (1), Occupational Health and Safety (1), In t e r i o r Design (1), Engineering (1), Arts leading to business (1), General Nursing (1), Computer Information Systems (1). Two candidates had been admitted and enroled i n the program but had not yet started and s i x had completed one year or less of t h e i r program. For the eight candidates t h i s had been the f i r s t program they had applied to. A l l candidates stated that i f they were to re-decide, they would make the same occupational choice at t h i s time. To protect t h e i r privacy while at the same time personalizing the narratives, f i c t i t i o n a l names have been given to the volunteers i n t h i s study. They are Joyce, medicine; Mary, business administration; Surinder, Occupational Health and Safety O f f i c e r ; James, engineer; Wayne, Computer Information Systems; Susan, I n t e r i o r Design; Janice, Registered Nurse; B i l l , commerce. A c c e s s i b i l i t y was the reason for using persons who are enroled i n , or who have just completed, the f i r s t year of a program i n a post secondary i n s t i t u t i o n which on completion can lead to occupational entry. While t h i s choice eliminates indiv i d u a l s who may also have made career decisions i n areas that do not require formal education, (such as apprenticeships, on-the-job t r a i n i n g and job entry without training) a sample drawn from a limited, s p e c i f i e d population i s i n keeping with previous research i n career choice (Crites, 1962; Dodge & Swan, 1971; Dudley & Tiedeman, 1977). The time span ranging from students who have just enroled i n , to those who may already have completed t h e i r f i r s t year i n the program, assured that the experience of making the decision was fresh i n memory (Festinger, 1957) and provided me with a time frame that was workable. Procedures Sampling Two methods of sampling were combined for t h i s study, s t r a t e g i c sampling (Hammersley & Atkinson, 1983) and tec h n i c a l sampling (Glaser & Strauss, 1967). The goal of s t r a t e g i c sampling i s to choose cases which w i l l "generate as many categories and properties of categories as possible" (Hammersley & Atkinson, 1983, p.44). Two conditions contribute to achieving that goal: the minimizing of differences between cases which for t h i s study was accomplished by choosing only students i n the f i r s t year of a career program; and the maximizing of differences within the cases, which was accomplished by choosing p a r t i c i p a n t s from d i f f e r e n t i n s t i t u t i o n s and d i s c i p l i n e s . Technical sampling (Glaser & Strauss, 1967) i s a method of continuous sampling. Rather than beginning research with a predetermined sample, the researcher combines sampling with analysis u n t i l s u f f i c i e n t information has been gathered. Sufficiency i s determined by saturation, that i s , when patterns of s i m i l a r i t y emerge. 37 I t was possible to combine the two methods of sampling because of the demographic questionnaire. The information from the questionnaire ensured that s t r a t e g i c sampling was used; the taped interviews were transcribed and analyzed a f t e r each interview and material combined with previous interviews u n t i l s u f f i c i e n t data were c o l l e c t e d and no more interviews were needed. The Interviews The study incorporated three phases of i n t e r a c t i o n with the p a r t i c i p a n t s . The f i r s t was the completion of a questionnaire and a b r i e f discussion of the purpose of the research. The second phase was the interview which focused on the participants• story of t h e i r experience of making the career decision, which yielded the raw data for t h i s research. During t h i s interview the narrators were encouraged to provide as much d e t a i l as possible without being lead. This interview also provided me with the opportunity to take note of the non-verbal responses of the narrator and of my own fee l i n g s towards the narrator and the story. 38 The t h i r d phase was a second interview which focused on the my inter p r e t a t i o n of the data and was intended to c l a r i f y and/or expand on the desc r i p t i o n of the experience of career decision making. During t h i s interview the candidates received a printed summary and int e r p r e t a t i o n of t h e i r own story. I read the summary to them a f t e r having instructed them to interrupt at anytime to inquire about a statement, make corrections or further r e f l e c t on what was stated. This interview was important to es t a b l i s h i f I had understood t h e i r story as they had narrated i t , and i f I had been able to i d e n t i f y the main threads of t h e i r experience so that the experiences would be rendered "true" i n the analysis. Three questions were also asked as part of the second interview: 1. "Do you f e e l that t h i s summary captures your experience of making a career decision?" 2. "Were there any other thoughts or feel i n g s that came up for you since we l a s t met which you would l i k e to add to your story?" 3. "Was the interview technique and the questions used, conducive to your t e l l i n g your story i n as much d e t a i l as you might have wanted?" 39 Interview question schedule. The question schedule for the main interview, which had been developed during the p i l o t project, was analyzed using Van Dalen and Meyer's (1966) c r i t e r i a for evaluating questionnaires and interviews. Three main considerations comprise the c r i t e r i a : 1. An analysis of the content of the questions. Included i n t h i s are considerations about the necessity of a question; decisions regarding the concreteness or generality of the data reguested; and wording guestions to permit respondents to express themselves accurately and completely. 2. Analysis of the language of questions. This included wording the questions i n nontechnical, straightforward (as opposed to leading or misleading) language and framing them so as to e l i c i t more information without causing respondents to become angry or to f a l s i f y the answers. 3. Sequencing of questions so that each question  sets the stage for the next one. The questions used and the questioning techniques conformed to these considerations. Hammersley and Atkinson (1983) discussing the questioning techniques of ethnographers state that non-d i r e c t i v e interviewing appears to be favoured by ethnographers i n order "to minimize ... the influence of the researcher on what i s said" (p.110). This s t y l e of interviewing i s marked by active l i s t e n i n g , r e f l e c t i n g what i s said, asking for d e t a i l s , expressing emotions when appropriate and generally shaping the interview so that as much d e t a i l as possible i s generated. With t h i s i n mind, I entered into each interview with the question schedule, but d i d not always use the s p e c i f i c questions. I t was more important for me to cover the issues. I f the narrator had already spoken s u f f i c i e n t l y on the subject a question might not be included. Other questions were asked i f I believed that the narrator had entered into a part of the story that was e s s e n t i a l to his/her experience. Interview methods. To meet the objective of t h i s research—recording the experience of career decision making—a focused, nondirective interview s t y l e was chosen. Such an interview r e l i e s on the interviewer covering a serie s of topics i n the form of open ended questions (a f u l l d e s c r i p t i o n of the introduction and questions i s given i n Appendix V), to e l i c i t information. By using well placed probes, minimal encouragers, summary statements, and so on, rather than r e l y i n g on a question-answer technique, the story i s kept flowing " i n a clear, understandable way with nothing e s s e n t i a l omitted" (Wiersma, 1980, p.70). Location of interview. While the choice of location for the interview was l e f t to the candidate as much as possible, the p i l o t project had alerted me to the need to have a place where I too f e l t comfortable and assured of a reasonable degree of freedom from interruptions. As a re s u l t , most of the interviews were conducted i n an o f f i c e . Length of interview. The volunteers were made aware during the i n i t i a l contact that i t would take approximately 1 1/2 to 2 hours to complete the f i r s t interview, and that a follow up session of about 1/2 hour would be needed to review the summary of the story and to conduct a check of accuracy. The actual interviews ranged from j u s t over an hour to almost three hours, and the follow-ups from 1/2 hour to one hour. Establishing rapport. Good rapport was established between the interviewer and the candidate following the suggestions of Wiersma (1980) and Gordon (1980) which can be summed up as professional, f r i e n d l y and conducted i n a business l i k e manner (see Appendix V). Body language s k i l l s such as good eye contact, nodding of head, open posture were used to maintain rapport. Protocol The purpose of the interview was to record the experience of f i r s t time career decision makers. The f i r s t part of the interview was structured to ensure that good rapport was established. I r e i t e r a t e d the purpose of the interview, how i t would be recorded and read the Part i c i p a n t Informed Consent Form to the candidate. I also answered any questions that the 43 p a r t i c i p a n t s had about me or the t h e s i s . The second part of the interview r e l i e d on nondirective interviewing technigues i n order that a f u l l y "fleshed-out" story of the p a r t i c i p a n t ' s experience was obtained. Recording of data. In order to r e t a i n the f u l l story of the candidate, and to permit the interviewer to be minimally i n t r u s i v e , (Wiersma, 1980) I chose to audio tape each of the interviews. Analysis and Interpretation  Description of phenomenology. The purpose of t h i s section i s to provide a b r i e f d e s c r i p t i o n of phenomenology and to demonstrate that i t i s an appropriate method for research that examines the meaning of an experience. According to Gurwitsch (1964) "Phenomenology i s concerned ...with phenomena" (p.167) i n the sense that i n d i v i d u a l s transform t h e i r perceptual world into language and thereby di s c l o s e t h e i r actions and thoughts so that we, the l i s t e n e r and the reader, are present to i t . Phenomenology permits us to express our understanding of the inter p r e t a t i o n placed on an event "as i t exi s t s for the subject" (Giorgi, 1975, p.74) so that others may share i n i t . An underlying p r i n c i p l e of phenomenology i s the understanding that for each of us our body i s our r e a l i t y and that the world i s where a l l experience takes place. Each of us has a "home world" (Landgrebe, 1981), a known community of geography, manners customs, laws, people and so on where we experience bodily sensations, memories, thoughts or fee l i n g s i n various combinations. We arrange these experiences by means of r e f l e c t i o n and we communicate them by means of language. While experience i s f l u i d , changing and personal i n character (Linschoten, 1968), language i s s o c i a l and concrete and permits us to share the experience. A second p r i n c i p l e of phenomenology i s the assumption that a l l humans have experiences and that t h i s permits us to share i n the t h i r d person, what was experienced i n the f i r s t person (Linschoten, 1978). To understand and explain the experience of another, we need to keep i n mind what Linschoten (1968) describes as the f i v e c h a r a c t e r i s t i c s of experience which are here summarized: 1. i t i s personal and conforms to personal consciousness 2. i t constantly changes i n our consciousness 3. i t i s a continuous stream i n consciousness 4. i t i s changed by thought and language so that i t appears to be a series of i s o l a t e d objects 5. i t i s shaped by the int e r e s t we bestow on some ideas and thoughts while excluding others. I t i s the task of the phenomenologist to " l e t the world of the describer ... reveal i t s e l f through the descri p t i o n i n an unbiased way" (Giorgi, 1975, p.74). To do that, the researcher must rediscover the " L i f e World" (or "home world") of the source of information (Linschoten, 1968). Examining the s t o r i e s of ind i v i d u a l s to discover that world, leads to, what Polkinghorne (1988) describes as "narrative knowing". We can "know" by examining the s t o r i e s so as to illumine the phenomena; transcending beyond the words to draw out the iso l a t e d objects which have been i d e n t i f i e d by the narrator as his/her r e a l i t y . These i s o l a t e d objects are grouped and arranged by the researcher into a meaningful description which remains f a i t h f u l to the phenomena as i t was l i v e d , and presents us with an understanding of the experience which we can communicate to other people. I t i s that c h a r a c t e r i s t i c that makes i t an appropriate method to use for a study that proposes to understand the experience of making a career commitment i n young adulthood. Phenomenolocfical analysis. A f t e r each interview, the narrative was transcribed with both the interviewer's as well as the narrator's words, and interpreted by a method of phenomenological reduction as described by Gurwitsch (1964, pp. 155-420), and Giorgi (1975, pp. 72-79). Phenomenological reduction permits us to examine a l l the possible presentations of the events that make up an experience (which may appear d i f f e r e n t from one another because of time, space or person) and demonstrate t h e i r s t r u c t u r a l unity. The examination of the phenomena of the experience of making a career choice i n young adulthood conformed to the steps discussed by Gurwitsch (19 64) and Giorgi (1975). 1. Each audio tape was transcribed. Symbols for pauses, change i n voice tone, volume and so on were developed and included i n the t r a n s c r i p t s so that i n reading, the meaning would not be l o s t . 2. The protocols (transcripts of the taped interviews) were read and re-read and the content r e f l e c t e d on. 3. Every time a new thought was perceived, the words were highlighted. This was done without reference to the questions asked by the interviewer. For example Joyce began by stat i n g : I had a tough time ac t u a l l y deciding that that was what I wanted to do. "a tough time a c t u a l l y deciding" was highlighted as one thought. Joyce then went on i n the next sentence: In t h i s program i n p a r t i c u l a r , something where you have to go through a l o t of loop holes to get to. "to go through a l o t of loop holes" i s d i f f e r e n t i n thought than "actually deciding" so i t was also highlighted. G i o r g i (1975) r e f e r s to t h i s process as i d e n t i f y i n g the elements that w i l l comprise the "meaning units". 48 4. The highlighted phrases and words were written on 3"x5" cards, i d e n t i f i e d with page numbers from the protocols, and sorted i n p i l e s r e f l e c t i n g statements s i m i l a r i n meaning and intent. The natural phrases and sentences were paraphrased (Sandello, 1975) i n order to begin the "dialogue" between the researcher and the narrator which i s the essence of phenomenology and leads us to understand the experience from the point of view of the narrator. This step contributed the information for the in t e r p r e t i v e summary that was read to the candidate i n the second interview; i t also supplied the thematic units for the analysis of the experience. For example, Joyce's t h i r d statement returns to her opening remark of having a "tough" time deciding: but to come to the actual decision i t s e l f , I went through a l o t of analyzing... Both statements r e f l e c t the same meaning and intent and therefore were indexed as related and became part of the same meaning unit. In a l l , 41 index headings were i d e n t i f i e d . The cards were reviewed and checked against the o r i g i n a l protocol. 5. Using the concept of the noematic nucleus (Gurwitsch, 1964) - the core of what i s perceived - the 49 index headings were collapsed into 11 categories (see Appendix VI). For example Surinder's statement, "I don't know what the future holds", was indexed as : "Future - ambiguous f e e l i n g s " while Wayne * s statement, I want to become a writer [ i n the future] that i s my dream, was indexed as: "Future dreams and plans". The nucleus of both statements i s the future, therefore these two statements were placed into the same category. Both expressions were concerned with the same theme (future) and contributed to a greater understanding of future as something unknown but also open to dreams and goals. 6. The categories were then assembled and the protocols re-read i n l i g h t of the categories. Two questions were asked i n t h i s step: What i s the experience? How i s i t framed? The purpose of t h i s step was to examine the data i n terms of the o r i g i n a l question: What i s the experience of career decision making i n early adulthood? Giorgi (1975) refe r s to t h i s step as examining the expression of the central themes. The structure of the experience i s answered by the "What" 50 question: "What does t h i s t e l l me about the experience of making a career decision i n young adulthood?" The frame of the experience i s answered by the "How" question: "How does t h i s statement or theme i l l u s t r a t e the experience?" These steps allowed me to organize i n d i v i d u a l perceptual experiences into groups of categories which could be synthesized into a consistent structure of the experience of career decision making i n early adulthood. Summaries. A summary of the protocols was prepared for each narrative r e f l e c t i n g the meaning of the experience for the narrator. Each summary was a d i s t i l l a t i o n of what was said by the narrator and was t i e d to hi s or her exact words. No attempt was made to place the narrative into a h i s t o r i c a l context outside of what had been t o l d to me. Information that was rela t e d was grouped so that the story flowed naturally. Assumptions I had made or c l a r i f i c a t i o n s I needed were added to the summary. 51 Although a printed copy was given to the authors of the narratives, I read the summaries to them as part of the second interview. I explained how I had a r r i v e d at the summary and they were asked to interrupt, i n t e r j e c t or comment at any point as I read. We subsequently discussed the summary i n terms of accuracy i n representing the experience, with p a r t i c u l a r heed given to areas where I had bridged gaps i n information or where there were questions of meaning for the respondent. For example, the summary for Susan states: The v i s i t to Ryerson appeared to happen some time i n the year a f t e r Susan had started a program at Langara. Susan applied to Langara because she f e l t she did not have 'enough confidence' to r i g h t away apply to Ryerson. At Langara she took design and art h i s t o r y courses. However I am not quite cl e a r how long the stay at Langara was, since during that time the v i s i t to Ryerson took place. That v i s i t resulted i n Susan upgrading many of her grade 12 courses i n order to get the 'B' average which someone i n the Registrar's o f f i c e i n Ryerson said she would need to get i n . I stopped the reading at t h i s point i n the follow-up interview to c l a r i f y the gap i n information. The new information was added to the summary i n i t a l i c p r i n t to separate i t from the i n i t i a l interview. In t h i s manner information from the second interview was integrated into the protocol and into the summary of the f i r s t interview without changing the o r i g i n a l words. R e l i a b i l i t y and V a l i d i t y Polkinghorne (1983) states: •Knowledge* i s f a l l i b l e . I t merely represents the best explanation a v a i l a b l e , . . . . The ultimate standard for determining the accuracy of the researcher's proposals i s the i n t u i t i o n that people have about t h e i r everyday experience, (pp.242, 251) This statement i s perhaps most applicable to phenomenological investigation. Agnew and Brown (1989) state that the vari e t y of human experience i s present because we construe our own r e a l i t y i n as many ways as we can imagine. The researcher needs to l i m i t his/her attention to what i s relevant, but paradoxically, i t i s d i f f i c u l t to answer what is_ relevant. In a subsequent paper Agnew and Brown (1989) wrote, "The ultimate s i g n a l that we have indeed seized r e a l i t y over and above personal conviction, i s consensus" (p. 174). R e l i a b i l i t y can be achieved i n narrative research p r i m a r i l y through the dependability of the data. Dependability r e l i e s on the trustworthiness of the taping, the notes taken, the t r a n s c r i p t s made and the a b i l i t y of the interviewer to e l i c i t as much data as possible without leading the narrator. Polkinghorne (1988) states that r e l i a b i l t y i n narrative studies do "not have formal proofs of r e l i a b i l i t y , r e l y i n g instead on the d e t a i l s of t h e i r procedures to evoke an acceptance of trustworthiness of the data" (p.177). This i s echoed by Sandelowski (1986) who suggests that q u a l i t a t i v e research, although non-repeatable, derives a measure of r e l i a b i l i t y from what he names " a u d i t a b i l i t y " , that i s a t r a i l l e f t by the researcher that can be c l e a r l y followed so that a second researcher, using the same perspectives and s i m i l a r data would a r r i v e at s i m i l a r conclusions. The degree to which a t r a i l has been l e f t by me i n t h i s study and the degree to which the reader would a r r i v e at s i m i l a r conclusions as I have, i s the measure of r e l i a b i l i t y for t h i s research. V a l i d i t y depends on "the strength of the analysis of the data" (Polkinghorne, 1988, p. 176) which i n a phenomenological study means the e t h i c a l use of phenomenological methods and the recognition of the researcher's own attitudes and perceptions both during the interview and i n the analysis of the data. The task of the researcher i s to accurately report the meaning of the experience as i t was described by the narrators. 54 To ensure a reasonably high degree of accuracy i n analysis and reporting, and thereby increase the strength of the v a l i d i t y , two methods of t r i a n g u l a t i o n were used - respondent v a l i d a t i o n and technique t r i a n g u l a t i o n (Hammersley & Atkinson, 1983). Respondent v a l i d a t i o n was achieved through the second interview by reading the summary of the narrative to the respondent, discussing the summary and asking the three questions (cited i n "The Interview"). Technique t r i a n g u l a t i o n was accomplished by using a second method of analysis of the same data using the questions i n the interview as a basis for t h i s i n v e s t i g a t i o n . The protocols were read i n terms of the questions asked and the major ideas addressed within the framework of each question were i d e n t i f i e d . These were then sorted into common themes. This method i d e n t i f i e d eleven major themes which corresponded c l o s e l y to the eleven categories i d e n t i f i e d by the phenomenological method of reduction (Appendix VII). Both methods lead to the core information from two separate approaches. Limitations The value of much research l i e s i n i t s a b i l i t y to be generalized. This research as i t i s presented, has some l i m i t a t i o n s . F i r s t the sample i s lim i t e d to young adults who have committed themselves to a post secondary career course so that the information cannot be generalized to a l l groups of people making career decisions. Second, because of the large volume of data generated from interviews, q u a l i t a t i v e research, uses r e l a t i v e l y small samples. G e n e r a l i z a b i l i t y i s therefore gauged on a 'goodness of f i t ' (Guba & Lincoln c i t e d i n Sandelowski, 1986) p r i n c i p l e , rather than on a large sample. I t i s the reader who gauges whether the findings are "meaningful and applicable, i n terms of [his/her] own experience" (Sandelowski, 1986, p.32). Hammersley and Atkinson (1983) state that because s o c i a l research i s conducted i n an everyday s e t t i n g rather than one set up purposely for research "the danger that the findings w i l l apply only to the research s i t u a t i o n i s generally lessened" (p.24). A t h i r d l i m i t a t i o n arises from the nature of the research i t s e l f . Experience i s private and changes continuously. As such, narrative research i s not repeatable i n the t r a d i t i o n a l sense. The r e t e l l i n g of a story i s coloured by the experience of the f i r s t t e l l i n g and i s no longer the same. This l i m i t s the reproduction of the study to the a b i l i t y of the researcher to engage the reader i n a dialogue on the experience of career decision making i n young adulthood and to the " a u d i t a b i l i t y " of the research method. F i n a l l y , there i s a measure of error i n gathering and i n t e r p r e t i n g the data that also sets l i m i t s to the research. While the use of audio-taped interviews permitted continuous r e f e r r a l to the o r i g i n a l voice, there are other aspects of the interview which are a v a i l a b l e only to the interviewer's memory: body language, non-verbal communication and so on. Even though f i e l d notes were made af t e r each interview and a diary of r e f l e c t i o n s kept, the degree of my involvement i n the research cannot be ob j e c t i v e l y measured. Because of these l i m i t a t i o n s , the r e s u l t s of the study can be stated only as approximations that tend towards truth. Assumptions A l l s c i e n t i f i c research rests on basic assumptions which include the acceptance of a c e r t a i n uniformity of nature and of psychological processes (Van Dalen & Meyer, 1966). The examination of the narratives of f i r s t time career decision making r e l i e s on two major assumptions and several subassumptions. 1. Major assumption: Young adults are able to a r t i c u l a t e t h e i r i n d i v i d u a l s t o r i e s of how they arrived at t h e i r present course of studies which, upon completion, may lead to an occupation. Subassumptions: a. There i s s u f f i c i e n t material i n the narratives to permit phenomenological analysis. b. Young adults are able to express the experience of t h e i r decision making with a l l i t s attendant emotions. 2. Major assumption: The examination of f i r s t time career decision making narratives w i l l enrich our understanding of how young adults experience t h i s major l i f e decision. Subassumptions: a. The knowledge we currently possess of career decision making i s incomplete, b. The examination of narratives using phenomenological method i s an e f f e c t i v e means of accessing career decision making experience. The implication of these assumptions i s that people are able to narrate t h e i r experiences i n s u f f i c i e n t d e t a i l that we might learn from them. Polkinghorne (1988) writes that such narration i s not only f e a s i b l e but natural to a l l ages and a l l cultures. Watson and Watson-Franke (1985) suggest that the i n d i v i d u a l i s becoming l o s t i n research that i s based on models, experiments or q u a n t i f i c a t i o n and that we need to return to research that deals with the " i n s i d e r ' s " point of view. I t appears then that the assumptions that people can e f f e c t i v e l y t e l l t h e i r own s t o r i e s and that the present knowledge we possess of career decision making i s incomplete, have a basis i n current l i t e r a t u r e . I t was on the basis of that l i t e r a t u r e , my own feelings grounded i n experience i n the f i e l d and my acceptance of those assumptions that t h i s research was undertaken. 59 E t h i c a l Considerations In addition to the i n i t i a l discussion on purpose, the volunteers who f i t the c r i t e r i a were given the opportunity to choose not to p a r t i c i p a t e throughout the study. To ensure that there was no sense of coercion, the P a r t i c i p a n t Informed Consent form was read to the volunteers p r i o r to the i n i t i a l interview and a copy of the form was l e f t with the volunteer. Anonymity was protected by i d e n t i f y i n g the audiotapes and the guestionnaires with corresponding code numbers. In tra n s c r i b i n g the tapes, only code numbers were used which were replaced by f i c t i t i o n a l names i n the research discussion. Care was given that the candidates had s u f f i c i e n t time to deal with s e n s i t i v e issues that arose as a r e s u l t of the narration. Time was also given at the end of each interviewing session to debrief. 60 Summary The purpose of t h i s chapter has been to discuss the method used i n c o l l e c t i n g the data, sampling techniques and recording of data as well as explaining the method of phenomenology which determined the data c o l l e c t i o n and the sampling. Research was c i t e d i n examining the measures of v a l i d i t y and r e l i a b i l i t y as well as i n determining the need for t h i s type of research. I t i s the soundness of the methodology chosen f o r the purpose of a study, and the c l a r i t y of a r t i c u l a t i o n of the method that permits the reader to enter into the discussion of the r e s u l t s and the conclusion. Unless both researcher and reader enter the discussion with the same understanding of purpose and method, there can be no meaningful dialogue of r e s u l t s . CHAPTER IV FINDINGS The purpose of t h i s chapter i s to draw together the information gathered by the research and to examine the experience of coming to a career decision as defined for t h i s study. Three main parts w i l l comprise t h i s chapter. F i r s t , because the parameters of phenomenological research include the researcher as an i n t e g r a l part of his/her research (Valle & King, 1978), the r o l e of the interviewer i n t h i s research i s addressed. Secondly, a f u l l discussion of the themes and categories that emerged from the analysis of the protocols w i l l be presented. Thirdly, the themes and categories w i l l be discussed i n r e l a t i o n to the o r i g i n a l question and to the current research i n career decision making. The Role of the Interviewer There i s no process of enlightenment, d i s c i p l i n e , or p u r i f i c a t i o n by v i r t u e of which the c r i t i c a l thinker can escape a l l bias, since to escape these would amount to an escape from one's s i t u a t i o n i n the world. (Schroder, 1987, p. 65) Phenomenological research accepts the biases of the researcher as an i n t e g r a l part of the research; the o b j e c t i v i t y i n terms of his/her experience of what i s being observed. L i t e r a t u r e that discusses research methodology cautions that i t i s f u t i l e to attempt to eliminate the e f f e c t s of the researcher on the research. Instead, i t suggests, that the researcher should begin by examining his/her own biases and reasons f o r doing the research (Agnew & Brown, 1989; From, 1971; Hammersley & Atkinson, 1983). My own biases stem from my pra c t i c e as a high school counsellor where much of my time was spent helping students with educational and career planning. I observed a discrepancy between what students said about themselves i n in d i v i d u a l counselling and what happened i n the guidance programs. Furthermore, I noted that students did not generally act on the re s u l t s of guidance a c t i v i t i e s i n either educational or vocational planning. When I entered the master's program i n counselling psychology, I was challenged to look at how I had come to make that decision. I had acted on what I believed were my strengths; what others had confirmed to be my strengths. I had not made use of the tools I had taught students to use i n guidance classes. At the 63 same time, as a mother of two young adults I watched them struggle with t h e i r career decisions. Certainly career decision making has been more than j u s t a passing i n t e r e s t for me. I r e a l i z e d that I was vulnerable to reading into the t r a n s c r i p t s more than what was there (From, 1971). Therefore I kept two journals. The f i r s t I completed as soon a f t e r the interview as possible, writing down everything that I remembered about the interview. The second I wrote several days l a t e r , r e f l e c t i n g on how I f e l t about that interview and my r o l e i n i t . The journals became the i n i t i a l dialogue. For example, I soon began to observe that I experienced some anxiety during each interview although the source of anxiety seemed to vary. On the tapes that anxiety was not apparent; but i n reading the t r a n s c r i p t s I observed myself stu t t e r i n g , repeating words and on occasion making a comment that seemed "chatty". The second interview l e t me check how the narrators f e l t about t h i s . I t seemed that my personal anxiety did not detract from t h e i r a b i l i t y to t e l l t h e i r s t o r i e s . Most of the narrators responded to my question about my technigues as Janice had: I thought i t was good. I t set me o f f , got me going. Instead of asking something r e a l l y general, having to bring i t a l l out. [It seemed] more organized that way and then I could add anything I wanted to i t too. Just as most of the p a r t i c i p a n t s stated that they had learned a l o t about themselves just by t e l l i n g t h e i r story, I learned a l o t about myself. I came to see that i n s p i t e of a l l the theories about human actions, the i n d i v i d u a l person i s t r u l y unique. I learned that I was not always able to stand back and j u s t l i s t e n ; that on occasion I entered into the experience of the i n d i v i d u a l . I t was for those moments that the dialogue i n my journal became e s p e c i a l l y important. In prevented me from misinterpreting the narrators' experiences and cautioned me to be v i g i l a n t i n the use of t h e i r words when describing the experiences. I t was also important for that reason to have b u i l t into the research method a second interview. F i n a l l y , I found that the narrative s t i l l e l i c i t s i nside of me the curious c h i l d that can't wait to hear what comes next and hopes that the story w i l l never end. When i t f i n a l l y ended, i t was with a sense of regret that I packed up my tape recorder and went home. This f e e l i n g was most underlined by the story of James. 65 James phoned several times between the two interviews and once more af t e r the f i n a l interview i n order to share the good news of a happy ending to h i s story. Each phone c a l l for me was l i k e an instalment of a s e r i a l movie. I had s e c r e t l y hoped that the story would have a happy ending and when the l a s t phone c a l l came to l e t me know he had made i t , I was more than ju s t elated. Each of the volunteers became more than ju s t narrators. They became co-researchers, interested i n me and my work j u s t as I was interested i n them and t h e i r work; people who had for a short time i n v i t e d me into the intimacy of t h e i r world t r u s t i n g that t h i s intimacy would be respected. Theme Clusters and Categories D e f i n i t i o n of Theme Clusters and Categories The purpose of tr a n s c r i b i n g the protocols was to i d e n t i f y and integrate the descriptions of the experience of making a career choice "into an exhaustive description" (Valle & King, 1978, p.60) that would lead to the meaning of the experience, or what i s c a l l e d , the fundamental structure. While experience i s idiographic, the structure of experience 66 i s p l u r a l i s t i c . To reveal the structure of the experience of making a career decision i n early adulthood, s i t u a t i o n a l experiences, or "meaning u n i t s " ( G i r g i , 1975), were f i r s t i d e n t i f i e d and than sorted into "clusters of themes" ( C o l a i z z i , 1978). For example, one theme cl u s t e r was made up of 14 d i f f e r e n t sentences, expressing 14 in d i v i d u a l meaning units, taken from 6 narratives. A l l of the sentences had one thing i n common, that the in d i v i d u a l believed i n him/herself and the decision that he/she had made. The aggregate formulated meaning for these sentences was stated as "Making a decision to commit to a career program i s affirming a b e l i e f i n oneself." Therefore I t i t l e d the theme cl u s t e r as "Decision making: bel i e v i n g i n yourself." In a l l , 40 theme c l u s t e r s emerged from the readings of the protocols. Gurwitsch (1964) and Linschoten (1968) wrote that i n d i v i d u a l experience i s one-sided. By grouping the contents of a p a r t i c u l a r experience into theme cl u s t e r s , the one-sidedness of i n d i v i d u a l experience i s eliminated and we can begin to speak of an in c l u s i v e experience. The theme clust e r s were then collapsed to r e f l e c t the nucleus of the experience. This step reduced the 67 data to t h e i r most fundamental form, devoid of i n d i v i d u a l presentation. For example, one category i s named " V o l i t i o n " . This category i s made up of seven theme c l u s t e r s : 1. Choice i s a personal thing, 2. Individuals experience i n t e r n a l and external pressures to make a choice, 3. Career choice i s d i f f i c u l t because there are so many d i f f e r e n t kinds of careers and so l i t t l e knowledge about them, 4. Personal descriptions of a career choice, 5. Expressing need for personal guidance i n making a choice, 6. Relating high school experiences to career choice, and 7. Giving advice to others about making a career choice. While each of the theme c l u s t e r s dealt with a d i f f e r e n t aspect of making a career decision, the core of the experience stripped of a l l modes of presentation was concerning " v o l i t i o n " . In t h i s way, theme cl u s t e r s were reduced to 11 categories which were t i t l e d to r e f l e c t the nucleus of the experience (Appendix VI). The o r i g i n a l words that the narrators used and which are the basis for forming the categories, were then examined to answer the questions that lead to the structure: "What does t h i s statement t e l l us about the experience?" and "How i s the statement framed?" An Examination of the Categories and Theme Clusters In t h i s section the categories are named and discussed i n terms of the theme cl u s t e r s that make up each category. Each sub-heading r e f l e c t s one or more categories. The dialogue focuses on the two questions that lead to the structure of the experience. The Relationship of Self to the Decision This category was comprised of eight theme cl u s t e r s that focused on the i n d i v i d u a l coming to a decision. The theme cl u s t e r s were made up of statements which dealt with the concept of belie v i n g i n oneself; and with the understanding of one's history, (when and how "career" became part of thought and then action). There were also themes about the s e l f i n re l a t i o n s h i p to others, and how well the in d i v i d u a l s knew themselves. S t i l l other theme c l u s t e r s were made up of statements that r e f l e c t e d the narrators' stance on what they wanted i n l i f e and the confidence that they f e l t once they had made the decision. F i n a l l y two theme c l u s t e r s dealt with times of agony and indecision p r i o r to committing to a program and while waiting for a response to the application. 69 Career decision making i s seen as a continuum by young adults. While some of the respondents attempted to define a beginning, the memories do not seem so much a factor i n the experience of deciding but rather part of the frame del i m i t i n g the scope of the experience. For example, Wayne r e f l e c t e d on his beginnings: I've never decided I'm going to do computers. I've j u s t always known that I was going to do computers. Soon as I saw my f i r s t computer, I just knew I'm a computer person. In a s i m i l a r statement Janice r e c a l l s her early memories: One event that I remember i s when I got my t o n s i l s out. The nurses were r e a l l y nice and I think that's where I f i r s t made my decision I wanted to be a nurse. Just as these statements did not provide a sense of a decision having been made at that time, subsequent statements did not imply that choosing an occupation was the end of career decision making. The commitment to t h e i r respective programs was very r e a l ; the implementation of t h e i r decision continues to unfold into the future. Mary knew that business i s the area for her. S t i l l she had no d e f i n i t e plans beyond working for a few years. I'm not sure. I ' l l work for a few years and then I ' l l get my M.B.A. That i s , my bachelors w i l l 70 j u s t be administration, i t ' s just a step towards, [my goal]...My r e a l goal i s my masters i n business administration, but Law i s always something I considered. I looked into doing a j o i n t M.B.A. and my Law degree, 'cause you can do that at U.B.C. Ahm, I was looking a l l through the options. I'm s t i l l not sure I ' l l do i t . I think i t ' s j u s t something that's always been there but i t ' s nothing l i k e the business i s to me now. Wayne replying to a guestion of whether he sees him-s e l f doing computers for the r e s t of his l i f e , stated: Ahm, i t might be. I, guess i t probably w i l l be. I enjoy i t now, so I don't see why I shouldn't enjoy i t i n f i v e , ten years. What I want to do i s to ah become a writer, just l i k e part time and t r y to do that because I do l i k e writing. The descriptions of the jobs they would a c t u a l l y do at the end of t h e i r t r a i n i n g were rendered i n broad and sweeping terms. B i l l spoke about some of h i s future plans which may include p o l i t i c s : The path of business i s sort of the mainstay. As my l i f e w i l l go on, my career w i l l go on. T h a t ' l l be the central f o c a l point whether I w i l l take a branch o f f that p e r i o d i c a l l y or a branch that leads me away from i t completely, I'm happy with that. For Janice going into nursing f u l f i l l e d a childhood dream; yet the unfolding of that dream was t o l d i n words that implied that her decision was open to change: I r e a l l y want to t r a v e l . You could go and do nursing anywhere, there's such a shortage of them. ... There's so many d i f f e r e n t things you could do 71 with i t [nursing], I think. You know, i f I wasn't happy with i t I could switch without getting out of i t altogether. I t i s t h i s continuum of a decision with non-definable beginnings and non-definable ends that Linschoten (1968) c a l l s a "continuous stream". The narrators' s t o r i e s defied asking the question of "When did you come to t h i s decision and what w i l l you be at the end of the program?" and instead forced me to ask "How did you come to t h i s decision and what expectations do you have for your future that t h i s career program w i l l lead you towards?" While there was an attempt by Wayne and Janice to place t h e i r decisions into t h e i r history, for most of the narrators the need to make a career decision began about grade 11. Part of the stimulation for dealing with career plans at that grade l e v e l may have come from school guidance programs that the respondents eithe r p a r t i c i p a t e d i n , or were cognizant of being ava i l a b l e to them i n t h e i r respective schools. In some cases, as for example, i n the narratives of B i l l and Surinder, parents also became involved. Without exception, each of the narrators experienced the need to face career decision making between grades 10 and 12 even though a number of them did not make a commitment to a career program u n t i l a f t e r they had already entered post-secondary education. Joyce states "I f i r s t started considering careers about grade 11." Mary believed that by grade 11 i f I wasn't enjoying sciences I probably shouldn't go into i t for the r e s t of my l i f e . . . . A l l of a sudden i n grade 12 i t j u s t h i t me l i k e a lig h t n i n g b o l t . Surinder explored physiotherapy i n grade 12 as an option because her parents "want t h e i r c h i l d r e n to have made a career decision." And B i l l r e c a l l e d that while he began toying with the idea of business i n grade 10 by the end of grade 12 I had decided that I was going into [a] more l i b e r a l area of business, dealing with people rather than with numbers. Each of the respondents spoke i n s i m i l a r terms with the exception of Wayne and James who believed that t h e i r decision had always been there, even though they were not sure how t h e i r i n t e r e s t s would be implemented as a career choice u n t i l they were i n grade 12. There seemed to be e x p l i c i t or i m p l i c i t recognition by the in d i v i d u a l respondents that the decision to enter t h e i r respective program was done f o r themselves and by themselves. Part of the experience 73 of committing to a career program included an under-standing that they had autonomously made that decision. No one made the decision for them. And at some l e v e l , they recognized the aspect of aloneness that making a decision brings with i t . R e flecting on her choice, Mary spoke of that aloneness when she made her decision. But r e a l l y nobody i n the business world or anything l i k e that. Never had anybody that worked i n business. I mean my dad does, but you know, he never said anything. But nobody was there saying 'Oh t h i s would be a r e a l l y good idea, t h i s i s what i t ' s l i k e . 1 Nobody. I just sort of entered i t . Joyce echoed those words, "No one forced me to do i t " , as d i d Susan, " I t was r e a l l y a l l from myself", and J ames: Everything I did, I did by myself. There wasn't anyone i n my family as such that worked with e l e c t r o n i c s . There was also a tension between the need to be affirmed i n the choice and the need to have made the choice by oneself. Mary a r t i c u l a t e d t h i s tension as follows: The only doubts I had [about going into business] was because my dad didn't accept i t when I t o l d him I was going into business. He just wasn't going to speak to me. ... I t took a l o t to stand up to my dad and say 'Hey I want to take t h i s . This i s what I'm enroling i n . I'm paying f o r i t . You don't have control over i t . ' ... I obviously 74 wanted i t enough to stand up to something I had never done before and I think that emphasized how much I wanted i t . And i t was, you know a r e l i e f to me once I got i t . But i t was even more of a r e l i e f to me once dad accepted i t and r e a l i z e d that's what I should be. Susan phrased i t more succinctly. In r e l a t i n g a story about a fellow student at Ryerson who was unhappy i n the program he was i n , she states: You know that's your l i f e . No matter what your parents—yeah sure, you want to please them because they are supporting you f i n a n c i a l l y or emotionally, but they're not going to be around for your ent i r e l i f e , and you have to make a decision that you're going to be happy with and that you can l i v e with. Even with very supportive parents, making a career decision presents d i f f i c u l t i e s f or young adults. Surinder spoke highly of her well educated parents and t h e i r desire for t h e i r children also to have a good career. But she continued: My parents never influenced me as to what I want, what I should do. And sometimes I got a l i t t l e f r u s t r a t e d because I didn't get any—they l e f t i t a l l to me. ...Ahm and I sort of wanted some assistance. But no, they l e f t i t a l l up to me. Parental help was not always seen as desirable. B i l l , who f e l t he was pushed into business by h i s parents and h i s school, spoke about what was happening to him and to some of h i s friends who also had experienced a s i m i l a r push. Being pushed into a career 75 d i r e c t i o n was expressed i n terms of feelings of s e l f -doubt . Students that are my age or a l i t t l e younger or a l i t t l e older are f i n a l l y f i n ding out 'Hey maybe t h i s i s not what I want'. I've noticed a l o t of my friends and t h e i r grades have slipped and they're sort of stepping back and become very d i s i l l u s i o n e d 'cause they've always along the way been t o l d 'Yes, y o u ' l l do very well i n t h i s , y o u ' l l be very happy with t h i s ' ; been t o l d but never r e a l l y f e l t . ...Some of them may be strong enough to overcome that and keep on with t h e i r d i r e c t i o n . ...I'm not saying what I di d [change f a c u l t i e s to one that permitted him the f l e x i b i l i t y of courses which he sought] i s r i g h t . Ah, some people could say, well, I gave up on my i n i t i a l d i r e c t i o n . I was too weak. The narrators also described the experience of making a career decision i n terms of self-knowledge. In t h e i r s t o r i e s they became three dimensional persons with a history, with values stemming out of family interactions and with personal resources for achieving t h e i r goals. Susan gave a very complete picture of her childhood and teenage years. Art i s a r e a l l y important thing i n my l i f e . ...I've went to plays overseas, I've gone to art g a l l e r i e s . She [mother] has memberships i n England and i n Ontario, i n Germany. ...And then as we grew up we were always taken to the b a l l e t , always taken to concerts. She's [mother] had memberships to series everywhere, [and] always to ar t g a l l e r i e s . Every country that we went [to] when we go to Europe once or twice a year [we went] to the art g a l l e r i e s . There are so many exhibitions that I've been to. I don't remember, 76 but I suppose somewhere i n the back of my mind i t s t i l l keeps that f e e l i n g going. Wayne revealed himself as a person who understood himself i n terms of h i s goals. Replying to a question on whether hi s future aims were those that h i s parents might have wanted for him, he stated that he didn't think they had a goal i n mind for him and: even i f they did have a goal, I wouldn't r e a l l y want to pursue, even want to know what that goal i s . I t ' s up to me what my goal i s . I t doesn't matter what my parents think my goal should be. A l o t of parents, when a kid's ahm graduating or ahm f i n i s h i n g l i k e t h e i r grade 10, t h e i r parents w i l l come with them and t h e y ' l l both s i t down and t h e y ' l l pick out t h e i r e l e c t i v e s , but I always picked out mine myself. Later i n the interview he continued: I think that career decisions should be pretty obvious. A job l i k e Safeway [he i s employed there on week-ends] i s not a career decision. I t ' s a job. That's i t . ...I think that you should go in[to] expanded f i e l d s . I t ' s obvious you should l i k e go into engineering, you should go into sciences, computer sciences, engineering and e l e c t r o n i c s . James's self-knowledge exhibited i t s e l f i n a genuine appreciation of h i s i n t e r e s t s . Over and over again i n d i f f e r e n t words, he would say: I always s t a r t these l i t t l e projects that s t a r t small and then get fancier. I just get an idea and then just expand i t . I l i k e to work on e l e c t r o n i c s . I get more structured as I go along a c t u a l l y . ...I a c t u a l l y apply a l l the s t u f f I've been messing around with to p r a c t i c a l applications and i t ' s nice being able to do that. Another good thing about engineering i s the whole point of i t i s the d e f i n i t i o n of the faculty, i t ' s c a l l e d applied science. You're applying the s c i e n t i f i c s t u f f to actual practise which i s why I l i k e i t . While they were not able to d e t a i l the job descriptions for the careers that they had chosen to pursue, a l l of the respondents were very a r t i c u l a t e on what they l i k e d or did not l i k e i n work. Surinder stated her needs guite s p e c i f i c a l l y : I didn't want to go into business because i t seems l i k e you know, everyone i s going into business. I thought I wanted to do something d i f f e r e n t . ...I didn't want to do any t y p i c a l jobs, r i g h t . I t ' s l i k e you t e l l someone about my job now, they say •What?• She described the short term hi s t o r y of the program that she i s i n and continued: I t ' s a very open f i e l d [Occupational Health & Safety]. I t ' s not r e s t r i c t e d to...working i n a hospital,...You can work i n a m i l l , department store, a ho s p i t a l , municipality, private industries, j ust about anywhere where there's employees and work and a c t i v i t i e s involved you need a safety o f f i c e r . I l i k e the thing that you can grow, that you can move up the ladder. There were other things that made t h i s course of studies a t t r a c t i v e for Surinder. She wanted something that made her parents happy, and she wanted "a science job; a professional job i n nice surroundings. This gives [her] both." 78 James who was very focused and sure that e l e c t r o n i c engineering would meet hi s needs and in t e r e s t s , seemed also to be p r a c t i c a l i n h i s reasons for choosing that career: I want to enjoy what I do. Like there's no point taking a program that you're not interested i n . My two main things I enjoy are computers and e l e c t r o n i c s . And b a s i c a l l y I want to go to un i v e r s i t y , because, although whether or not i t may be so or not, people tend to regard u n i v e r s i t y degrees on a better standard than they do sort of technology degrees l i k e at B.C.I.T. and s t u f f . They have good programs but people j u s t i n general f e e l u n i v e r s i t y degrees are of higher standard. And l i k e Wayne, James saw el e c t r o n i c s , computers and engineering as the way to ensure a future job. I'm not going to be out of a job i f I graduate with an e l e c t r i c a l degree. That's another reason for doing i t because you don't want to go into a program that's going to be obsolete. While agonizing about the decision seemed to be part of the experiences of a number of narrators, Joyce was able to speak about t h i s most c l e a r l y : I had a tough time a c t u a l l y deciding that [medicine] was what I wanted to do. In t h i s program i n p a r t i c u l a r you have to go through a l o t of loopholes to get to. So I was half sure and I started to do a l l the entrance requirements, put my a p p l i c a t i o n i n and everything else, but to come to the actual decision i t s e l f I went through a l o t of analyzing and finding i f i t would be worth my time and my e f f o r t and I came to the decision i t would. Even when I was f i r s t considering i t , I would say which would be about f i v e years before I 79 entered, i n grade 11, I was always considering the other aspects of i t and whether my personality would be suited for i t . I wasn't assured, as assured of myself. And at the time a l l along I kept working toward i t , the questions became more 'Do I have the time and e f f o r t to do that? Is that what I want my career to be in?' and more decisions about personal happiness than working towards i t [entrance to medical school]....I went through up and down times of indecision. Joyce was also able to verbalize the feelings she had once she had made the decision. Once you get started, the process i s provoked by action and there i s a need to make a decision and a need to act. ...When I had stated that [ career goal] to someone else, i t kind of confirmed i t for myself. . . . I t was such a p o s i t i v e thing when you do s t a r t moving. Having s e t t l e d on a career path seemed to empower the decision makers to face future decisions with some confidence. Joyce continued by speaking about how she would use the s k i l l s she had learned and the s e l f -confidence she had gained that would enable her to make further decisions. I would c e r t a i n l y make big decisions [entering medical school] l i k e that [using a decision model] again, whether I was going to buy a c e r t a i n house or not or something l i k e that. I think when something i s more subjective l i k e when I'm going to marry or guestions such as that, I would use more of a personal basis than that. For large decisions that a f f e c t your l i f e and are not so much on a human basis I c e r t a i n l y would use the same method. It's another good thing that I learned and was encouraged to do was to act. And I think I would encourage other people to do that 80 as well because we can become stuck i n our thoughts and stuck i n our patterns of indecisions... I think i n the preparation i n the decision making process I learned that I can do things. I know that I can pursue things and be active. ...I also did learn a great deal about p r i o r i t i z i n g and how to make decisions and how to express myself. The narrators spoke about the experience of deciding as something that made them d i f f e r e n t from t h e i r peers, many of whom had not yet chosen a career; but they did not think of themselves as s p e c i a l for having done so. Susan observed that many young people made a decision a f t e r leaving high school to take a couple of years o f f , found a job and just stayed there. I think a l o t of people go through ups and downs. I don't think many people are completely focused, and a very small part of the population I'd say i s extremely focused and wants to do something and continue with that s t r a i g h t along. I think people go through a l o t of changes. That's j u s t even from experience from my group of friends. I'm probably the only one that was, (even though I had my ups and downs) I was the only one that was always wanting to do that and focused on s e t t i n g my goal and then reaching i t . Wayne who had "always known" he was going into computers seemed quite pragmatic when he t o l d h i s story on how he came to enrol i n the C.I.S. (computer information systems) program at Kwantlen College: I t ' s s u r p r i s i n g . I would have thought that there would be a l o t of demand for the C.I.S., but there's not r e a l l y that much competition. ...I 81 don't think that there's that much information r e a l l y about C.I.S. program. I don't think that many people know about i t . And I don't think that many people know how easy i t i s to get into these kinds of courses. ...They [young adults] don't know where to get the information. I know that i f I hadn't gone through Maureen I might not have seen the C.I.S. program. In fact, there was a good chance I would've missed i t . The experience of making a career commitment i n young adulthood included the experience of un i v e r s a l i z i n g , that i s , understanding the decision i n a context that extended beyond themselves and beyond the si n g l e s i t u a t i o n . Wayne spoke about h i s re l a t i o n s h i p with friends who were already attending the C.I.S. program; Susan believed that the support of her family kept her focused on her goals, a support not enjoyed by many of her peers; Mary compared her decision to enter into business with her decision to enter into the co-op program; while James saw the re l a t i o n s h i p of making hi s career decision and moving out from home as an extension towards h i s independence. V o l i t i o n This category i s comprised of f i v e theme c l u s t e r s . There i s the r e a l i z a t i o n that choice i s a personal thing, an understanding of what one values as well as 82 the r e a l i z a t i o n that i n t e r n a l and external pressures are part of decision making. There i s r e a l i z a t i o n that the d i f f i c u l t y i n making a career choice often stems from the many d i f f e r e n t choices and the lack of information about them. Other theme c l u s t e r s dealt with perceived needs for guidance and the advice that they would give to t h e i r peers who are also making career choices. And f i n a l l y , one theme c l u s t e r dealt with t h e i r d escription of the career choice that they had made. Career choice i s a personal act. In reading the st o r i e s of the decision makers one i s made aware of the many personal aspects that contribute to a decision: i n d i v i d u a l values, understanding oneself, b e l i e v i n g i n oneself, the degree of awareness that the i n d i v i d u a l has of the pressures and influences exerted on him/her and the manner i n which these pressures are handled as well as the influences as that impact on career choice. Mary spoke about the importance of doing what i s best for oneself: I don't think anybody should be influenced i n any d i r e c t i o n u n t i l that person has looked at a l l the options....You know, I sometimes wonder, I could have missed that opportunity to t o t a l l y take business.... I think you see people i n sciences not doing well and i t ' s not because they can't do 83 well, i t ' s because they don't want to be there. And I think a l o t of people go on when things are wrong and they don't change that. And I think people need some guidance i n there to understand why perhaps they're not doing so well, and not because they're f a i l u r e s i n l i f e but because t h e i r heart i s n ' t i n that. I think everyone has t h e i r areas. I r e a l l y believe that. ...Everybody has t h e i r spot. And I mean t h e i r spot, and not business or science....I don't think you should l i s t e n to the s o c i a l pressures of what the degrees are about. ...I mean people are always going to have t h e i r opinions but I think you should be proud of yours. Susan r e f l e c t e d on the d i f f i c u l t y of making choices about careers because of the s o c i a l pressures for material success which seem to have a strong influence on young people. However she i s uneguivocal about making a career decision for personal f u l f i l m e n t , and not because of s o c i a l expectations: The standard of l i v i n g everyone wants to achieve now days. The young people, everyone, wants to be t h i s and that because they're going to make that kind of money and that's not what i t ' s a l l about. I think i t ' s about personal f u l f i l l m e n t . ...You have to make a decision that you're going to be happy with. Mary echoed t h i s sentiment when she answered my question on what she would want to say to someone else making a career decision. I think you have to believe what you want f i r s t and foremost. I mean there were points when there was other people l i k e dad or somebody [that made me doubt whether I should be doing t h i s ] but I had to answer to myself before I'd answer to anyone 84 else, and I'm driven by what I want not what other people want for me. ...There i s a big difference what and where people expect you to be and where you want to be. There was universal agreement that a career choice had to be made by each person i n d i v i d u a l l y . And while the narrators did not use the vocabulary of "values" or "self-esteem", i t was very clear that that was what they spoke about. They wanted careers that met t h e i r expectations for l i f e s t y l e , and contributed to personal f u l f i l l m e n t and happiness. They recognized the d i f f i c u l t y i n making choices because "There's so much we don't even know about. So many d i f f e r e n t kinds of career and jobs. I think i t ' s r e a l l y d i f f i c u l t " (Susan). But the advice that they would give to t h e i r peers was not to permit others to influence them, to leave opportunities for exploration, and to get i n touch with themselves so that they know what they r e a l l y want. Pressures Exerted by School, Peers, Parents and Others The three categories that are discussed under t h i s heading are "Outside Influences", "The Role of Family" and "The Experience of High-School". 85 1. Outside Influences was comprised of three theme cl u s t e r s : outside influences of a general nature such as finances and location of i n s t i t u t e ; self-imposed or external pressures r e s u l t i n g from demands of people or experience; the impact of important others (not including parents) on the decision to commit to a career program. 2. The Role of the Family included f i v e theme c l u s t e r s : family events, family values, s i b l i n g s , supportive statements made by parents and other family members and non-supportive statements made by parents and other family members. 3. The Experience of High-School included the theme c l u s t e r s of peer pressure, d i r e c t and i n d i r e c t influences exerted on individuals by t h e i r counsellors, teachers, courses or programs, and school career guidance programs. I t was evident from the narrations that young adults perceive pressure from three d i s t i n c t sources: t h e i r parents, t h e i r peers and school (teachers, counsellors, courses). Less evident i n the s t o r i e s were the pressures of a s o c i a l n a t u r e — c o s t of education, expectations for material success, or 86 conforming to s o c i a l class values, although these were discussed i n terms of family or i n terms of peers. B i l l spoke openly about the external pressures he perceived as part of h i s experience i n high school: I think that external pressures guide a person i n high school much more heavily than i n t e r n a l d i r e c t i o n . I think that a l o t of teachers, parents are very worried about what the c h i l d f e e l s inside, where that person, that student wants to go. And by worrying about that, they inadvertently put pressure on to create a d i r e c t i o n within that person. So that creates an external push. P o s i t i v e and negative influences were part of the pressures experienced i n school by v i r t u a l l y a l l narrators. Some of the pressures were subtle while others were less subtle. They came i n the form of supportive or non-supportive teachers or counsellors; others grew out of the courses or programs that i n d i v i d u a l s had been enroled i n . The impressions that the teachers and counsellors made on t h e i r students stood out i n the narratives because they were at the extremes of a continuum. For example, Susan spoke warmly about meeting with her counsellor i n grade 10: I remember s i t t i n g with my counsellor and she said 'When you get to high school there's t h i s course being offered i n grade 12, an i n t e r i o r design course, that you might f i n d i n t e r e s t i n g . And a 87 very good school you should go to would be Ryerson, i f you decide to go on a f t e r high school. Surinder experienced a negative encounter with her counsellor: Personally I went and spoke to a counsellor i n grade 11 and he said that I sort of couldn't do i t [go to u n i v e r s i t y ] . I thought 'You're wrong. ...You're mistaken.' And he goes 'It's gonna be a l o t of work and a l o t of studying.• And I thought 'Well i f that's what you think, r i g h t . You don't know me. I know me. Whether I can do i t or not i s up to me.' So I found counsellors to be no help at all....He was sort of the career counsellor [at the school], but he was very discouraging. He always sort of pointed out the negative things f i r s t . Similar extremes were c i t e d i n r e l a t i o n to teachers. Susan spoke ang r i l y about her high school math teacher: I t was a math teacher with me. He said i f you don't get t h i s t e s t , you may as well forget i t and jus t be a berry picker. That's just the wrong attitude to take. While Joyce spoke glowingly of a Biology teacher: I had one teacher i n p a r t i c u l a r who influenced me a l o t . He was my biology teacher, Mr. B. and he was ac t u a l l y a l o t of a father figure for me because he had very high standards...and he expected in c r e d i b l e amounts from me and I always, always came through because, because of him r e a l l y . Programs and courses were seen i n s i m i l a r extremes as either being a p o s i t i v e experience or a negative one. Early i n the interview, B i l l referred to the 88 impact that the private school he attended had on h i s entering business as a career: I think that molding [business] was mostly due to the f a c t of the private school that I was at. Most of the kids there came from very wealthy f a m i l i e s . I was on a f u l l scholarship, that's the only reason why I was able to afford to go there. But most of the kids there were from wealthy fam i l i e s that were very business oriented. Later he became more intense and s p e c i f i c i n describing the "molding": Starting i n grade 10 we had a career counsellor that would take us i n to do te s t s on computers about aptitude, or written t e s t s too. I t ' s quite intensive a c t u a l l y . I t was almost a course i n i t s e l f . ...Nobody t o l d you should go into t h i s area, but when a computer flashed on the screen that a l l your att r i b u t e s and int e r e s t s l i e i n a desk job, then you're going to go 'Wow, I guess that's what I l i k e . ' ...It's something you can come home with and say 'I'm gonna be t h i s ' and your parents are l i k e (he gasps) 'That's wonderful.' That was the strongest d i r e c t i o n creator i n high school, that course; i n some ways very manipulative. ...And I think that's very bad. For Wayne and Joyce who both took advanced courses i n school, the influence of the courses was more subtle. Wayne said: I took as many enriched courses as I could j u s t for the challenge 'cause I didn't f i n d school r e a l l y that challenging. Within the arena of the school, the pressures of peers were strong. Mary stated: 89 I've learned a l o t since high school. I was a l i t t l e peer pressure person too, you know. I t was l i k e 'Oh my friends are doing that, you do that.* And you don't r e s i s t i n high school. You spend f i v e days a week with the same people and that's your world. And you don't oppose to that. ...I think there's a l o t of influence and the people i n high school...are so confused anyway and they're so used to performing to peer pressure and s t u f f l i k e that, that i t ' s a d i f f i c u l t time for them to make a decision. Susan grew passionate as she spoke about going for her goal while a g i r l f r i e n d gave up completing high school: I think a l o t of people think i f you f a i l once you can't do i t over again. I have a g i r l f r i e n d who hasn't even graduated from high school. I t gets me so upset. I say 'Do i t ! Who cares i f you're 23 and you have to take a high school course. You've got to care. I t ' s for yourself.' . . . I f you're i n high school i t ' s always the peer pressure but you have to overcome that at one point i n your l i f e , and you better do i t soon or you're not getting anywhere. You're stuck. And Wayne speaking of his friends some of whom were already i n C.I.S. program, demonstrated subtle peer pressure: They're mostly l i k e s t r a i g h t 'A' type of people that I hung around with. That's another reason why I took enriched courses. Most of my friends that were there [ i n school] were also i n enriched courses and I l i k e d them. I don't l i k e people who l i k e , goof o f f and that kind of thing. I l i k e people who can understand i t and who can understand what I'm t a l k i n g about. You know, who can understand me. This need to be understood by his peers was echoed by James. James observed how he f e l t as a f i r s t year 90 engineering student: You w i l l f i n d that the majority of engineers do hold the same sort of values i n terms of p o l i t i c a l and s t u f f l i k e that. ...I've talked about t h i s to other people, other engineers, and i t ' s sort of...nice to be able to discuss and everyone sort of agrees with you. Likemindedness i s experienced d i f f e r e n t l y from peer pressure but i s nevertheless a subtle d i r e c t o r of choice. While only Joyce included i n her narrative the remembrance of a family event that she believed contributed to her career development, a l l of the volunteers spoke about family values and statements made by parents as part of t h e i r experience of making t h e i r decision. The narrators d i d not evaluate the statements made by t h e i r parents as supportive or non-supportive, but both those themes became evident i n the reading. Parental influence was very r e a l and very apparent i n a l l of the narratives. Yet one cannot say aft e r examining the s t o r i e s that any one aspect of family influence i s greater than another. Family values were not represented more often i n the s t o r i e s than parental statements and supportive parental statements did not seem to have greater or lesser influence than non-supportive parental statements. 91 B i l l spoke c l e a r l y on the values espoused and practised i n h i s family: My family was very, even though they didn't have a l o t of money, they were very money oriented. I think working hard and making money were a higher p r i o r i t y than doing something for s e l f - f u l f i l m e n t . ...I was interested i n medicine when I was r e a l l y i n grade eight and grade nine. But because my mother was a nurse, she pushed me away from that area, psychologically. She'd come home from work complaining about the doctors, complaining about the hospitals, saying 'This i s t e r r i b l e , t h i s i s t e r r i b l e ' . Even though she l i k e d her career, she ra r e l y said anything good about i t . I think because of that I was pushed away from that area. Later, when I asked him how his mother f e l t about the decision to go into business, B i l l returned to the e a r l i e r theme of working and making money: I think my mom was happy that I was going into [business]. I t ' s kind of d i f f i c u l t for my mom. What my mom holds important i s working hard. As long as you're working f o r t y hours a day and you're making enough money to keep yourself comfortable and eventually keep your family comfortable, then i t r e a l l y doesn't matter what you're doing...[as long as] I was working hard and not making money on the backs of other people. Near the end of the interview, B i l l made a profound statement that demonstrated the degree of influence he f e l t from h i s parents. Discussing what he might do i f he had children he stated: I think the only people I could t r u l y e f f e c t [in terms of career choice] would be my own children. And [I would] t r y early on to keep, to make sure that they have an open mind and never t r y to push 92 them. I probably even subconsciously push them i n the d i r e c t i o n that I'd take because i f I do become successful, when I do become successful, I ' l l probably [be] just l i k e my father and probably ju s t l i k e my mother and end up d r i v i n g and pushing my kids subconsciously i n that same d i r e c t i o n . In examining the supportive statements made by Joyce's parents, we are confronted with a picture of a s i m i l a r l y powerful parental influence on t h i s young woman's career path: Another thing that was very, very important to me was to have something where I would be very independent f i n a n c i a l l y as well as i n the work place where I ... could have my own c r e a t i v i t y , have my own decision making a b i l i t y and my own authority r e a l l y . I think that was something that was d r i l l e d into me from my parents a c t u a l l y because my mother never having a career, she always, from the time when I was very young, encouraged me to have something where I could support myself so that I didn't have to depend on another person. ...So that was always i n s t i l l e d i n me from very young. ...[My father] didn't encourage me so much there but he encouraged the other aspects of i t where you be your own boss, you be i n control of yourself. Joyce continued that her parents did not r e a l l y encourage her s p e c i f i c a l l y to be a doctor as they saw the negative sides of that profession as well, but: that was always kind of my profession. That was my choice, and they always respected that. But they didn't [force me to] think...that or encourage me s p e c i f i c a l l y to be that. ...that's what gave the job aspects that they wanted to give me [ f i n a n c i a l independence and being one's own boss]. That's [ i n medicine] where I found them. 93 Later on i n the interview I asked her how her parents f e l t now that she had ac t u a l l y made i t into medical school. She seemed to sparkle: I think they're quite overjoyed and proud. Really proud. My mother just drives me t o t a l l y crazy because she won't just say I'm a student, even when she's t a l k i n g to the shopping cart boy at Safeway, 'Oh my daughter i s a medical student'. And my father has a great deal of pride but he keeps i t more to himself. He never brags to us but I'm sure he does i t to h i s friends. Janice seemed to experience mixed messages. The o v e r a l l f e e l i n g was not supportive. But the parental presence was very r e a l : My parents, they kinda t o l d me to go that way too, i f that's what I l i k e d because I did take a l l the sciences i n school; kinda said that I had a knack for i t ; kinda encouraging me. They're supportive. They r e a l l y state t h e i r opinion. We have a l o t of c o n f l i c t with that. Arguments. But they're supportive with t h i s . However, l a t e r on when I asked whether she f e l t that her parents might have had a d i f f e r e n t goal i n mind for her she continued: well, they kinda always wanted me to take more business courses l i k e computers and typing and s t u f f l i k e t h a t . . . . i t ' s because my s i s t e r took a l l that. She i s a l e g a l secretary and I guess they thought that was a pretty good occupation. Sometimes my mom says 'Oh i f i t ' s too hard, you can be a l e g a l secretary or something'.... Even when parental presence was a c t i v e l y fought against as i n the case of Wayne, the parental presence was an obvious part of the experience of making the career decision. When asked how he thought h i s parents f e l t about h i s decision to enter the C.I.S. program, Wayne stated: They're happy with i t . Not much else. Like they didn't take me out to dinner or anything, but they're happy about i t . Then he seemed to almost defend himself on why he did not wish to i n v i t e h i s parents' ideas even for purposes of discussing h i s career goal: I j u s t didn't want any help from my parents. I want those decisions up to me. I didn't r e a l l y want the guidance. If I was going to do i t , I was going to do i t by myself. I t became quite clear i n reading the s t o r i e s that the narrators were able to express what had been h e l p f u l and what had been lacking for them as they made t h e i r decisions. The experience was worded i n terms of the support they received and the support that they, i n retrospect, would have benefitted by. What was not h e l p f u l was directiveness that did not allow for experimentation; whether directiveness came i n the form of career counselling, parental statements or educational planning. What was needed was the chance 95 to t r y out d i f f e r e n t things and opportunities to speak to people i n various career f i e l d s . B i l l believed that the in t e n s i t y of the career guidance he received as part of h i s high school experience was too d i r e c t i v e and even manipulative. Mary who decided i n grade 11 that i f she didn't l i k e the sciences by then, she should change her options, found both her parents and her counsellor non-supportive of her desire to explore other options: I decided i n my grade 12, I think I had ...four e l e c t i v e s (what they were t r y i n g to get me to do was Biology 11, Biology 12, Physics 12 and Chemistry 12. That was o r i g i n a l l y set out for me [by] the counsellors and my parents)...I took Chemistry 12 and Biology 11 and then I took my accounting and my marketing, and I decided I was going to do that for me. ...Anybody who i s decent student i s n ' t r e a l l y given the e l e c t i v e s , . . . so I think i t would be nice to see i n the high school people not being always considered stupid and not an i n t e l l i g e n t academic person i f you didn't take a l l your sciences. What Joyce found h e l p f u l was learning how to p r i o r i t i z e her i n t e r e s t s and needs: I would suggest to someone making big decisions and who are unsure about what they want, i s to write down what they want and to l i s t them i n order and to see what they do want, and then write down the careers they think would s a t i s f y that and go through them systematically. I did that a c t u a l l y under the guidance of someone who taught me and i t r e a l l y helped. For Susan working i n related f i e l d s and t a l k i n g to 96 people was most e f f e c t i v e : Talk to, maybe work i n the work force or get involved with something that i s s i m i l a r to what they [young people who are thinking about a career choice] want. ...I think i t has to be personal. ...I think i t r e a l l y has to do with just t a l k i n g ; a l o t of contact with people i n the area. [It's] worth going and exploring i t yourself. Surinder echoed the idea of t a l k i n g to people and working i n the work force to get ideas on what one wants to do: I think the only thing that can help you i s i f you go out into the work force and you see. Well, suppose you wanted to be a doctor or something, you should go out and see what they do for two or three days or even more i f you've got the chance and that's the only way you're going to f i n d out i f you r e a l l y l i k e i t . When I asked Wayne how he might have helped someone come to a decision, he was, at f i r s t , very adamant about not making decisions for anyone; that i t was very personal and needed to be made on a personal l e v e l . Then he went on: F i r s t I'd ask him his interests and then I'd ask him h i s educational hi s t o r y and I'd ask him of course h i s dreams and s t u f f l i k e that and get him t a l k i n g . Talk about himself. ...And t r y to help generate ideas through that. I t ' s always ideas. You give them ideas and there's going to be something that's gonna pop up that they're going to see and that they're going to l i k e . Over and over the respondents seemed to make statements that indicated that they were not served by people 97 giv i n g d i r e c t i o n s , but would have been served by people helping them seek d i r e c t i o n . People, not a program, not a computer was what was desired. In replying to the question on whether they had received career planning help i n high school, a l l but Wayne and James had, and without exception the major t o o l had been a computer program which none of them r e a l l y r e l a t e d to. Joyce described her career guidance: I did a l i t t l e Choice [CHOICES] Career booklet that didn't help me at a l l . A ctually I did those i n grade 10 I think. And I got funeral d i r e c t o r which was on everybody's and I a c t u a l l y found with the choices i t gave me i t didn't, I didn't f i n d i t h e l p f u l at a l l . In some ways at that point i n time a s p e c i a l person rather than an instrument of some kind would r e a l l y have been more i n f l u e n t i a l I think. Mary echoed the experience: I took the CHOICES program and i t was m i l l i o n s of choices 'cause I had the grades. I did that i n grade 10. Other than that, no I never did get help of any kind. Surinder too experienced the CHOICES program: In high school we had some CHOICES program. I didn't l i k e the outcome of i t . I thought t h i s thing just doesn't know what I'm about. And B i l l spoke vehemently against the program: They had a computer program. I think i t gives them [students] way too much d i r e c t i o n . At that age you're t r y i n g to grasp at anything you can get a hold of. 98 In examining the statements made by these young people, the observation can be made that the type of career guidance that was experienced by them was at best unsatisfactory to t h e i r needs and at worst a l i e n a t i n g . I t seems that Sloan's (1986) c r i t i c i s m of computerized counselling i s validated by the narrators i n t h i s study who had experienced t h i s method of career counselling. The Experience of Applying and Being Accepted This section deals with two categories: "Applying to the Program" and "Feelings and Issues about Being Accepted". 1. Applying to the Program was made up of two theme cl u s t e r s , one describing the hurdles that i n d i v i d u a l s had to overcome i n order to enter the program; and two, the fears that they experienced i n applying and waiting for acceptance to t h e i r program. 2. Feelings and Issues about Being Accepted was made up of three theme clust e r s that included descriptions of the narrators' respective programs, the feelin g s experienced by t h e i r p o s i t i v e outcomes and other issues surrounding being accepted. 99 Part of the experience of making the decision was t i e d to making application to the career program and waiting to be accepted. For a number of the narrators t h i s meant overcoming the hurdles set by the d i f f e r e n t i n s t i t u t i o n s to ensure that c e r t a i n c r i t e r i a were met for entrance to a program. Joyce had to meet the r i g o r s of the admission c r i t e r i a of the medical f a c u l t y at U.B.C, Mary faced the f i e r c e competition to enter the Business f a c u l t y at S.F.U., Surinder had to overcome the bias against her age for the program of her choice at B.C.I.T.1, Susan was forced to upgrade her marks and her p o r t f o l i o to enter Ryerson and Janice had to endure the long waiting l i s t s for students wishing to enter the nursing program at Douglas College. They were able to describe the r e s t r i c t i o n s *Surrinder: There's only li m i t e d enrolment into the program and they're a l l mature students, even though the book [course calendar] says you need only grade 12. But everyone's got more than grade 12; they've a l l got t h e i r Bachelor of Science already. ... And I said "Well, you know, I can't see what the problem i s . Why aren't I being accepted into the program?" He [department head] said "Because of your age." Interviewer: Age? Surrinder: Yeah, I'm the youngest i n the c l a s s . The age i n there i s much older. 100 to t h e i r respective programs and seemed accepting of what needed to be done i n order to enter. What was found to be f r u s t r a t i n g to various i n d i v i d u a l s was those times or those instances when they experienced opposition to being accepted that was outside of t h e i r perceived a b i l i t y to do anything about. For example, when Susan was faced with needing to upgrade her high school marks i n order to enter Ryerson, she went ahead and d i d i t . When she was placed on a waiting l i s t following her interview, she f e l t anxious and at loose ends: I j u s t don't r e a l l y know where I'm going to go i f I don't get accepted, where I could take a f i n e arts program i f I should [pause] I had an o f f e r to go to Germany and we know a man who could get me a part time apprenticeship type job with i n t e r i o r design. I have that option but I r e a l l y would l i k e to stay i n school. ...There were 700 applicants, 240 people were chosen from the 700 applicants to be interviewed. And then some 60 are chosen from the 240, so I already considered myself quite fortunate to have a spot on the waiting l i s t . I stand a f a i r l y good chance to get i n . The lady who heads the department [said] that I would most l i k e l y have [gotten in] i f I worked on my p o r t f o l i o . ...So I'm, quite confident I would [get in] next year but I would just l i k e to get on with i t now. I'm just r e a l l y , r e a l l y prepared. James, who had completed h i s f i r s t year engineering was now waiting to get into the spe c i a l t y area of h i s choice. He was f e e l i n g very vulnerable 101 because of the r i g i d c r i t e r i a set by the engineering f a c u l t y : The whole thing seems to be geared on t r y i n g to get r i d of people. That's the most un s e t t l i n g thing. ...It's u n s e t t l i n g because you're not sure what to do. You're not used to being t r y i n g to get r i d of, you're used to being i n a course where people want you i n the course because you're used to getting high marks. ...And l i k e r i g h t now I'm s i t t i n g . I passed O.K. I've been admitted into second year etcetera. ...Now some programs are more popular than others. Some have less space than others because of f a c i l i t i e s etcetera. ... I t ' s a question of how popular i t [ e l e c t r i c a l ] i s t h i s year, how much space they have. [I won't know] ' t i l l the end of t h i s week [whether I've been accepted]. Now I'm not interested i n anything other than e l e c t r i c a l . That's the whole point I went into U.B.C. engineering was to take e l e c t r i c a l . Frustrations such as those quoted above were experienced by a l l the respondents with the exception of Wayne who expressed surprise on how easy i t was to get into the program of his choice; probably because, as he stated, few people seemed to know about that program. On the whole, the experience of committing to a career program brings with i t elements of personal d i s t r e s s that seems to be rooted i n that part of the process where the in d i v i d u a l i s unable to exert any personal influence or power and where the outcome of the process has d i r e c t impact on the i n d i v i d u a l . 102 The experience of applying and waiting to be accepted to the career program of choice was framed i n terms that spoke of facing personal fears. Acceptance was framed i n terms of personal v a l i d a t i o n . Individual fears varied. For some of the young adults the fears were rel a t e d to issues of s e l f worth; while for others the fears were not knowing what they might do i f they were not accepted. S t i l l other individuals were concerned with work, leaving family and generally t r y i n g to make ends meet f i n a n c i a l l y . Both Susan and Joyce expressed feelings of personal doubt and inadequacy. Susan stated: I didn't apply for the school [when she v i s i t e d Ryerson i n grade 12] because one of the ladies i n admission t o l d me that I would have to have stra i g h t B's i n my grade 12 courses. ...I wish now that she would have not said that because I was so scared. I should have just applied and perhaps I would have gotten my interview and would not have been accepted but at least I would have had that extra year to put together a better p o r t f o l i o . But then I didn't have enough confidence i n myself. Joyce also seemed to fear applying: I think c e r t a i n l y with t h i s [the application] i n p a r t i c u l a r there was a l o t of fear. Fear that I wouldn't be accepted. Fear that I would be a f a i l u r e , because i t ' s such a competitive program and i t i s such a huge thing to go for . And always I was f i g h t i n g with, I think, a sense of inadequacy because i t 1 s a very i n t r i c a t e a p p l i c a t i o n form. ...You have to f i n d three 103 people to write about you that are professionals, that are people who know you and care about you. ...It ' s a big step of believing i n yourself. I think I was hiding an inadequacy f e e l i n g the whole time. In s p i t e of Mary taking the precaution of applying a year before she needed to, she feared the competition to enter commerce. On the heels of the f i r s t r i s k , Mary took a second r i s k and applied to enter the co-op program. The fear of r e j e c t i o n i t seems was not ameliorated by an e a r l i e r success. Mary described her waiting time as follows: There was another stress. I t ' s l i k e 'Why did I even put myself through the stress of not getting in?' Like with school I don't have that much problem with stress. ... but then you have to s t a r t applying for the jobs. And I'd apply for the jobs and I never got any interviews or anything. ...I went through a l o t of stress going •I'm not going to get a job. What am I going to do t h i s summer now?' sort of thing. Because I'd f i n a l l y committed to t h i s program and I wasn't getting any r e s u l t s and I was l i k e 'Oh maybe t h i s was the wrong decision.'...I was just doubting my decision greatly. James framed h i s fear i n words of f e e l i n g trapped: If I do not get into e l e c t r i c a l then ...I don't r e a l l y have any choice. Like I got into a twenty minute argument with [the secretary] i n the Dean's o f f i c e . They won't l e t you retake f i r s t year courses, [and]...if you do not choose a program as i n c i v i l , e l e c t r i c a l , etcetera, you are no longer i n the faculty. Now you cannot take some just general courses [to] stay i n the fac u l t y . You can take second year science courses but there's no guarantee y o u ' l l get i n [to the 104 engineering program of your choice] i n the following year. There's nothing re l a t e d to e l e c t r i c a l that you could r e a l l y transfer to without loosing a year. So b a s i c a l l y I'm no better o f f than the people that f a i l now. Janice's fears were related to her f i n a n c i a l s i t u a t i o n : Once I s t a r t t h i s program I can't work at a l l because i t ' s too d i f f i c u l t , about 35 hours a week I'm going to be there. You have pr a c t i c e at the h o s p i t a l too. So I'm going to have to quit work altogether. ...I l i v e with my parents and everything, but I don't want to always have to ask them for money. It's going to be hard because money's pretty t i g h t . Acceptance to the program of choice was framed i n terms of personal s a t i s f a c t i o n and affirmation of s e l f . Janice spoke with pride: I f e e l good about my choice. I know i t ' s r e a l l y f u l f i l l i n g . I ' l l help people and take a l o t of joy a c t u a l l y helping people that are hurt; and you can a c t u a l l y see the r e s u l t s , and that's what I l i k e about i t . ...I was glad I made t h i s decision 'cause I know what I'm going to be doing i n a few years. For B i l l the decision to switch f a c u l t i e s i n order to pursue h i s career goal was framed i n words of s e l f -respect: I think that I'm not as scared of f a i l u r e as I used to be 'cause I did so badly l a s t year. I brushed very close with complete f a i l u r e . And I think i t was good for me because I learned that there i s going to be times when I'm gonna f a i l and I'm never going to be able to do what I want i f I'm always shying away from things from fear of f a i l u r e . 105 For Mary, being accepted was framed i n terms of excitement about being able to get on with her l i f e instead of worrying about her career: I was elated. I never had such a moment of joy i n my l i f e as when I got that l e t t e r . I was running around the house y e l l i n g out loud, singing. That r e a l l y reaffirmed how I was f e e l i n g , that [medicine] r e a l l y was what I wanted to do. ...I t ' s almost as i f I know now that I'm i n , I know for the next f o r t y years I w i l l be a f a i r l y busy person. And i t ' s going to s t a r t r i g h t now. And I'm young—I'm twenty-one—and I want to s t a r t experiencing my l i f e as I want to l i v e i t now because I can't any longer [say], and I have for a number of years said 'Well I ' l l s t a r t i t then, when I have t h i s • , because I put so much energy into the career aspect of things. And now I r e a l i z e that I ' l l never do i t i f I don't do i t now. And i t ' s given me an in c r e d i b l e f e e l i n g of action and of a b i l i t y and of l i k e j u st throwing off my old lethargic s e l f and i t ' s an amazing, wonderful, freeing f e e l i n g to be doing what you want. This sense of happiness, of freedom to do what one wants was repeated over and over again. Susan spoke of being cl e a r and dedicated now that she was i n the program and proved to herself that she could be successful at Ryerson. Mary talked of having shown more determination than a l o t of other people she knows and being happy i n her program. And James spoke glowingly about being able to now prove that he could do i t as the courses he would be taking i n h i s second 106 year were the courses that had o r i g i n a l l y lead him to hi s f i e l d of studies. The experience of acceptance i t seemed was an affirmation of the i n d i v i d u a l — t h a t they r e a l l y knew better than anyone else (as Surinder might have said i t ) what they were able to do; and to be recognized for that i s to gain a sense of freedom which was not there before. Self Talk. Other Decisions, Observations about Others  and Thoughts about the Future The discussion i n t h i s section arises from four categories: "Self Talk", "Other Decisions", "Observations about Others" and "Thoughts about the Future". 1. Self Talk i s comprised of three theme cl u s t e r s that include discussions of inner c o n f l i c t s , f e e l i n g s of success and periods of doubt. 2. Other Decisions i s made up of two theme cl u s t e r s that seem to run p a r a l l e l to the major decision of making a career program commitment. One theme deals with the need to get on with what they have chosen to do and to get on with t h e i r respective l i v e s ; the second theme deals with a growing awareness of 107 other issues i n t h e i r l i f e which they may or many not be prepared to deal with at t h i s time. 3. Observations about Others i s a single theme cl u s t e r that contained observations about the narrators 1 peers and how the peers seemed to be handling career decision making. 4. Thoughts about the Future i s made up of two themes that are almost bi-polar i n meaning. One theme deals with an awareness that there i s an end i n sight; the other with the awareness of the many unknowns about the future that give r i s e to feelings of ambiguity and fear as well as hopes and dreams. In the context of s e l f t a l k and observations about others i t was possible to further understand what the meaning of the experience of making a career decision was f o r these young adults. The secondary decisions and future plans enabled me to better understand the context of the decision. As the narrators spoke about t h e i r friends i t became apparent that many of them had not yet made a decision for a career. In some way, these young people•s experience seemed unique to me i n comparison to what they said t h e i r friends were experiencing. 108 Nevertheless, they themselves did not consider themselves very d i f f e r e n t from t h e i r friends. Surinder spoke at some length about the peers she graduated with: ...there, high school, everyone, a l l the people, well my graduating class, I spoke to them as well. •I'm going to U.B.C.1, 'I'm going to U. Vic or McGill', 'Do such and such, be such and such*. Never r e a l l y happened. I was r e a l l y quite surprised, 'cause they a l l had such high expectations of themselves, to do such and such or things. But I'm r e a l l y surprised at the amount of people that I heard from. If I meet someone, a fr i e n d , I meet and they're not doing anything. And I was r e a l l y shocked. I thought 'How can you do that? How are you going to support yourself when you get older? How are you going to l i v e ? • I'm r e a l l y surprised and I don't say that to them, but I say that to my mind. You know, without an education, how're you going to get a good paying job?...They used to say that a quarter go to post secondary education and I thought 'My graduating class there's more than a quarter' but a c t u a l l y i t did turn out to be that much. Joyce made some observations about her peers which seem to summarize some of the statements and observations made by the other narrators: I f i n d people my own age, I would say the majority are avoiding i t [making a decision]. And they r e a l l y don't have the tools and the know how and the motivation within themselves to do i t . And maybe they get moved on from a l o t of external motivation, forces which—I mean parents aren't going to make t h e i r career decisions for them any more which i s r e a l l y quite good. I know very few people my age group that have made the decision making process, gone through the agony of that. Certainly my s i s t e r has and my g i r l f r i e n d i n medical school and so I do see others that do, but 109 I f i n d a l o t of them are postponing i t and just t r y i n g to l i v e a carefree l i f e s t i l l without making i t . ...Thinking that l i f e w i l l j u st happen for them; they don't have to act to influence i t . And I often get comments from people going 'Wow, how did you do that? You know you're so motivated. Why, what do you do?' And I have no answer for them because I don't think I'm exceptionally motivated. ...For some of them, and I look at my two very best g i r l f r i e n d s , I think they have security i n other things. In themselves. In t h i s statement are r e f l e c t e d the observations of Wayne fo r whom working at "Safeway" was not a career decision; of Mary who understood the influence of peer pressure; and of Susan who observed the sway of s o c i a l pressure on her peers. I t r e f l e c t s B i l l ' s observations that external pressures were f a r more powerful than i n t e r n a l pressures during the formative teen years but that i n early adulthood people become d i s i l l u s i o n e d with what others had picked out for them and d r i f t , hoping to f i n d something that they can do. I t seems, that while making a career decision i s i n d i v i d u a l , i t also i s an experience that can be avoided. Judging by the observations of these young adults, perhaps more young people simply d r i f t into an occupation, a job, a career, than a c t i v e l y making a career decision. As part of the narration, the i n d i v i d u a l respondents from time to time d r i f t e d into personal 110 musings which I have put under the category of 'Self Talk'. This category d i f f e r s from "The Self i n the Decision" because i t deals with statements that reveal the character of the i n d i v i d u a l as opposed to statements that revealed the nature of the experience. For Joyce and B i l l the musings included some past regrets. Joyce believed that i f she were to r e l i v e her school years she would not choose the International Baccalaureate program again. Those two years could have been spent having a l o t of joy and fun you have i n those teenage years. This sentence allowed me to understand the depth of freedom she had f e l t once she had been accepted into the medical program. For B i l l the regret came i n the form of not experimenting more i n high school; permitting himself to focus h i s courses too early i n l i f e : I look at i t now and I'm taking courses that are completely unrelated to business and i t doesn't r e a l l y matter. I t just sort of broadens your mind. So i n retrospect I wish I did take those courses and maybe I would have taken a d i f f e r e n t d i r e c t i o n . Janice's s e l f t a l k was centered on her f i n a l l y getting accepted to nursing. I t seemed to give her a sense of I l l accomplishment that the courses she had taken i n the meantime did not: I've learned that when I want something I t r y to go out and get i t ; when I s t a r t something I t r y to f i n i s h i s . I'm persistent. I don't l i k e to give up. Like i f you don't do things the f i r s t time out, do i t over. [I feel] pretty strong about myself. I don't l i k e changing my mind a l o t with things l i k e that just because I l i k e to think about i t before s t a r t i n g out. So I'm decided. Wayne's r e f l e c t i o n s enabled me to enter into the world of t h i s young man at a l e v e l that my questions were unable to access. Following the question on whether he saw himself pursuing h i s career i n computers for the r e s t of his l i f e , Wayne added that h i s dream was to become a writer: What I want to do i s to become a writer, j u s t l i k e part time, and t r y and do that because I do l i k e writing. That i s my dream r i g h t there. Being a computer programmer i s n ' t my dream, i t ' s not a dream, i t ' s a probable r e a l i t y . I t ' s the bread and butter. ...Writing i s that of a romanticist while computers i s that of a r e a l i s t . And t h i s i s a realism world. Writers are dime a dozen you know, they don't always make i t . When you look at some of the occupations that many writers have had, i t ' s — l i k e the l a s t author I was reading, Terry Brooks, he's the accountant. ... I think writers should always have a back up career, computers i s what I picked. Later i n the interview he made observations on how he learned and what was important to him i n learning. I t re l a t e d somewhat to Joyce's comment that some people 112 have other things that give them security: As long as I have the knowledge I know that I'm f i n e . ...I guess i n a way you can c a l l i t confidence but I don't r e a l l y have d r i v i n g confident force. ...I have a drive to succeed for other reasons, other than confidence. ...I l i k e knowledge. The a c q u i s i t i o n of knowledge i s enjoyable. ...Other things I suppose a r e — l i k e I have a r e a l l y good imagination. I think about l i f e as a whole. I'm not r e l i g i o u s but I'm not an athe i s t either. Wayne went on to t a l k about hi s feelings about l i f e , h i s fears of death of awareness as opposed to death of body and how he makes decisions. In some respects Wayne's story highlighted the personal c h a r a c t e r i s t i c s which were less evident i n some of the other narratives but which contributed to the decision that these young people came to. For B i l l i t was to r e a l i z e i n t e l l i n g h i s story that he had s t r i v e n to please h i s father; for Surinder i t was understanding the obligations placed on her by her family to 'be something'; for Mary i t was the strong t i e s to her father and for James the need to be understood. The experience of career decision making seems to go to the very root of what the i n d i v i d u a l i s , what he or she thinks of s e l f and how the s e l f i s perceived i n re l a t i o n s h i p to people and environment. Perhaps that i s why i t i s d i f f i c u l t to make that decision i n early 113 adulthood. I t seems that the hurdles that many of these young people had to overcome to get into the program of t h e i r choice would put t h e i r very s e l f on the l i n e , open to acceptance or to r e j e c t i o n . As Sloan (1986) noted, most decisions are not made in i s o l a t i o n but concurrent with other decisions i n one's l i f e . A number of the narrators i n t h i s study spoke of other decisions that they had made or were making concurrently with t h e i r career decision. Most of these secondary decisions related to moving away from home. For Joyce t h i s decision was compounded by family issues which she was able to describe i n some d e t a i l : I knew i f I got accepted [to medical school that] I wanted to move out. I had l i v e d with my parents through the f i r s t two years of un i v e r s i t y and my parents separated and I continued l i v i n g with my mom i n the t h i r d year. And i n that t h i r d year I was a great support to her and I was hesitant about leaving that s i t u a t i o n because she r e l i e d a great deal upon me for her support. And i t ' s almost f i g h t i n g with your i n d i v i d u a l happiness of what you want and your 'obligation and r e s p o n s i b i l i t i e s ' to quote society...And when I did get accepted I had a very short time to f i n d a place because I found out two weeks before s t a r t i n g and the housing market i n Vancouver was such a fearsome thing at that time. I was worried about getting a place....In retrospect I don't think I r e a l l y talked i t out with [mother]. I [had] made a closed decision p r i o r that i f I was accepted I was d e f i n i t e l y moving. And I rather just stated i t than discussed it...And s e c r e t l y 114 ...inside, I r e a l l y did want to reapply myself and s t a r t to experience my own autonomy, my own i n d i v i d u a l i t y , my own personality, my own place. B i l l moved out during his f i r s t year as well, but h i s concern was more i n the area of finance: Moving out of the house was a big decision. Deciding i f I could balance making enough money to get me through without jeopardizing the courses or the time I put into school. But I did do that and so f a r i t has worked out. Finance was the reason Mary and Janice did not move out and why James chose to commute and work. Surinder's decisions were i n the sphere of balancing her autonomy with the demands made on her by her extended family: I guess everyone sort of wants t h e i r children to be better than others, but I don't see why people have to compete a l o t of the time. I don't think competition i s necessary. I think everyone's d i f f e r e n t and not everyone i s going to have the same idea and same concepts; the same career choices. ...You can explain to your parents but you can't explain i t to everyone. No I don't think [trying to explain her choice i s ] worth i t because they s t i l l compete. Other decisions seemed to be more i n the realm of f i l l i n g i n the time between having made application and receiving word of acceptance. Janice spoke of the f r u s t r a t i o n she f e l t waiting to be accepted. After completing the required f i r s t a i d and C.P.R. courses, she chose to take courses at Douglas College: 115 I was frustrated because the f i r s t year I was at Douglas College I couldn't take any biology courses. I t was my f i r s t year and my student number was very high. Hopefully I can get some t h i s semester before I s t a r t , but I just couldn't take anything very much i n that d i r e c t i o n . . . I took things that r e a l l y had nothing to do with [nursing], I took human geography and...I don't remember what i t ' s c a l l e d and p o l i t i c a l science. There's things I learned i n there but I couldn't get any biology courses. Janice also decided to volunteer at the l o c a l h o s p i t a l i n order to gain some insights into h o s p i t a l routine. Susan spent her time waiting by exploring alte r n a t i v e s i n the event that she was not accepted. While she was unhappy with her s i t u a t i o n i n i t i a l l y : I would just l i k e to get on with i t now. I'm r e a l l y prepared and I've taken these years o f f now and I•ve matured she also was unhappy just continuing to work as a salesperson i f she had to wait another year. Joyce too was engaged i n exploring a l t e r n a t i v e decisions should she not have been accepted to medical school. She spent her summer making "decisions about personal happiness" which included having a contingency plan so that she did not f e e l so much at the mercy of the medical school personnel: There are always people who are better [academically]. As time went on I act u a l l y progressed and I didn't make i t [medicine] my only thing. And I think that's much healthier attitude than to put a l l your worth or a l l your occupational worth on one career.... I had my altern a t i v e s set and I was w i l l i n g to accept i t . ...My al t e r n a t i v e was teaching...that would give me the same things that I wanted i n being a doctor but i n some less degree and d i f f e r e n t aspects. But i t was my second choice. I think I would s t i l l do i t i f I dropped out [of medical school] now. The experience of committing to a program of studies leading to a career seems to be made i n conjunction with decisions that r e l a t e to acquiring personal independence. Whether these decisions were about moving out, asserting oneself i n the family, taking r e s p o n s i b i l i t y f or f i n a n c i a l decisions or increasing personal s k i l l s and s e l f worth, the narratives suggest that a career decision i s part of the developmental process of early adulthood (Dudley & Tiedeman, 1977). I t has already been noted that the young adults interviewed were vague i n describing the jobs that they would have at the conclusion of t h e i r respective courses of studies. The responses to the guestion regarding future hopes and dreams permitted me to understand why t h i s was so. I t appears that young adults do not perceive t h e i r present choice as the end of career development. This conforms to statements by 117 f u t u r i s t s such as T o f f l e r (1980) who note that people can expect to change careers four or f i v e times i n t h e i r l i f e t i m e . For example, B i l l on several occasions during the interview spoke about going back to school: I need to work two or three years before I go back for my M.B.A. I've considered teaching f o r a year, considered working for the government, I considered going into a business firm. Those three years are r e a l l y not that important to me other than for getting some experience under my bel t to bring to the school for my M.B.A. and then launch myself from my M.B.A. into something. ... I've considered Law i n the long term possibly. As far as the government i s concerned I don't want to be involved i n the business side of government as far as bureaucracy; i f I do go into government i t w i l l be p o l i t i c a l l y . . . but I think that w i l l have to be a jump taken from a business career a f t e r I have established myself, made contacts, and gone in that d i r e c t i o n f i r s t . James stated that he would be interested i n doing some teaching i n terms of computers but also work i n a firm and possibly at some point enter into a business of h i s own. Wayne's future hopes are to become a writer. Janice wanted a career not only to help people, but also to meet her goal to t r a v e l and to permit her to do other things i f she found that she did not wish to do nursing for the res t of her l i f e . Over and over again, i n the narrations, the evidence points to an understanding that t h i s i s not a once-in-a-life-time career decision; nor a decision defined by persons 118 outside of themselves. One gets a very strong sense that these young persons are planning to define t h e i r own job r o l e s and are open to redefining those r o l e s i n the future. Mary stated t h i s most succ i n c t l y : I j u s t got goals to get my degree and then s t a r t getting some experience. And I think once I get out there then that's when I ' l l be able to make my decision where I want to be. I t ' s hard when you're i n school because [work i s ] very d i f f e r e n t from your text book learning. I can't say [administration] i s for sure what I want to do because I've never done i t , and you know I might not enjoy i t . I mean i f I enjoy something I put my drive into i t and I ' l l succeed at i t , and i f I don't enjoy i t , getting up to go to work i n the morning wouldn't be fun and I r e a l l y want to go i n there and do something with [my business degree]. Statements about the future were framed i n terms that intimated some ambiguity. Mary's optimism about getting out and doing something with her degree i s l a t e r tempered with an observation: I'm not sure what the outcome of business i s or what I'm going to do with my future, [what area of management, etc.] but as long as I put i n every e f f o r t I thought I put into i t , then I'm s a t i s f i e d with i t . We have no way of predicting what's going to happen. Surinder was even more tentative: I don't know what the future holds. ...It's hard to compete out here you know—everyone older, more experienced, more educated. And when you're ethnic too, and you're f e m a l e — i t ' s always a male dominated f i e l d . But continues with the optimism that stems from 119 knowing herself and how far she has come: I think I need the experience and I'm not the kind of person who can just s i t at home watching soap operas. Once you've got your education you might as well use i t . So I plan to. Hopefully I would l i k e to f i n d a job [in my f i e l d ] as soon as possible when I graduate. And she f i n i s h e s t h i s part of the interview on a mischievous note: "I want to get my BMW before I'm 25." Summary In reading the narratives we can state that the experience of career decision making i n young adulthood as evidenced by a commitment to a career program i n a post secondary i n s t i t u t i o n i s i n d i v i d u a l i s t i c , autonomous and freeing. While i t appears to be part of the developmental task of young adults, i t i s not always a task that the in d i v i d u a l chooses to engage i n . On the contrary, judging from the s t o r i e s i t i s possible to say that many young adults avoid facing that task and choose instead to d r i f t towards something which w i l l r e s u l t i n employment or a career. For the young adults interviewed i n t h i s study who had a c t i v e l y made a choice, the experience extended beyond simply choosing a career, into other areas of t h e i r l i v e s . They stated t h e i r experiences i n terms 120 that included such metaphors, adjectives and analogies as "molding", "only path", "stumbling block", "gearing for i t " , " i t f e l t r i g h t " , "never have gone of f track", "a goal", "on target" to describe t h e i r i n d i v i d u a l paths that lead to t h e i r decision. They affirmed t h e i r uniqueness i n such terms as " r i s i n g to a challenge", "I have that drive to succeed", "a firm grasp", "messed around on my own", "a d i f f e r e n t f e e l i n g " , or " r e a l l y good foot i n the door". When they were accepted to the program of t h e i r choice i t seemed to lead to an inner freedom, a growth i n confidence and self-worth that was expressed by such phrases as "a very open f i e l d " , "then you could breathe and go on with your l i f e " , "throwing of f my old lethargic s e l f " , "not a f r a i d of f a i l u r e " and so on. There did not seem to be a d e f i n i t e beginning to the decision; nor was the decision to commit to a career program seen as the end of the decision. For each of the young adults interviewed, the decision was an unfolding of a yet nebulous future d i r e c t i o n . They believed that they had made a choice for a f i e l d that would give them the best options i n terms of s e l f -f u l f i l l m e n t and future opportunities, but they spoke i n 121 broad and sweeping terms that seemed to suggest that they were w i l l i n g to wait and see what they would do with t h e i r opportunities as they presented themselves upon graduation from t h e i r respective programs. One did not get a sense of a reluctance to meet the future, but rather of confidence that they could meet the various challenges i n l i f e now that they had made t h i s i n i t i a l decision. The f e e l i n g was one of empowerment. Much of the meaning of the experience became clear by examining how i t was framed. There was evidence that parents and school were very important. For most of the respondents, senior high school seemed to awaken them to the need to begin making a decision. They expressed t h i s awakening by describing t h e i r experience with teachers, counsellors and career guidance i n p o s i t i v e or negative terms. The same can be said of the influence of parents. The presence of parents i n the career decision was a very important part of the experience even though the narrators spoke about making t h e i r own career decision. The s t o r i e s contained many references to parents, including family values and p o s i t i v e and negative statements made about careers i n 122 general or s p e c i f i c a l l y about careers that the son or daughter had chosen to pursue. There were other statements that also defined the experience of deciding on a career. A major part of the frame included statements of self-knowledge. I t seemed that these young people were not just aware of t h e i r strengths and weaknesses but were able to verbalize them. For B i l l , Mary and Joyce, t e l l i n g t h e i r story lead to a deeper understanding of t h e i r reasons for being where they were. Self-knowledge was also demonstrated i n the narrators discussions of t h e i r personal goals, t h e i r i n t e r e s t s , needs, aspirations and career f u l f i l l m e n t . The knowledge was clothed i n pragmatism, i n emotion and analogy. Self-knowledge was evident by the way they were able to discuss t h e i r own hi s t o r y and i n the way they were able to look at t h e i r peers and make comparisons between themselves and t h e i r peers. They saw the r e s u l t s of not deciding as d r i f t i n g into something, being open to s o c i a l pressures and finding f u l f i l l m e n t i n other areas of l i f e . They stated that non-decision was often the r e s u l t of lack of information, not knowing the options, peer pressure or 123 lack of focus. They did not claim to be virtuous i n these things but saw t h e i r career decision on a broader scale that involved other people and luck as well as hard work. Career decision making i n young adulthood i s more than j u s t making a decision for a future occupation. I t i s an act that touches the inner person. I t affirms the a b i l i t y to make choices, i t empowers the i n d i v i d u a l to take r i s k s , i t increases the autonomy and feelings of independence, and i t encourages decision making i n other areas of the individual's l i f e . That i s not to say that these s k i l l s cannot be attained through other a c t i v i t i e s , but only to state that these were evident i n the narratives of the experience of making a career decision by the young adults interviewed for t h i s study. 124 CHAPTER V DISCUSSION The narratives of the young adults interviewed provide us with the context for discussing the experience of career decision making. The ensuing dialogues are r e f l e c t i v e . Their purpose i s not to challenge theories of career decision making, but to encourage further questioning of the experience of making career decisions. A second purpose of t h i s chapter i s to examine the implications that the r e s u l t s of t h i s research have for current practice and research, and to r a i s e questions fo r future research. Dialogue Personal Dialogue C o l a i z z i (1978) writes that "what we i m p l i c i t l y view as the f i n a l meaning or value of our research w i l l influence how we approach an investigated t o p i c . " (p.55) Reflecting on what I believed the value of the research would be I was able to name two things: I believed that I could learn from the young people and thereby improve the g u a l i t y of career guidance that I 125 offered to students; and I believed that the study could be a step towards integrating the many theories of career into a unifying theory. I therefore approached the investigation from a u t i l i t a r i a n perspective. Whatever I would learn would enable me to do my job more e f f e c t i v e l y . I began the dialogue with myself p r i o r to examining the s t o r i e s . In doing that I discovered several things. F i r s t , that I described my job as a counsellor d i f f e r e n t l y from CHOICES (1988) program; for example counselling for me was d e f i n i t e l y not "routine". Second, I discovered that career and I are symbiotic i n nature; i t grows and expands or becomes smaller and narrower as I w i l l i t or as I f e e l . The examination of my own experience alerted me to questions that could be raised i n the analysis of the protocols. Do we a l l possess our own ideas of career? Are we influenced by what others define for us as career? Does what we learn about careers influence how we experience making career choices? As prepared as I was to learn from the young people, I was surprised to f i n d the l e v e l of occupational s o p h i s t i c a t i o n that young adults possess. 126 I had not anticipated that they would be so cl e a r i n answering many of the questions I had raised. Even though I expected to hear that the a c t i v i t i e s I and my colleagues offered i n career guidance programs were not s a t i s f a c t o r y , i t was humbling to r e a l i z e how very unsatisfactory they r e a l l y were. And while I had hoped that the message that a career choice was not for l i f e was a message that young people had heard, I was unprepared for t h e i r answer. The v i s i o n they had of t h e i r future career was mobile and f l e x i b l e and changeable, not only i n terms of the workplace which was the experience of people i n my generation, but i n terms of themselves. They seem to take ownership of t h e i r careers; speaking i n terms of t h e i r jobs being f u l f i l l i n g and meeting l i f e s t y l e expectations. I had also expected to hear more concern about an unknown future, fears of unemployment or f i e r c e competition i n the workplace and was confronted with narratives almost devoid of those issues that are s t i l l important to my age group. I expected some comments on t h e i r being better o f f than t h e i r friends who have not yet made a decision and found that while they were i n d i v i d u a l l y empowered as a r e s u l t of making t h e i r decision, they 127 did not see i t as necessarily imperative that i n d i v i d u a l s make career decisions. On the contrary, they f e l t that some people do better when they f i n a l l y d r i f t into something; or they believe that t h e i r friends have other things going for them i n t h e i r l i f e that gives them s a t i s f a c t i o n . What they demonstrated to me was that the need to make a decision was personal and that the classroom types of a c t i v i t i e s I had engaged i n were not personally speaking to them and therefore not making a difference i n t h e i r l i v e s . I t seems then that the methods of the 1970's which we s t i l l p r a c t i s e are not going to reach the students of the twenty-first century. Dialogue with the Theories  Decision Theories The decisions that were made by the narrators i n t h i s study were made, with the exception of Joyce, without cognitive understanding of decision theory. Nevertheless these were decisions that could be i d e n t i f i e d on Morris' (1977) spectrum of decision making or i n James' (1890) f i v e types of decisions. They were not a r b i t r a r y but "[strove] to f u l f i l 128 intentions, desires [and] wishes" (Sloan, 1986, p.12). The doubt or indecision that was expressed did not seem to occur p r i o r to decision making (Festinger, 1957; James, 1890) but seemed to be related to self-concept ("can I do i t ? " ) and self-esteem ("what w i l l I do i f I don't get accepted?") at the point when they were acting on the decision (applying for the program). In those cases where non-acceptance to a course of studies was not perceived to be a problem, there was l i t t l e i f any evidence of self-doubt or anxiety. James (1890) might say that B i l l , James, Wayne, Janice and Susan's were decisions marked by " d r i f t i n g " towards t h e i r eventual goals, just as they saw t h e i r peers who had not yet decided d r i f t towards t h e i r s . The main difference I perceived between what the narrators stated about themselves and what they stated about t h e i r peers was that the young adults i n t h i s study appeared to have had a strong i n t e r e s t that guided them towards t h e i r decision while they did not describe t h e i r peers as having i d e n t i f i e d strong i n t e r e s t s . James (1890) does not d i f f e r e n t i a t e between people who d r i f t towards a decision that i s related to a strong 129 i n t e r e s t and those who d r i f t without a goal i n the hope of f i n d i n g an a t t r a c t i v e solution. Morris (1977) said there are f i v e terminologies which are frequently associated with decision making: luck and s k i l l , standards ( r e a l i s t i c or u n r e a l i s t i c ) , r a t i o n a l , costs and benefits, and i n t u i t i o n ; terminologies that individuals i n t h i s study applied or might have applied to themselves. Wayne, Mary and Surinder spoke of luck as a factor i n t h e i r choice while Susan spoke of her luck i n having a supportive parent and adult friends. James and Wayne spoke of r e a l i s t i c standards that were a measurement of career choice for them; at the same time believing that i n t u i t i o n i s also a factor i n choosing. Rational i s the term that might be applied to Susan, Joyce and Janice, each of whom del i b e r a t e l y prepared themselves for t h e i r respective career decisions. Most of the narrators spoke of benefits they would derive from t h e i r respective careers. The experience of making a career decision i n young adulthood i s d i f f i c u l t to f i t into a s p e c i f i c decision model such as described by Simon (1983). While Mary, Wayne or Janice might be representative of the 130 i n t u i t i v e model, Susan and James f i t part of that model as well as the behavioral model, while Joyce straddles the behavioral and S.E.U. models. What we can say i s that the experience of making career decisions i n young adulthood covers the whole spectrum of decision making behaviour (Morris, 1977) from random decision making at one extreme (for example peers who are looking to " f a l l i n t o " a career), to i n s p i r a t i o n a l decision making (Mary and Wayne) to systematic behaviour at the other extreme (Susan, Joyce and Janice). And we can acknowledge that a l l of the decisions had one thing i n common, the decision maker, acted " i n the context of h i s i n t e r n a l and external worlds" (Fishburn, 1964, p.19). Each of the narrators revealed aspects of t h e i r known i n t e r n a l and external worlds i n the s t o r i e s of how they came to t h e i r decision. I t was through these revelations that the meaning of the experience took form. Career Development Theory Career decisions are made within the context of developmental stages. While there was no i n d i c a t i o n i n the narratives of most of the respondents that career development followed a l i n e a r , progressive, or increasingly sophisticated developmental path, the st o r i e s seem to suggest that there i s a stimulus ( s i t u a t i o n a l , parental, school) that i n i t i a t e s an in t e r e s t towards vocational decision making, and that that stimulus (with the exception of James, Wayne and Janice) seemed to occur between grade 10 and grade 12 what Super (1953) c a l l s the stage of "exploration". The decision i t s e l f which can be described as a "provisional commitment [for] occupational establishment" (Super, 1953) was enacted up to f i v e years a f t e r i n i t i a l stimulus. The untested "systems model" proposed by Tiedeman and Tiedeman (in Dudley & Tiedeman, 1977) provides the basis for an in t e r e s t i n g perspective on Mary's experience. While her decision to enter business might be described as externally driven and explosive (James, 1890), a systems model could explain how a change i n school focus can i n i t i a t e rapid changes i n a "career system". Although Mary had never entertained an option other than going to university, she struggled with the concept because she believed that u n i v e r s i t i e s only gave degrees for science related f i e l d s . She r e a l l y d i d not l i k e the sciences. When i n grade 12 she chose 132 two e l e c t i v e s outside the science area, accounting and marketing, Mary was able to integrate her need to attend u n i v e r s i t y with her new found in t e r e s t s i n business courses. In the same way new information introduced James to engineering and Surinder to the opportunities offered by B.C.I.T. The s t o r i e s of career decision making suggest that a "systems model" may be a method for "reconceptualizing" career research, and may o f f e r a basic framework for integrating many of the current theories of career development and career choice ( C o l l i n & Young, 1986). While career guidance a c t i v i t i e s seemed to stimulate the process of career decision making, the a c t i v i t i e s were not seen to be h e l p f u l by the narrators. An explanation for that might l i e i n how the i n d i v i d u a l s t o r y t e l l e r s described themselves and t h e i r careers. Mary, for example, i n answering the question of what she would be doing i n the future answered that she wanted to do something with her degree but that she was also r e a l i s t i c i n knowing that bookwork was very d i f f e r e n t from actual job work. These young adults know themselves as they are i n school. They do not 133 know themselves as workers. They described the jobs that they would have at the end of t h e i r t r a i n i n g i n terms of l i f e s t y l e , personal f u l f i l m e n t and stepping stones to an ide a l job i n the f i e l d that they have chosen. The t r a i t s that they may be discounting i n an exercise may be the very t r a i t s they would exhibit i n a job; while the t r a i t s they consider key to t h e i r present s i t u a t i o n (school), may not be the ones that are considered key by workers who are presently doing those jobs. Surinder•s story included a good example of how school and job t r a i n i n g d i f f e r ( l e t alone school and job). She described herself as not being a strong academic student at school, but interested i n the sciences. The demands of her culture determined that she needed to go on to post secondary t r a i n i n g f o r an occupation that provided "status". At B.C.I.T. she proved what she knew about herself; that she could be successful i n her career choice. The c h a r a c t e r i s t i c s she displayed at B.C.I.T. were ones that she was unable to demonstrate i n high school: organizational s k i l l s , t e c h n i c a l report writing s k i l l s , c o l l a b o r a t i v e s k i l l s and so on. She knew she had i t i n her, but she didn't 134 know what that " i t " was or how to demonstrate that " i t " to her counsellor; nor can that i n s t i n c t i v e knowledge about oneself be translated to answers i n t r a i t - f a c t o r guestionnaires or computerized programs. As a r e s u l t , the p o t e n t i a l for students to discount the r e s u l t s of such a c t i v i t i e s appear to be great. The s t o r i e s r e f l e c t e d self-knowledge more than self-concept. Garbarino (1985) defines self-concept "as the i n d i v i d u a l ' s idea of who he or she i s , as the answer each person gives to the guestion, 'Who am I?'" (p.286). Self-knowledge on the other hand may be defined as "competence knowledge" (what I know about myself by observing my actions) plus "legitimacy knowledge" (what I am i n terms of my membership and status i n a group/culture/family) (Zimbardo, 1979, p.637). Because the s t o r i e s did not imply a f i n i t e decision, one cannot speak of the i n d i v i d u a l s having achieved s e l f - a c t u a l i z a t i o n (Super et a l . , 1963) i n choosing a career path, but rather than they were i n a process of a c t u a l i z i n g the knowledge that they possessed of themselves within the bounds of t h e i r c u l t u r a l milieu. The young adults i n t h i s study sought occupations that were not only compatible with t h e i r 135 self-concept (Mortimer et a l . , 1986), but were acceptable to t h e i r parents and t h e i r s o c i a l group (including peers and other s i g n i f i c a n t adults). S o c i a l Learning Theories and So c i o l o g i c a l Influence There i s no denial that s o c i a l learning and s o c i o l o g i c a l influence are evident i n the narratives of career choice of these young adults. What i s notable i s how aware they were of the influence of family, peers and s o c i a l pressures that impinged on t h e i r choices. Both B i l l and Surinder spoke at length about the molding that t h e i r respective f a m i l i e s , and i n Surinder's case also her culture, had on them and t h e i r choices. Mary who rebelled against the r o l e that her family had i n mind for h e r — a career i n the s c i e n c e s — never doubted that she would f u l f i l the parental expectation of her attending a university. Susan was very c l e a r i n recognizing that education was valued i n her family. Wayne who a c t i v e l y distanced h i s parents from h i s decision, accepted the practised, i f unstated family value that one chose an occupation that would provide the bread and butter of d a i l y l i f e . These young adults were also quite cl e a r about the influence of society and of t h e i r peers on career choice. They spoke openly about the pressures that many young people face to choose an occupation that d i d not f u l f i l them as persons, but provided them with opportunities to acquire those things that society believed to be important. They spoke about pressures to enter the "trendy" careers l i k e business re l a t e d occupations and the resultant unhappiness of some of t h e i r peers who were not successful i n those areas. They spoke about peers who avoided making decisions because they hoped that somehow they would f a l l into something that suited them and they spoke about hurdles that were seemingly set up to screen some people out of programs. The young people's perceptions of the pressures that they faced were for me perhaps the most i n s i g h t f u l i n terms of understanding t h e i r experience of career decision making. I t was as i f they were able to stand outside of themselves and see what was happening to them and to t h e i r peers. They demonstrated i n t h e i r s t o r i e s a knowledge about t h e i r s o c i a l m i l i e u and i t s expectations for them. They knew where they could exert t h e i r i n d i v i d u a l i t y and accepted the fundamental expectations of t h e i r f a m i l i e s . They accepted that peer pressure was a fac t of l i f e but did not f e e l bound to conform. Reflection The experience of making career decisions i n young adulthood cannot be adequately described by any one of the current theories i n career development or career decision making. While there were elements of a l l the theories present i n the narratives, there were also elements that are not evident i n the t r a d i t i o n a l theories. The narratives demonstrated that the experience i s larger than any of the i n d i v i d u a l theories imply; just as the meaning of the experience for young adults i s larger than the i n d i v i d u a l story. F i r s t , there appears to be a stimulus that begins to set into motion thoughts about career. The stimulus may vary from one person to another and does not seem to be age bound a l b e i t the tendency i s for i t to be recognized at an age when students are about i n grade 10 or grade 11 which coincided for most of the narrators with the provision of some form of career guidance. While people may prefer a p o s i t i v e stimulus, 138 i t d i d not seem to matter whether the introduction to careers was p o s i t i v e or negative i n tone; nor did i t matter whether personal interactions with parents, teachers or counsellors were p o s i t i v e or negative. What did matter to the indiv i d u a l s was that the stimulus was personal. Action seemed to follow when the stimulus struck an inner chord, or spoke to some inner need or jogged some basic value held by the person. Second, the decision to commit to a course of studies seemed to enhance personal confidence. I t empowered individuals i n other areas of t h e i r l i f e to make further decisions or even to challenge the wishes of the parents. A key element of the experience of personal choice was the f e e l i n g of freedom once the choice had been made and the i n d i v i d u a l had been affirmed i n his/her choice by being accepted to the program. Sloan (1987) c i t i n g Ricoeur's (1950) work stated that the difference between wish and decision was "accompanied by a sense of power or c a p a b i l i t y which could bring about the state of a f f a i r s projected by the decider" (p.52). James (1890) also stated that 139 coming to a decision i s accompanied by a sense of freedom. A t h i r d element i n the experience of career choice i n young adulthood i s an underlying b e l i e f that t h i s i s not a l i f e t i m e decision. There i s t a c i t understanding that the decision i s broad and f l e x i b l e and therefore permits the i n d i v i d u a l to grow i n di r e c t i o n s which are as yet undefined. The decision to commit to a course of studies does not carry with i t a precise understanding of what the job w i l l a c t u a l l y be at the conclusion of t h e i r studies. I t seems that young people have a desire to express themselves through t h e i r careers and see themselves as shaping t h e i r careers to s u i t t h e i r i n d i v i d u a l s t y l e rather than shaping themselves to s u i t the requirements of a job. In a world where old jobs disappear and new jobs are created ( T o f f l e r , 1980), the f l e x i b i l i t y that such career attitude implies goes f a r beyond being prepared for three or four career changes i n a l i f e t i m e . I t implies an acceptance of change and the a b i l i t y to adapt to whatever changes ar i s e . F i n a l l y , while I had hoped to gain some insights into what had made these young people d i f f e r e n t from 140 t h e i r peers who had not yet made career decisions, the narratives provided no clear answers. Most of the young people stated that they believed themselves to be d i f f e r e n t from t h e i r peers who had not yet made a career decision, but not necessarily because they had made a decision while others had not. They spoke at length about many of t h e i r peers who were avoiding making a decision, others who had permitted themselves to d r i f t into a course of studies rather than to choose a p a r t i c u l a r course, and s t i l l others who had succumbed to peer pressure or s o c i e t a l pressure to enter an occupational f i e l d that was not f u l f i l l i n g to them. They suggested that t h e i r peers were less focused, that they had other things going for them, that they were succumbing to peer pressure, that they lacked the i n i t i a t i v e or that they got a job af t e r graduating from high school and never followed up t h e i r plans. While both groups of young adults had equal opportunity to p a r t i c i p a t e i n high school guidance programs, generally there was a tendency to ascribe t h e i r own p o s i t i o n i n terms of luck. They were lucky to have taken a course at the r i g h t time, to have had a good counsellor or teacher, to have had a fr i e n d or supportive family and 141 so on. These were not self-negating statements, but almost pragmatic acceptance of circumstances which touched them but which they did not see touching t h e i r peers i n the same way. Having made a decision, even though i t f e l t freeing and empowering and was seen for themselves as more acceptable to the way that they wanted to lead t h e i r l i f e , was not seen as having an edge over t h e i r peers who had not made a decision and was not interpreted as giving them a unique standing among t h e i r peers. Hoyt et a l . ' s (1977) observation that many people f a l l into t h e i r jobs by chance was not perceived as negative by the young adults who had made decisions; they saw t h e i r peers who hoped to f a l l into a job by chance as being i n d i f f e r e n t circumstance. The conclusion I reached i n r e f l e c t i n g on the narratives i s that there i s a readiness point when a person w i l l commit to a career decision. Readiness i s not age bound. I t may happen when the i n d i v i d u a l f e e l s that he/she has explored a l l the alte r n a t i v e s and can gain nothing else from exploring further, when the i n d i v i d u a l has d r i f t e d into a job or f i e l d of study that seems to meet present needs or wants, when the person comes upon something suddenly that piques 142 his/her i n t e r e s t , or i f the s i t u a t i o n changes r a p i d l y so that a decision must be made (James, 1890). By returning to the i n i t i a l questions I posed at the outset of the research and r e f l e c t i n g on the content of the narratives, I became aware that the t r a d i t i o n a l methods of research, the nomothetic methods, could not account for some of the elements that make up the experience of a career decision i n young adulthood. F i r s t , career decision making does not seem to be a se l e c t i o n from amongst d i f f e r e n t career p o s s i b i l i t i e s . There was no evidence to suggest that young adults weigh a l t e r n a t i v e job descriptions and s e t t l e on one. Joyce, who weighed a l l of the pros and cons of becoming a doctor, did so i n terms of what she wanted i n l i f e and i n terms of whether she was w i l l i n g to put i n the time and e f f o r t to become a doctor. I t was only a f t e r she had made her decision and had sent i n her application that she decided on an alt e r n a t i v e , teaching. Teaching was not set against medicine as an option; teaching was a contingency plan that would be put into e f f e c t should the medical f a c u l t y not accept her. 143 Second, making the decision and applying f o r the program that would lead to the career of choice was seen as one thing. There was i m p l i c i t understanding that a decision i s not made u n t i l i t has been acted on. As Sloan (1987) observed i n h i s study, decisions mark the end of del i b e r a t i o n and the beginning of action. Together with t h i s understanding was a recognition that to apply was to put s e l f on the l i n e . Joyce made her contingency plan for the event that she was not accepted into medicine because she did not want to t i e her self-concept to one career that might accept or re j e c t her. In stati n g her reason, she echoed the feelin g s of dissonance (Festinger, 1957), d e f i n i t e feelings of not being i n control of one's destiny during the waiting time, experienced by many of the narrators. Being accepted to one's chosen f i e l d of study was framed i n terms of personal empowerment that permitted the young adults to address other issues i n t h e i r l i f e with confidence. Third, the experience of deciding was not framed i n terms that indicate that they have a stronger s e l f -concept than t h e i r peers who are undecided. On the contrary, several of the respondents stated quite 144 unequivocally that they had put themselves down i n the past, f e l t f e a r f u l , were aware that there were a l o t of other people around who were stronger academically than they perceived themselves to be and so on. Yet most of them made decisions for very competitive career programs. This might be explained by research i n career development and s e l f esteem (Pietrofesa & Splete, 1975). While individuals may have periods of self-doubt, a healthy self-concept i s developed during childhood and comes from successful encounters with the environment. The narratives seem to indicate that with the exception of Surinder, a l l had experienced success i n school and a l l the narrators, including Surinder, had experienced successful relationships i n terms of family and friends. Fourth, i t was the acceptance to the program that brought future into focus. I t seemed that a v i s i o n of a future was non-existent during the waiting time between application and acceptance to t h e i r respective programs. For example, James, who at the time of the f i r s t interview was waiting to be accepted into e l e c t r o n i c engineering, struggled t r y i n g to answer my question about h i s future; there was no spontaneity i n 145 h i s answer. He constantly returned to the p o s s i b i l i t y of not being accepted. Mary, who had a s i m i l a r experience waiting to receive word about the co-op program said she f e l t stuck i n uncertainty and could not plan what to do next. Susan was so anxious about what she would do i f she were not accepted to the program that she could only deal with that issue; once she had been accepted she could describe what things that she would l i k e to do i n her future. Bringing together past, present and future appears to be contingent on the a b i l i t y of the person to perceive a future and t h i s hinges on a decision having been confirmed (in t h i s case, being accepted to the program of choice). F i f t h , the career decisions made by young adults were neither framed i n words to indicate that such decisions were viewed as a milestones, nor that they were viewed as t r a n s i t i o n from adolescence to adulthood. What was evident was that the decision was framed i n words that indicated understanding of  v o l i t i o n . Career decision making, whether done with support of others (as for Joyce and Susan) or without help of any kind (as for Wayne and Mary) i s a personal 146 act that r e l a t e s the inner world of the decider to the outer world as the decider perceived i t (Fishburn, 1964). The experience of deciding was described as taking ownership of one's personal goals and values and acting upon them i n an arena that was perceived as neither h o s t i l e nor f r i e n d l y , but which was not open to t h e i r personal control. While the outcome for them had been successful they were equally aware of peers whose outcomes had not been successful. In the end, they may well have said that i t i s neither a milestone nor a t r a n s i t i o n ; i t i s "my luck". Sixth, a career decision i s not made with a p a r t i c u l a r job description i n mind. I t i s made on the basis of l i f e s t y l e concepts (Gottfredson, 1981). The decisions that these young adults made were framed i n a personal understanding of l i f e - s t y l e associated with career and the opportunities provided for them. Thus Joyce was able to state without apology that she did not r e a l l y know what a doctor did on a d a i l y basis even a f t e r having completed the f i r s t year of her medical program. What medicine offered her were the f i n a n c i a l independence and freedom to be her own boss; two values which were important to her. I t seemed that 147 these young adults understood that career decision was a continuous act that would continue to unfold long a f t e r graduating from t h e i r respective programs. Individual job descriptions were not part of the o v e r a l l v i s i o n they had for t h e i r career. The structure of the experience of career decision making may therefore be expressed as follows. Individuals experience a personal stimulus that seems to provoke thought into action. Often t h i s stimulus i s experienced at the grade 10-12 l e v e l s a l b e i t commitment to a career program may not be i n i t i a t e d u n t i l up to f i v e years l a t e r . Application to a program i s seen as synonymous with commitment to a career path. A period of anxiety follows application while in d i v i d u a l s wait to hear whether they have been accepted to the program of choice. The degree of anxiety appears to be d i r e c t l y i n proportion to the degree of competition the i n d i v i d u a l perceived or the degree of preparedness for the program, that the i n d i v i d u a l f e l t . Once the person had been accepted to his/her program of choice, the experience i s one of fee l i n g s of freedom and readiness to get on with l i f e . The 148 i n t e n s i t y of t h i s f e e l i n g appears to be t i e d to how much of the s e l f had been invested i n the choice. A general f e e l i n g of empowerment i s experienced by a l l whose career goals have been affirmed by way of acceptance to a program. This empowerment enables the young adults to make other decisions i n t h e i r l i f e , many r e l a t i n g to increasing t h e i r independence. Career decision making i n terms of commitment to a career program i s expressed i n terms of luck, focus and determination. There i s however a general acceptance that making a decision does not necessarily give one an edge and that young adults who do not make decisions may have other things going for them. And there i s acceptance that part of the experience of decision making include pressures exerted on young people by parents, peers and schools. Each experience i s i n d i v i d u a l i n terms of the stimulus that provoked the action, the degree of anxiety and freedom f e l t and the circumstances of the help they received from others. The experience i s marked by strong emotions, s e l f -knowledge and a t a c i t understanding of the environmental factors that impinged on the decision. 149 Implications for Further Research While past research into career development and career decision making has contributed a large body of information to our understanding of the topic, the experience of career decision making r e f l e c t s more than ju s t an amalgam of these theories. I t has been acceded by proponents of decision making theories (Janis & Mann, 1977; Morris, 1977) that decision models are perhaps more e f f e c t i v e i n analyzing decisions than making them, and that i n r e a l i t y people do not make most of t h e i r decisions using a model (Janis & Mann, 1977; Sloan, 1987). Models do not help us to understand the meaning that a decision has for the i n d i v i d u a l . In the dialogues i t became evident that theories of career development and career decision making only give us lim i t e d answers to what i t means to make a career decision. And while s o c i a l learning and s o c i o l o g i c a l influence theories provide yet another dimension for understanding career decision making, i n d i v i d u a l l y there i s no theory which can answer a l l of the questions regarding career decision making i n early adulthood. 150 There appears then to be a need to develop a unifying theory of career. I t has already been suggested that a systems model appears to meet some of the requirements for unifying career theory. Young (1984) proposed the use of the ecological metaphor to provide "the framework i n which to integrate [the] diverse perspectives" (p.153) on career. Such an approach would accept the re l a t i o n s h i p between the in d i v i d u a l and the environment as was demonstrated by the narratives, and would also provide a basis for understanding the r e c i p r o c a l nature of that r e l a t i o n s h i p which I believe accounts for the ind i v i d u a l ' s i n a b i l i t y to "predict" exactly what might happen i n the future. As Mary might have said, "I can only made a choice; the outcome of that choice depends on what I w i l l l i k e and w i l l give my energies to when I graduate." The concept of the ecological metaphor combined with a systems approach was explored by C o l l i n s and Young (1986) . While such an approach implies a r a d i c a l paradigm s h i f t i n thinking about careers, the r e s u l t s of t h i s thesis indicate that there i s need for such a s h i f t . I f we are to understand why some people make 151 decisions while others do not; what t r i g g e r s the need to think i n terms of career; what shapes our concepts of career and how we a r t i c u l a t e ourselves within our careers then we w i l l need to create a new foundation of information that does not separate the actor from the act or from the s e t t i n g . Questions that Arise from t h i s Research There are a number of questions which a r i s e from or remain unanswered by t h i s study. The f i r s t question i s whether the experience of career counselling that these young adults described, i s s i m i l a r to that of young people outside the lower mainland. One suspects that d i f f e r e n t school d i s t r i c t s i n B r i t i s h Columbia have d i f f e r e n t p o l i c i e s on career guidance and therefore counsellors w i l l have varying mandates for the d e l i v e r y of career guidance programs. A second guestion arose from the discussion with the theories. Could a systems model unify the varying theories of research i n career development? I t has been suggested by C o l l i n and Young (1986) that an e c o l o g i c a l systems approach could unify the theories. Research needs to be undertaken to determine whether 152 t h i s approach w i l l lead to a new understanding of career. A longitudinal study to determine whether people who have a thorough understanding of decision process and elements of decision making, are more e f f e c t i v e i n making career decisions i s a t h i r d area of research that would be of value. Janis and Mann (1977) believe that people who are informed about making choices w i l l i n the long run make better decisions than those who do not. The introduction of a decision making component i n elementary school "Learning for L i v i n g " curriculum which w i l l receive continuous review and pr a c t i s e throughout high school may o f f e r opportunity to study whether decisions are better i f the person understands the process and has the tools provided by a decision making model. With a broad spectrum of ethnic groups i n B r i t i s h Columbia, i t i s necessary to begin looking at providing career guidance for people i n d i f f e r e n t ethnic as well as socio-economic groups. There i s a need to understand the culture and how occupations are perceived within that culture. The experience of Wayne i s a good example of a student from our native Indian 153 culture who, despite having been i n academically challenging classes, did not receive the counselling that might have challenged him to enter a u n i v e r s i t y . How can we make school more meaningful for such childre n and how can we ensure that children from d i f f e r e n t cultures have equal opportunities to develop t h e i r t a l e n t s , are two more questions that stem from t h i s study. Certainly many more questions arose for me from t h i s study and others w i l l probably s t i l l a r i s e as the report i s read and discussed. Questions of s i b l i n g decision making, the guestions about self-esteem and career choice, and so on. Even a s i m i l a r study undertaken with young adults who enter a career without post-secondary education, a study of adults who are re-deciding, or a study of people who have just " f a l l e n " into t h e i r career, would contribute more information to our present body of career information l i t e r a t u r e . There i s i n my opinion a r e a l need to r e - v i s i t t h i s t o p i c whose major research base comes from the 1950's, 1960's and 1970's. 154 Implications for Practice There are a number of implications for p r a c t i t i o n e r s i n the helping professions and p a r t i c u l a r l y for those of us engaged i n career counselling or preparation of career guidance programs for young adults. F i r s t , i t i s important to note that computerized career counselling, which most of these young adults had experienced i n schools, was not perceived as h e l p f u l . Some of the factors that might have contributed to that have already been discussed. The p r a c t i t i o n e r can now anticipate some of the problems and decide how to minimize those e f f e c t s . At the same time we cannot overlook the apparent r e l a t i o n s h i p between those a c t i v i t i e s which were part of a grade 10 or 11 guidance program, and the t r i g g e r s that lead i n d i v i d u a l s to making career decisions at a l a t e r date. Secondly, i t i s important to emphasize that most of the respondents said that what would have been most h e l p f u l to them was a person or persons to t a l k to. In schools, mentorship programs, work experience and shadowing experiences are r e l a t i v e l y easy to implement and monitor and can provide that personal r e l a t i o n s h i p . 155 Thirdly, most of the respondents believed that exploration and wide exposure to a l o t of d i f f e r e n t options are much more h e l p f u l than narrowing down the f i e l d too quickly. For school personnel i t may mean encouraging students to take r i s k s with t h e i r e l e c t i v e s and to branch out into a variety of d i s c i p l i n e s . Counsellors need to act as advocates for exploration. Advocacy i s necessary not only for students but parents, many of whom have lim i t e d knowledge of the wide v a r i e t i e s of opportunity available to young people i n colleges, u n i v e r s i t i e s and technical i n s t i t u t e s . Fourthly, i t i s es s e n t i a l for counsellors to take note that negative experiences with school or parents did not deter individuals from making career decisions. As such the counsellor can work with whatever the c l i e n t brings to a session. Young adults do not want a d i r e c t i v e approach, they want someone to l i s t e n to them and to permit them to seek t h e i r own d i r e c t i o n . They ask for guidance i n 'how' not 'what1 to do. F i n a l l y , for a l l p r a c t i t i o n e r s i t i s e s s e n t i a l to note that career decision making, while r e s u l t i n g i n personal empowerment, i s not necessarily viewed as e s s e n t i a l by young adults. Thus we are freed to get to 156 know the c l i e n t and his/her needs and are not forced to conclude career guidance only a f t e r the c l i e n t has made a decision. In view of the human experience that t h i s phenomenological study revealed, we a l l need someone to t a l k to, to l i s t e n to us; but we do not need directiveness and we do not need closure i n terms of having made a decision. For some, the choice to d r i f t into a career i s as much a decision as committing to a program. The counsellor can provide opportunity to l i s t e n and to lead the person to understand h i s or her own experience of career decision making. 157 CONCLUSION In t h i s t h esis, a phenomenological approach was used to answer the question "How do young adults frame t h e i r experience of making a career decision?" While there was much information available about decision making theories, career development and career decision making, there was no unifying approach to understand the meaning of career decisions i n young adulthood. Eight persons who had just been accepted or who had j u s t completed t h e i r f i r s t year of a post secondary program that on completion could lead d i r e c t l y into a job, were interviewed by the researcher. They were asked to t e l l t h e i r s t o r i e s , with as much d e t a i l as possible, of how they came to enrol i n t h e i r respective programs, what had been h e l p f u l (or not helpful) to them i n t h e i r decision making. The interviews were taped, transcribed and then broken down into meaning units which could be compared across the various interviews. A summary of each interview was made and a second interview undertaken to v e r i f y the researchers i n t e r p r e t a t i o n of the narrator's story. Time was given to add to the s t o r i e s information that might have come 158 up i n the interim, and closure accomplished by discussing how they experienced the interviews. From the meaning units emerged themes and categories which became the foundation f o r the phenomenological description of the experience of career decision making i n young adulthood. A dialogue with personal assumptions and assumptions from the l i t e r a t u r e was then possible. F i n a l l y the contributions that t h i s study has made to the body of l i t e r a t u r e i n career decision making was made under the headings of r e f l e c t i o n , research and pr a c t i s e ; and questions for further research were raised. By understanding the meaning that career decision making has for young adults we may be able to provide greater and more meaningful assistance to those people who are seeking our help. 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(1987). C r i t i c a l  and d i a l e c t i c phenomenology. Albany, NY: State University of New York. Watson, L. C , & Watson-Franke, M. B. (1985). Interpreting l i f e h i s t o r i e s : An anthropological  inquiry. New Brunswick, NJ: Rutgers. White, D.J. (1970). Decision theory. Chicago: Aldine. Wiersma, J . (1988). The press release: Symbolic communication i n l i f e h i s t o r y interviewing. Journal of Personality. 56, 205-238. Wiersma, W. (1980). Reseach methods i n education: An  introduction. Itasca, IL: F.E. Peacock. Wilks, J . (1986). The r e l a t i v e importance of parents and friends i n adolescent decision making. Journal of Youth and Adolescence. 15, 323-334. Woelfel, J . (1975). A theory of occupational choice. In J. S. Picou & R. E. Campbell (Eds.), Career behavior  of s p e c i a l groups (pp. 41-61). Columbus, OH: Charles E. M e r r i l . Women's Bureau of Labour of Canada. (1986). "When I  grow up..." Career expectations and aspirations of  Canadian school children. Ottawa: Labour Canada. 168 Young, R. A., Friesen, J . D., & Pearson, H. M. (1988). A c t i v i t i e s and interpersonal r e l a t i o n s as dimensions of behavior i n career development of adolescents. Youth  and Society. 20. 29-45. Young, R. A. (1984). Toward an ecology of career development. Canadian Counsellor. 18, 152-159. Zimbardo, P. G. (1979). Psychology and l i f e (10th ed.). Glenview, IL: Scott, Foresman and Company. 169 APPENDIX I LETTER OF INTRODUCTION To Whom i t May Concern: My name i s Karin Breuer and I am a student i n the MA program at the University of B r i t i s h Columbia Department of Counselling Psychology. The area of my research i n t e r e s t i s the experience of career decision making i n young adulthood. The objective of t h i s research i s to record the s t o r i e s of students i n post secondary i n s t i t u t e s who are i n , or have just completed, the f i r s t year of a program of studies, which on completion, w i l l lead to an occupation. Participants w i l l be asked to f i l l out a b r i e f questionnaire which w i l l be used f i r s t to screen for candidates that meet the c r i t e r i a f o r the study and second to provide demographic information. Candidates who meet the c r i t e r i a , w i l l be asked i f they w i l l p a r t i c i p a t e i n two interviews. The f i r s t w i l l be approximately 1 to 2 hours i n length. I t ' s purpose i s to permit the candidates to t e l l the story of t h e i r experience of making the decision that w i l l lead them into t h e i r chosen occupation. The second interview w i l l be approximately 1/2 hour i n length. I t ' s purpose i s to provide the candidates with a summative review of the interview prepared by the researcher, to discuss the candidates reaction to the summation, to permit the candidates to add anything that might have come to them af t e r the end of the f i r s t interview, and to provide a sense of closure for the candidates. Both the interview and the questionnaire w i l l be held i n s t r i c t e s t confidence. An i d e n t i t y number w i l l be assigned to the questionnaire which w i l l be the only i d e n t i f i e r on the tape. Only the researcher w i l l know to whom the i d e n t i t y number has been assigned. Names and phone numbers w i l l be destroyed at the end of the study. The p a r t i c i p a t i o n of the candidates w i l l be voluntary and candidates may chose to drop out of the study at any point. A resume writing workshop, free of charge and offered by myself, w i l l be offered to candidates who participate—whether or not they complete the project. 171 APPENDIX II UNIVERSITY OF BRITISH COLUMBIA PARTICIPANT INFORMED CONSENT FORM Project T i t l e The experience of career decision making i n early adulthood. Investigators The project i s supervised by the University of B r i t i s h Columbia, Department of Counselling Psychology. Dr. R. Young, Dr. N. Amundsen, Dr. D. Pratt and Karin Breuer are the research investigators. Purpose of the Study The researcher i s interested i n how ind i v i d u a l s who are enroled i n , or who have just completed the f i r s t year of a course of studies, i n a post secondary i n s t i t u t i o n leading, on completion, to an occupation, frame t h e i r experience of making the career decision. Procedures Volunteer part i c i p a n t s w i l l be asked to complete a demographic questionnaire. Based on the questionnaire, suitable candidates w i l l be contacted for a follow-up interview that w i l l be approximately 1 to 2 hours long. During the interview p a r t i c i p a n t s w i l l be asked to t e l l t h e i r story on how they experienced making the decision for t h e i r career evidenced by t h e i r commitment to a course of studies which on completion w i l l lead to an occupation. This interview w i l l be audio-taped. A follow-up interview of approximately 1/2 hour w i l l be conducted to enable the p a r t i c i p a n t s to hear a summative evaluation of the experience and to discuss with the interviewer any issues that a r i s e from the summation, issues that might have come up for the candidate a f t e r the interview, and to provide a sense of closure to the experience. A l l of the information c o l l e c t e d w i l l remain completely c o n f i d e n t i a l and under no circumstances w i l l 172 p a r t i c i p a n t s be s p e c i f i c a l l y or i n d i r e c t l y i d e n t i f i e d i n the study. The forms that you w i l l complete w i l l be i d e n t i f i e d by a code number which w i l l be the only i d e n t i f i c a t i o n used on the interview tape. The tapes w i l l be transcribed and information w i l l be reported i n terms of group data. A precis of the t r a n s c r i p t i o n w i l l be appended to the study. Benef i t s / R i s k s By p a r t i c i p a t i n g i n t h i s study you may become more informed about some of the values you hold and the strengths you have which lead to your decision. Some research indicates that people who t e l l t h e i r own s t o r i e s are affirmed i n t h e i r course of action and f e e l more e f f e c t i v e about future courses of action. During the course of the interview you may experience some anxiety or discomfort as you r e c a l l the events that lead to t h i s decision. Participants may a v a i l themselves of a free resume writing workshop which w i l l be offered by the researcher free of charge at a l a t e r date. Other Information The t o t a l time commitment required for t h i s study w i l l approximately range between 1.5 to 3 hours. 5-10 minutes w i l l be required for the questionnaire, 1 to 2 hours for the i n i t i a l interview, and approximately 1/2 hour f o r the follow-up interview. Your p a r t i c i p a t i o n i n t h i s study i s voluntary. You may refuse to p a r t i c i p a t e or withdraw from p a r t i c i p a t i o n at any time without jeopardizing your standing as a student i n t h i s or any other post-secondary i n s t i t u t i o n . You w i l l have every opportunity to discuss your concerns about t h i s study or your experience as a p a r t i c i p a n t at any time before, during or a f t e r the questionnaire or interviews. You may also f e e l free to discuss the project or ask questions regarding the procedure at any time before or during the project. The interviewer i s aware that s e n s i t i v e issues may be opened up during the t e l l i n g of the story and w i l l a i d i n the debriefing to ensure that a l e v e l of comfort i s reached before c l o s i n g . 174 APPENDIX III PRELIMINARY QUESTIONNAIRE Project T i t l e The experience of career decision making i n early adulthood Investigators: The project i s supervised by the University of B r i t i s h Columbia, Department of Counselling Psychology. The investigators are Dr. R. Young and Dr. N. Amundsen of the Department of Counselling Psychology, Dr. D. Pratt of the Department of Adult Higher Education, and Karin Breuer. Purpose: The researcher i s interested i n how i n d i v i d u a l s who are enroled i n , or who have just completed the f i r s t year of a course of studies i n a post secondary i n s t i t u t i o n leading, on completion, to an occupation, frame the experience of career decision making. The purpose of the questionnaire i s to provide the researcher with information to determine whether volunteers meet the research c r i t e r i a of age and program enrolment and to provide a uniform means of c o l l e c t i n g the demographic data. Benefits: By p a r t i c i p a t i n g i n t h i s study you may become more informed about some of the values you hold and the strengths you have which lead to your decision. Some research indicates that people who t e l l t h e i r own s t o r i e s are affirmed i n t h e i r course of action and f e e l more e f f e c t i v e about future courses of action. Participants may a v a i l themselves of a free resume writ i n g workshop which w i l l be offered by the researcher free of charge at a l a t e r date. Procedures: Candidates w i l l be asked to t e l l the story of how they experienced the decision to enter the program that they are enroled i n which w i l l lead them into a s p e c i f i c occupation upon completion. The interview w i l l l a s t between 1 to 2 hours and w i l l be audio taped. Subsequently the interviewer w i l l meet with the candidates for approximately 1/2 hour to share 175 a summary of the interview and an inter p r e t a t i o n of the experience. Candidates w i l l be able to discuss both, add anything they may have thought about i n the meantime and comment on the interview and the feelings that may have been generated. Candidates may withdraw from the project at any time without jeopardizing t h e i r standing as a student at any post secondary i n s t i t u t i o n . The resume writing workshop i s open to anyone who pa r t i c i p a t e s , regardless whether they withdraw at any time or not. The i d e n t i t y of subjects w i l l be kept completely c o n f i d e n t i a l . An i d e n t i t y number w i l l be assigned to the questionnaire which w i l l be the only i d e n t i f y i n g mark on the audio tape. Data i n the report w i l l be written up as group data and w i l l avoid any i n d i v i d u a l references. The completion of the questionnaire w i l l assume that consent has been given. Name: Phone Number (where you can be reached most r e a d i l y ) : Time of day you can be reached most r e a d i l y : ***************************************************** Identity Number: 1. Gender 2. Age 3. Post Secondary I n s t i t u t i o n (name) 4. Name of Program you are enroled i n 176 5. How long have you been i n t h i s program? ( c i r c l e one only): a. j u s t enroled b. one year or less c. more than one year 6. Have you ever entered a t r a i n i n g program before t h i s one? a. i f "yes", would you please name or describe i t ? 7. Ma r i t a l status: ( c i r c l e one) a. single b. married c. divorced or separated 8. Ethnic o r i g i n ( i f known): 9. ( c i r c l e one) a. immigrant b. f i r s t generation Canadian c. two or more generations Canadian 10. Educational status ( c i r c l e highest level) a. grade 10 or less b. grade 11 to 12 c. high school graduate d. 1-2 years college or uni v e r s i t y e. more than 2 years college or un i v e r s i t y 11. Family Demographics a. occupation of father: b. occupation of mother: c. occupation of brother(s): d. occupation of s i s t e r ( s ) : e. occupation of spouse ( i f married or separated or divorced): 177 12. Size of community you were raised i n ( c i r c l e one) a. farm or community under 500 b. v i l l a g e (500 - 2500) c. town (2,500 - 10,000) d. small c i t y (10,000 - 100,000) e. large c i t y (over 100,000) 13. Distance of permanent residence from i n s t i t u t i o n your are attending. ( c i r c l e one) a. part of the same community b. within commuting distance (less than 60 km) c. more than 60 km but commute d a i l y d. l i v i n g away from home to attend i n s t i t u t i o n 14. Economic evaluation ( c i r c l e as many as applicable) a. come from above average income family b. average income family c. below average income family d. t u i t i o n and l i v i n g expenses are not a problem e. t u i t i o n and l i v i n g expenses are t i g h t but manageable f. t u i t i o n and l i v i n g expenses are a problem g. the cost of programs had an influence on my decision 15. I f I was to make the choice of occupation again i t ( c i r c l e one) a. would be the same choice b. would be a d i f f e r e n t choice ******************************************************* I would l i k e to p a r t i c i p a t e i n a resume writing workshop. ( c i r c l e one) a. yes b. no 178 APPENDIX IV DEMOGRAPHIC INFORMATION 1. Gender: Male-3 Female-5 2. Age: l-18yrs 2-19yrs 3-20yrs 2-21yrs 3. Post Secondary I n s t i t u t i o n (name): U.B.C. - 3 S.F.U. - 1 B.C.I.T. - 1 Douglas College - 1 Kwantlen College - 1 Ryerson - 1 4. Name of Program you are enroled i n : Medical School - 1 Business Administration - 1 Occupational Health and Safety - 1 In t e r i o r Design - 1 General Nursing - 1 Applied Science (Engineering) - 1 Computer Information Systems - 1 Arts - 1 5. How long have you been i n t h i s program? ( c i r c l e one only): a. just enroled: 2 b. one year or less: 6 c. more than one year: 0 6. Have you ever entered a t r a i n i n g program before t h i s one? No - 7 Yes- 1 a. i f "yes", would you please name or describe i t ? F i r s t year Commerce (just completed) 7. Ma r i t a l status: ( c i r c l e one) a. si n g l e : 8 b. married: 0 c. divorced or separated: 0 179 8. Ethnic o r i g i n ( i f known): I r i s h / S c o t t i s h : 1 Irish/Canadian: 1 East Indian: 1 German: 1 German/Native Indian: 1 B r i t i s h / I r i s h : 1 Serbian/Scottish: 1 Spanish: 1 9. ( c i r c l e one) a. immigrant: 2 b. f i r s t generation Canadian: 4 c. two or more generations Canadian: 2 10. Educational status ( c i r c l e highest level) a. grade 10 or less: 0 b. grade 11 to 12: 0 c. high school graduate: 1 d. 1-2 years college or u n i v e r s i t y : 3 e. more than 2 years college or u n i v e r s i t y : 4 11. Family Demographics a. occupation of father: Engineer: 2 Millwright: 1 Autobody Repair: 1 Economist: 1 Courier: 1 Computer Systems Analyst: 1 b. occupation of mother: Homemaker: 3 In charge of F l i g h t personnel: 1 Secretary: 1 Collections O f f i c e r : 1 Salesperson: 1 Nurse: 1 c. occupation of brother(s): High School student: 1 Sales person: 1 180 d. occupation of s i s t e r ( s ) : University student: 3 Legal Secretary: 1 e. occupation of spouse ( i f married or separated or divorced): N/A 12. Size of community you were raised i n ( c i r c l e one) a. farm or community under 500: 1 b. v i l l a g e (500 - 2500): 0 c. town (2,500 - 10,000): 0 d. small c i t y (10,000 - 100,000): 5 e. large c i t y (over 100,000): 2 13. Distance of permanent residence from i n s t i t u t i o n your are attending. ( c i r c l e one) a. part of the same community: 2 b. within commuting distance (less than 60 km): 4 c. more than 60 km but commute d a i l y : 1 d. l i v i n g away from home to attend i n s t i t u t i o n : 1 14. Economic evaluation ( c i r c l e as many as applicable) a. come from above average income family: 2 b. average income family: 6 c. below average income family: 0 d. t u i t i o n and l i v i n g expenses are not a problem: 1 e. t u i t i o n and l i v i n g expenses are t i g h t but manageable: 4 f. t u i t i o n and l i v i n g expenses are a problem: 0 g. the cost of programs had an influence on my decision: 1 15. I f I was to make the choice of occupation again i t ( c i r c l e one) a. would be the same choice: 8 b. would be a d i f f e r e n t choice: 0 ***************************************************** 181 APPENDIX V INTERVIEW SCHEDULE Thank you for volunteering to p a r t i c i p a t e i n t h i s study. My name i s Karin Breuer and I spoke to you e a r l i e r about the nature of t h i s study and i t s purpose. I would l i k e to b r i e f l y go over that information again and answer any questions you might have thought about since completing the questionnaire. The study i s conducted as part of the requirements f o r the masters program i n the Department of Counselling Psychology at the University of B r i t i s h Columbia. Drs. R. Young and N. Amundsen of the Counselling Psychology Department and Dr. D. Pratt of the Adult Education Department are my supervisors. We are t r y i n g to f i n d out what i t i s l i k e for young people to commit to a career program for the f i r s t time; what they go through to come to a career decision; how they f e e l about the decision; what they think i s good, or perhaps not so good about t h e i r decision; and i n what general atmosphere—positive, o p t i m i s t i c , pessimistic or so on—the decision was made. In addition, we would l i k e to know whether the decision was made a long time ago or just recently and how i t was arrived at. Because we f i l l a l o t of roles at the same time, as for example (checking the questionnaire) you are presently a student, a son/daughter, a husband/wife, a career decision i s often made i n an arena of many other decisions. We would also l i k e to know how your decision for entering (refer to description of program) f i t s into some of the other decisions i n your l i f e . The information from these interviews w i l l help us understand how young people experience t h e i r f i r s t career decision which i n turn may lead us to become more e f f e c t i v e as counsellors i n a s s i s t i n g young people i n choosing a career. The interview w i l l l a s t approximately 2 hours. With your permission, I would l i k e to use an audiotape to record your story so that I can l i s t e n to you without having to interrupt you to repeat something that I need to record. The tape recording w i l l be transcribed so that a l l i d e n t i f y i n g information, such as your name, w i l l be deleted. A l l information that you give me w i l l be treated c o n f i d e n t i a l l y and be used 182 only for research purposes. You may withdraw from t h i s interview at any time. The permission form (given to candidate) states the same conditions that I have explained. Please read i t and f e e l free to ask any questions about i t before signing, (pause to complete permission form) Before we begin, are there any questions or concerns that I have not answered? (pause) I w i l l now turn on the cassette recorder and te s t i t so that I am sure that everything w i l l work as planned. (perception check l e v e l of discomfort when doing t h a t ) . Many people f i n d speaking to a recorder a l i t t l e awkward at f i r s t but af t e r a while you may f i n d that you have completely forgotten that i t ' s there. (The interview was focused insofar as certain questions were covered, but the style of the interview was nondirective to f a c i l i t a t e the free flow of information. Minimal encouragers such as 'mhm, y e s , I see' and so on were employed to provide encouragement to the narrator, while summary statements, paraphrasing and linking of ideas were used to keep the topic focused. Body language s k i l l s such as good eye contact, nodding of head, open posture were used to maintain rapport. Notes on the narrator's body language and other impressions such as level of discomfort, speed of narration and so on were made as soon after the interview as was feasible in order to provide as complete a picture as possible of the interview. The use of notes aided in interpreting the "tone" of the narration. While the precise questions were not always asked if the narrator provided the information with the use of the prompts, the following schedule was generally covered during the course of the interview.) 1. To begin, perhaps you could t e l l me how you came to enter (name of the program)? 2. What kinds of events i n your l i f e contributed to making t h i s choice? 183 3. Are there any people who i n the course of your l i f e helped you come to t h i s decision? How would you describe these people and your r e l a t i o n s h i p to them? 4. What kinds of things do you remember running through your head at the time when you were about to apply f o r t h i s course of studies? How would you describe your feelings? 5. When you were deciding on t h i s course of studies, were there other important decisions that you had to make at the same time which might have affected your career decision? For example, did you need to change location of residence, give up a job, or so on? 6. How do your parents/siblings/friends f e e l about t h i s decision? 7. Do you see t h i s as a career that you would l i k e to pursue for the res t of your l i f e ? 8. I f you were to retrace the steps that lead you to t h i s decision, would you make changes and perhaps decide d i f f e r e n t l y ? 9. What are some of your future hopes and dreams and how do you see t h i s career plan helping to f u l f i l those? 10. A career decision i s considered one of our major l i f e decisions. What are some things that you might wish to say to someone who i s also making a career decision for the f i r s t time? Would you make another major l i f e decision such as getting married or having children i n the same way? Why or why not? 11. What kinds of things have you learned about yourself while making t h i s decision? 12. Do you think that young people by and large undergo a s i m i l a r experience as you have had making a career decision? How si m i l a r or di f f e r e n t ? 13. Did you ever experience any career guidance, before you made the decision? ( i f 'yes 1: Could you t e l l me what i t was l i k e for you?) 184 14. If you were to help someone make career plans or help them decide on a career, what would be some things that you might want to include i n your discussion? 15. Do you think i t i s d i f f i c u l t f o r young people today to make career decisions? How does t h i s compare with your own experience? 16. Before we close, i s there anything that came to mind during the discussion which you might have wanted to say but which you thought not relevant at the time or for which a question was not posed? Thank you very much for your p a r t i c i p a t i o n . I w i l l get back to you within two weeks with a summary statement. I would l i k e to share the summary with you to ascertain accuracy and permit you to add to your story or to question my understanding of what your experience of a f i r s t time career decision was. May I reach you at the same telephone number as before? And i s the time for c a l l i n g s t i l l good for you? (A follow up session of approximately 30 minutes was conducted within two weeks of the interview. This interview was also audio taped. A summary of the transcript was given as well as read to the candidate and three main questions were asked.) 1. Do you f e e l that t h i s summary captures your experience of making a f i r s t time career decision as you t o l d i t to me two weeks ago? 2. Are there any other thoughts or feelings that came up for you since our interview that you may wish to add to your story? 3. Was the method of the interview conducive to your t e l l i n g your story i n the way that you had wished to t e l l i t ? Did you f i n d the questions appropriate and open or did you at any time f e e l r e s t r i c t e d or perhaps even lead to anwer i n a cer t a i n way? 185 APPENDIX VI CATEGORIES AND INDEX HEADINGS Categories 1. The Relationship of Self to the Decision. Index Heading Decision making i s very much beli e v i n g i n yourself. Decisions have a h i s t o r y : there i s a time when you begin to think about what you are going to do. Decisions are r e l a t i o n a l : they concern the need or the desire to get help or not wanting help. Part of the decision was knowing oneself; looking at past history, the kinds of things one has come to value and the resources one has that helped i n the decision making. I t i s important to focus on what one wants i n l i f e or i n a job. Getting the decision process started: f e e l i n g s of dissonance and indecision. Part of deciding i s to verbalize to someone what one wants to do. There i s a payoff for oneself when one has made a decision that seems to give guidance for how one might make future decisions. 186 Choice i s a personal act that has to do with values, knowing yourself, under-standing the way you get information, and beli e v i n g i n yourself and your goals. There are i n t e r n a l and external pressures r e s u l t i n g from people or experiences which are part of decision making. Making a choice i s often d i f f i c u l t because there are many d i f f e r e n t careers to choose from, and often l i t t l e knowledge about them or the places where one might receive t r a i n i n g or education. Describing the career choice. Expressing the need for personal guidance: guidance, for those who want i t , seems to be very limited. Some advice to others: i t i s important not to l i m i t oneself but to explore many avenues and most of a l l to t a l k to many people. 187 The Experience of High-School Outside Influences Influence of peers: peer pressure i s subtle rather than d i r e c t i n terms of career decision making. Direct influences: i n school, one i s influenced d i r e c t l y by p o s i t i v e l y or negatively experienced interactions with teachers and counsellors. Career guidance i n high school i s not perceived to be personal. Indirect influences: courses and programs can also influence one p o s i t i v e l y or negatively. There are many influences of a general nature such as finances and location of i n s t i t u t e of learning that impact on the decision for a s p e c i f i c program. Influence of people other than parents or school. a. How one i s treated and regarded by others. b. Some p o s i t i v e experiences with other people. Sibl i n g s : influences and competition. 188 5. The Role of Family 6. Applying to the Program of Choice 7. Feelings and Issues about being Accepted 1. Family events may play a ro l e i n decision making. 2. Expressed and i m p l i c i t family values: there are family values which exert pressure on the i n d i v i d u a l thinking of making a career decision. 3. Pressures from parents come in the form of a. Supportive statements made by parents and b. Non-supportive or negative statements made by parents. 1. There are challenges and hurdles to be overcome as one i s applying to a program of one's choice. 1. Describing the program: many programs have s p e c i f i c l i m i t s or entrance parameters that one needs to meet or address. 2. During the period of waiting, between application and acceptance, there are issues of personal fears and s e l f -doubt that need to be faced. 3. The acceptance to a program engenders p o s i t i v e feelings about oneself and one's future. 4. There are other issues related to becoming accepted into a program which deal with personal insights and insights into the program one has chosen. 189 8. Observations about Others 9. Self Talk 10. Other Decisions 1. Talking about peers and how they are managing t h e i r career plans: most of t h e i r friends have not made a decision and seem to be avoiding making one. 1. Statements made about s e l f : i t seems that everyone has periods of s e l f doubt but unless one goes ahead and t r i e s things, nothing w i l l ever happen. 2. There are some inner c o n f l i c t s that are d i r e c t l y or i n d i r e c t l y r elated to the decision. 3. Regrets: although the decision would have probably remained the same, there are things that some students might have wanted to do d i f f e r e n t l y . 1. Important ideas that lead to s e l f - r e c o g n i t i o n or action: there i s a need to get on with l i f e now that the career decision has been made. 2. There i s a willingness to make other decisions. 3. Making a career decision raises the awareness of other issues i n l i f e that indi v i d u a l s may or may not want to address at t h i s time. 4. Acceptance to a program may be accompanied by a need to make decisions for greater independence. 190 Thoughts about the Future 1. There are some unknowns about the future which give r i s e to feelings of fear (or) 2. Ambiguity about the future. 3. Some future hopes and dreams: there i s an end i n sight where one w i l l have the career that i s being prepared f o r , but the completion of the program of studies i s not an end unto i t s e l f . 191 APPENDIX VII THEMES FROM THE QUESTIONS Technique Triangulation A second examination of the protocols was made to increase the strength of the v a l i d i t y of the analysis. The answers given for each question were written on 3"x5" cards and then sorted for major ideas. In t h i s manner, I was able to i d e n t i f y the kinds of information that the questions e l i c i t e d during the narration. Eleven major ideas (corresponding to the categories o r i g i n a t i n g from phenomenological reduction) were i d e n t i f i e d . A high c o r r e l a t i o n between the two methods was observed. Question 1. To begin, perhaps you could t e l l me how you came to enter (name the program)? Answers included: Description of s e l f ; parental r e l a t i o n s h i p s ; decision making; describing the fee l i n g s ; school influence. Question 2. What kinds of events i n your l i f e contributed to making t h i s choice? Answers included: Parental r e l a t i o n s h i p s ; other people & influences; school influence; description of s e l f . Question 3. Are there any people who i n the course of your l i f e helped you come to t h i s decision? How would you describe these people and your r e l a t i o n s h i p to them? Answers included: Parental r e l a t i o n s h i p s ; other people & influences; school influence; friends and peers. Question 4. What kinds of things do you remember running through your head at the time when you were about to apply for t h i s course of studies? How would you describe your feelings? Answers included: Describing s e l f ; describing the fee l i n g s ; describing the career; general decision making. 192 Question 5. When you were deciding on t h i s course of studies, were there other important decisions that you had to make at the same time which might have affected your career decision? For example, did you need to change location of residence, give up a job, or so on? Answers included: General decision making; parental r e l a t i o n s h i p s ; other issues. Question 6. How do your parents/siblings/friends f e e l about t h i s decision? Answers included: Parental r e l a t i o n s h i p s ; other people & influences; friends and peers. Question 7. Do you see t h i s as a career that you would l i k e to pursue for the res t of your l i f e ? Answers included: Future; describing the career; describing s e l f ; other issues. Question 8. I f you were to retrace the steps that lead you to t h i s decision, would you make changes and perhaps decide d i f f e r e n t l y ? Answers included: General decision making; other issues; describing the career. Question 9. What are some of your future hopes and dreams and how do you see t h i s career plan helping to f u l f i l those? Answers included: Describing the career; describing s e l f ; future. Question 10. A career decision i s considered one of our major l i f e decisions. What are some things that you might wish to say to someone who i s also making a career decision for the f i r s t time? Would you make another major l i f e decision such as getting married or having childr e n i n the same way? Why or why not? Answers included: General decision making; friends and peers; other issues; describing s e l f . 193 Question 11. What kinds of things have you learned about yourself while making t h i s decision? Answers included: Describing s e l f ; parental r e l a t i o n s h i p s ; general decision making. Question 12. Do you think that young people by and large undergo a s i m i l a r experience as you have had making a career decision? How s i m i l a r or d i f f e r e n t ? Answers included: Friends and peers; other people & influences; general decision making; describing s e l f . Question 13. Did you ever experience any career guidance before you made the decision? ( i f 'yes': Could you t e l l me what i t was l i k e for you?) Answers included: School influence; career guidance; describing s e l f . Question 14. I f you were to help someone make career plans or help them decide on a career, what would be some things that you might want to include i n your discussion? Answers included: Friends and peers; general decision making; future; parental r e l a t i o n s h i p s ; describing the career. Question 15. Do you think i t i s d i f f i c u l t f or young people today to make career decisions? How does t h i s compare with your own experience? Answers included: Future; describing s e l f ; general decision making; describing the career; describing the fe e l i n g s . Question 16. Before we close, i s there anything that came to mind during the discussion which you might have wanted to say but which you thought not relevant at the time or fo r which a question was not posed? Answers included: Other issues; describing s e l f ; future; describing the career. 194 APPENDIX VIII DESCRIPTION OF THE QUESTION-ANSWER ANALYSIS 1. General decision making. In t r y i n g to understand the experience of decision making, I wanted to separate the statements that were generic to decision making from those s p e c i f i c to the career choice. I found that the s t o r i e s did not allow for such a separation. However, the s t o r i e s provided information that permitted some understanding of the time commitment in d i v i d u a l s required to come to the decision. While i n some instances, the decision was made over a period of many years, i n others i n d i v i d u a l s seemed to "grow into" t h e i r decision and s t i l l others came to a decision very quickly. There was not a sense that career decisions are made over "x" period of years. Career decision making appears to be quite i n d i v i d u a l i s t i c and r e l a t e d to a personal stimulus that i n i t i a t e d the career path. 2. Parental r e l a t i o n s h i p s and involvement. Part of the experience of deciding on a career included the fe e l i n g s surrounding parental involvement. Although a l l of the respondents spoke of t h e i r parents, there appeared to be only one person, James, who spoke i n what might be c a l l e d neutral terms about h i s parents. The other respondents tended towards the use of more emotional language when discussing t h e i r r e l a t i o n s h i p with t h e i r parents i n terms of t h e i r career decision. A theme of parental presence rather than involvement emerged i n the s t o r i e s . Parental presence was expressed by the narrators i n terms of being welcome as well as unwelcome. 3. Other people and influences. There were two thoughts expressed i n the narratives that dealt with other people and influences. One thought described people and how the narrators perceived t h e i r influence which could be summarized i n one of three ways: f i r s t a lack of i n f l u e n t i a l people i n the l i v e s of young adults t r y i n g to make career decisions; secondly, the people who are available more often t r y to influence young adults i n t h e i r decision instead of permitting them to explore; and t h i r d l y , the narrators were cle a r about what kinds of i n t e r a c t i o n with people had been h e l p f u l and what had not been h e l p f u l . 195 The second thought involved i d e n t i f y i n g whether the influence was d i r e c t , as for example Susan s t a t i n g that "people always t o l d me 'you have a f i n e eye, you have good ideas'", or Wayne being directed by h i s f r i e n d to investigate the program he l a t e r enroled i n ; or i n d i r e c t (by way of expectations or environment), as for example Susan describing her childhood surrounded by "a l o t of design things, culture, a r t , and always having l i t e r a t u r e around and books and magazines..."; or B i l l t a l k i n g about h i s school "teachers and parents, ...worrying, [about the students' future and thereby] inadvertently put[ting] pressure to create a d i r e c t i o n within that person". 4. Friends and peers. While friends and peers appeared to influence choice, i t seemed to be subtle rather than d i r e c t . The narrators discussed friends and career decisions i n terms of comparisons. They spoke about t h i s t o p i c by r e l a t i n g s t o r i e s of friends or peers who avoided making or are postponing career decisions; i n terms of lack of information and lack of s k i l l s i n fin d i n g information that some of t h e i r peers demonstrated; i n terms of a lack of commitment by some young people to making a decision and a concomitant hope of " f a l l i n g " into something; by recognizing that some of t h e i r peers who are i n a career program are there not by personal choice but because of parental pressures; and speaking of others who f e l l prey to peer pressure and decided on a career that t h e i r friends were entering. In making these observations and comparing t h e i r s i t u a t i o n to those of t h e i r friends and peers, the narrators generally expressed t h e i r coming to a decision i n p o s i t i v e , s e l f - a f f i r m i n g terms. And while they have fears, concerns and doubts about t h e i r friends who have not made decisions or who are seen to have made wrong decisions because they were pressured into them, they were u n c r i t i c a l and seemed to believe that as long as people keep t h e i r options open, that they w i l l eventually be lead to the career of t h e i r choice. 5. Describing the s e l f i n r e l a t i o n to the decision. Coming to a career decision was an experience that was described i n emotional words. Anxiety, hope, fear, joy are just some of the terms that were used. For some of 196 the narrators what they had embarked on was new and e x c i t i n g while for others i t was a f u l f i l l m e n t of a decision that seemed to have originated i n early childhood. The unifying element i n t h i s theme was one of people f e e l i n g good about themselves. Fear was a f e e l i n g experienced p r i m a r i l y during the commitment stage e s p e c i a l l y during the period between a p p l i c a t i o n and acceptance when the s e l f i s open to acceptance or r e j e c t i o n by the i n s t i t u t i o n . Once the decision had been made and the person was accepted, the words expressed feelings of freedom and r e l i e f . Regardless of whether indivi d u a l s f e l t that they made decisions recently or whether they had grown into the decision, the s t o r i e s were f i l l e d with comments that indicated a high degree of s e l f awareness that seemed to go beyond just the career decision. 6. Describing the fe e l i n g s . Most of the narrators experienced a great sense of r e l i e f when they knew that they had been accepted to the program of t h e i r choice. I t seemed that the more competitive the entrance reguirements to a program, the greater the sense of r e l i e f . For the person, who during the main interview was s t i l l waiting to hear whether he had been accepted, the stress l e v e l was so high that i t seemed to dominate a good part of the interview. Once i n the program of t h e i r choice, r e l i e f gave way to fee l i n g s of relaxation and feelings of empowerment. However, some of the narrators who had experienced a year i n the program of t h e i r choice also expressed mixed f e e l i n g s — n o t i n terms of t h e i r goal, but about the program i t s e l f . For Susan, for example, not a l l the courses she had taken were as meaningful as she might have anticipated, for B i l l the focus of the program was too r e s t r i c t i v e and for James i t was s u f f e r i n g academic stress for the f i r s t time i n h i s l i f e . 7. Describing the career. Not everyone spoke about the actual career i n terms of knowing what he/she would be doing at the conclusion of t h e i r education. On the contrary, i t seemed that the experience of making a commitment to a career program did not necessarily imply an understanding of that career. In general career was described more i n terms of l i f e s t y l e and 197 personal f u l f i l l m e n t , rather than i n terms of job desc r i p t i o n . 8. Career guidance. Career guidance encompassed two top i c s , guidance which they received, and guidance which they would wish to impart to others or would have found more b e n e f i c i a l to themselves. The guidance that was h e l p f u l was described as personal interactions with people who made an impact on them. The guidance that was not h e l p f u l was described as interactions that seemed manipulative or impersonal. The l a t t e r were prim a r i l y with computerized career programs, a l b e i t some of the respondents also experienced impersonal or manipulative human interactions. 9. School influence. In terms of school influence on the career decision, the students expressed the extremes of good or bad, whether i n t h e i r r e l a t i o n s h i p with i n d i v i d u a l s (teachers or counsellors), or with s p e c i f i c programs i n the schools. 10. Future. Most of the respondents spoke about the future i n somewhat nebulous terms which may perhaps not be too su r p r i s i n g as they a l l looked to completing two to f i v e years of studies. However, i t i s worthy to note that among t h e i r future goals was the recognition that they would continue professional development or future courses or even higher degrees. 11. Other issues. While the overwhelming focus of the i n d i v i d u a l s was on t h e i r commitment to t h e i r career programs, two concurrent topics appeared to be part of t h e i r decision making, that of residence, and that of finances. While neither of these items seemed to prevent the i n d i v i d u a l s from a c t u a l i z i n g t h e i r career decision, they were an element i n each narrative. Adjunct to finance and residence was the underlying need to assert t h e i r independence, while at the same time looking for approval, e s p e c i a l l y of parents. 198 APPENDIX IX CHRONOLOGY, REFLEXIVITY AND REFLECTION Each of the s t o r i e s was examined i n terms of chronology to get a sense of time; and r e f l e x i v i t y , to gain some understanding of how the experience of deciding f o r a career program was part of a continuous experience of s e l f . In addition, I have included a summary statement of the r e f l e c t i o n s I made on the narratives. The information i s presented here i n the order that the interviews were conducted. Joyce I. Chronology 1. Elementary school: toying with becoming a doctor, nurse or teacher. 2. Move to B.C. when i n grade 9: became more independent; no longer with people who prejudged her. 3. Grade 11: entered the International Baccalaureate Program a. academically enriched program b. surrounded by very bright but not always well-rounded peers c. i n f l u e n t i a l Biology teacher d. missing out on a l o t of fun e. began thinking about her career more seriou s l y 4. University: won a scholarship that made her decision f o r the i n s t i t u t i o n she would attend. 5. 3rd Year S. F. U. a. seeking to decide future b. fear of f a i l u r e immobilized further action c. went for career counselling d. d i d career search at uni v e r s i t y career centre e. learned p r i o r i z i n g and acting on plans f. made application but spent summer s t i l l soul searching 199 g. t o l d mother of plans just before receiving l e t t e r of acceptance from U.B.C. 6. Was accepted to medical school. a. i n c r e d i b l e r e l i e f b. subsequent decision to move away from family home was made quickly and independently c. greater feelings of confidence i n asserting h e r s e l f with her peers d. great sense of r e l i e f ; freedom from pressures to perform e. struggle between growing need for independence and sense of r e s p o n s i b i l i t y towards parent (mother) f. more relaxed and able to take free time g. thinking of future i . service overseas i i . marriage and family i i i . p rivate practice I I . S h i f t s i n time space coordinates 1. Move from small community to urban centre 2. International Baccalaureate program 3. University 4. University s p e c i a l t y area I I I . R e f l e x i v i t y The career choice was made i n a personal arena where the stated family values of independence and career wrestled with unstated values of non-assertion and dependence so that Joyce f e l t almost immobilized to act. I t seemed that overcoming the pa r a l y s i s , and having the action (application to medical school) validated i n the form of an acceptance l e t t e r was a p i v o t a l point i n how Joyce experienced he r s e l f . P r i o r to the resolution to act, a l l decisions appear to have been made for her (parents; scholarship to S.F.U.); once she had acted, she f e l t free to move out, become more assertive and l e t go of the in t e n s i t y with which she pursued the academics. I t seemed, that i n Joyce's case, the experience of making the career decision freed her to continue making decisions about her l i f e . 200 IV. Re f l e c t i o n Two things stood out for me i n t h i s story. F i r s t the r e l a t i o n s h i p Joyce had with her parents —good children obey the parents and t r y to please t h e i r parents by being obedient. Second Joyce's struggle with self-confidence which I saw as i n some way linked to the parental issue. Despite of academic success Joyce experienced a period of immobilization when i t came to acting on her career plans. She believed that part of her lack of self-confidence stemmed from the family home. The parents, while advocating independence, expected unquestioned obedience from the children. Mary I. Chronology 1. Elementary and junior high school: undecided; taking sciences but unhappy with the courses. 2. Grade 11: decides she does not l i k e sciences and goes against parental and counsellor's advice; she does not choose to take a f u l l science program i n her f i n a l year. 3. Grade 12: takes accounting and marketing and discovers a new world opening up to her. a. i s turned on to business by a teacher b. decides that t h i s i s where she r e a l l y would l i k e to be 4. Attends S. F. U. but does not take any science courses. a. father refuses to discuss her choice; makes i t clear that he i s not i n favour b. mother and s i s t e r support her i n her decision c. friends are supportive of her decision d. increased awareness of the opportunities avail a b l e to her at un i v e r s i t y 5. She applies to enter the business f a c u l t y . a. father against i t ; f e e l s need to stand up for her s e l f 201 b. mother and s i s t e r s t i l l supportive c. f e e l i n g a f r a i d because of the competition 6. She i s accepted to the f a c u l t y . a. great sense of r e l i e f and accomplishment b. sense of energy 7. Other decisions: whether or not to enter co-op. a. fraught with self-doubt b. finds she needs support of family and friends to make t h i s decision c. great anxiety during the period of waiting e s p e c i a l l y when nothing i s happening d. g r a t e f u l for the opportunity i t provided once i t was job time e. growth towards personal independence; throwing o f f her routines; becoming more f l e x i b l e f. finds acceptance for her choice from dad I I . S h i f t s i n time-space coordinates 1. high school 2. u n i v e r s i t y 3. u n i v e r s i t y - s p e c i a l t y area 4. s p e c i a l t y area and co-op 5. co-op work experience I I I . R e f l e x i v i t v Mary's decision to take courses other than sciences i n grade 12 freed her from her previous misconceptions about opportunities at u n i v e r s i t y (she said that she did not know about such things as a business degree, communications degree, criminology and so on as she had been influenced by her father and the school to think that only science r e l a t e d areas were at university.) Her career decision was made almost i n r e b e l l i o n . As a r e s u l t she did not seem to understand the steps she had taken i n a r r i v i n g at her decision making the subsequent decision for co-op education also d i f f i c u l t , for her. When Mary recognized the processes i n the second interview, she was able to t i e them together and f e e l more empowered to act i n the future. 202 IV. R e f l e c t i o n Mary's experience of making her career decision was marked by the father daughter c o n f l i c t which she returned to i n her story, time and time again. I t was evident that her father was a strong influence i n her l i f e and that she wanted to please him. This was evidenced by the r e l i e f she experienced once he had accepted her decision. However, she also needed to be independent of her father's dictates and d i r e c t i o n s and was prepared to face h i s r e j e c t i o n , not ju s t of her choice, but of herself, i n order to follow her in t e r e s t s . Surinder I. Chronology 1. High School. a. need to begin some career search about grade 11 b. career search i s focused on physiotherapist c. career guidance seen as waste of time d. school counsellor seen as very non-supportive; negative 2. College a. entered into f i r s t year science transfer program b. pressure from parents to make a decision c. applied to B.C.I.T., Occupational Health and Safety i . wanted a science related occupation i i . wanted a " d i f f e r e n t " , uncommon occupation i i i . wanted something that would allow her to advance 3. Waiting period a. did not receive a reply from B.C.I.T. over the summer b. phoned the i n s t i t u t e and was t o l d she was on a waiting l i s t c. d i d not give up: got an interview with the dean of the program and was accepted 203 4. B. C. I. T. a. f e e l s fortunate to be i n t h i s very competitive area b. f e e l s affirmed that i t was the r i g h t decision for her c. personal growth i . recognizes that most people i n the program have more experience and background and f e e l s free to learn from them i i . recognizes she has strengths and i s w i l l i n g to share them d. has been encouraged by her experience to help her brother i n a career exploration I I . S h i f t s i n time and space 1. High school 2. College 3. B. C. I. T. I I I . R e f l e x i v i t v For Surinder having a goal i s e s s e n t i a l i f one wants to become something i n t h i s world. She sees her s e l f as becoming successful i n her career by v i s u a l i z i n g both her career and her success and working towards that v i s i o n . At the same time she appears to be a "here and now" person who just wants a job i n her f i e l d but who, i t seems, would take anything i n the way of employment, once she has completed her t r a i n i n g . IV. Reflections For me the underlying theme i n t h i s decision was the influence of the extended family and her culture on Surinder. She accepted the strong family values about having a good education and an occupation acceptable to her s t a t i o n i n l i f e , but at the same time struggled against the competitiveness she saw i n her ethnic community. Surinder also f e l t that the community judged heavily those who cannot make up t h e i r minds or who change t h e i r minds about t h e i r careers. On the other hand she does not shy away from competition, as demonstrated by her willingness to p a r t i c i p a t e i n a very competitive occupation. Surinder seemed to separate herself from a perceived negative competition 204 i n her extended family by using the t h i r d person pronoun "you" when she talked about herself and the pressures she f e l t from her extended family about her career goals. She used the f i r s t person " I " when she spoke about herself i n terms of what she i s doing at B.C.I.T. Susan I. Chronology 1. Growing up i n a single parent family with a mom who i s very much a patron of the ar t s . a. surrounded by 'nice 1 things b. artsy friends of mom c. t r a v e l l i n g to Europe d. being exposed to art g a l l e r i e s , symphonies, b a l l e t s , etc. 2. High School a. academics stressed by mom but are d i f f i c u l t f or Susan b. i n grade 10: counsellor suggests a grade 12 course and to aim for Ryerson a f t e r graduation i f she s t i l l wants a degree i n i n t e r i o r design c. Susan does not take senior a r t courses 3. Post high school graduation a. Susan i s a f r a i d to apply to Ryerson r i g h t away and enrols i n some art courses at a l o c a l college and works as a sales clerk i n a clothi n g store b. she v i s i t s Ryerson and i s t o l d she w i l l need to upgrade some of her high school courses c. she enrols i n night school to upgrade d. she applies to Ryerson 4. Waiting time a. Susan i s short l i s t e d a f t e r an interview at Ryerson but i s not accepted immediately because her p o r t f o l i o was lacking b. she enters a period of inaction brought about by the news of only short l i s t i n g and by personal family tragedy c. she receives word to enrol 205 5. Ryerson a. she r e a l i z e s that i t i s not a l l easy work and has some down times b. she i s encouraged by her professors c. she believes i f her instructors have f a i t h i n her then she can also have f a i t h that she can do i t 6. Future a. plans to t r a v e l , perhaps an overseas job b. eventually a business of her own I I . S h i f t s i n time and space 1. home with mom; supportive environment 2. School: a place where i t i s d i f f i c u l t f or her to compete 3. College: enrichment; courses she enjoys 4. V i s i t to Ryerson: affirmation of her plans; some setbacks 5. College and Night School: determined to make i t 6. Ryerson interview: success coupled with disappointment 7. Job: waiting to be accepted 8. Ryerson: affirmation with mixed feelings I I I . R e f l e x i v i t v Susan's career decision i s deeply embedded i n her childhood and adolescent experiences i n a family that surrounded i t s e l f with the art world. Mother provided i n c r e d i b l e experiences for her children, both here and abroad. The influence of these experiences are seen as p o s i t i v e by Susan and she accepts both the molding and the person she has become through the molding without equanimity. IV. Re f l e c t i o n Susan's decision i n some ways seemed u n r e a l — something that was set into motion by her imagination and her experiences, f u e l l e d by her " f i n e r f e e l i n g s " and a supportive environment. Although she was goal oriented, she seemed to be dependent on external affirmation and support systems. There was a hint of emerging independence when she spoke about the energy she put into her courses near the end of the year and 206 how she brought her marks up dramatically through her own endeavours; but i t seemed only a hint. Susan followed up that statement by saying, i f her professors have f a i t h i n her then she should have f a i t h i n he r s e l f as well. In the end I wondered whether she w i l l have the strength to carry out three more years. Wayne I. Chronology 1. Growing up. a. i s o l a t e d ; almost a recluse b. becomes immediately enamoured with computer a f t e r seeing i t the f i r s t time at an uncle's 2. High School a. friends are older than he i s b. chooses enriched courses and enjoys the challenge but does l i t t l e to get marks c. i s not impressed by people who f o o l around i n class d. applies for a college computer program a f t e r graduation 3. Is accepted a. i s not very impressed because i t i s only a college b. sees i t as a bread and butter job that he i s good at 4. Future a. dreams of becoming a writer II . S h i f t s i n time and space 1. Early childhood: i s introduced to the computer 2. High School: enjoys h i s courses but does not l i k e the competition for the scholarships or bursaries 3. College: u t i l i t a r i a n t r a i n i n g I I I . R e f l e x i v i t y Wayne's decision stems from a pragmatic outlook on l i f e rather than being r e f l e c t i v e of Wayne's nature or 207 h i s desires. His career decision, as he sees i t , i s p r a c t i c a l and via b l e with the added benefit that he "knows" computers and l i k e s working with them. Wayne states that computers work l i k e he does. The experience of making the decision i s considered by Wayne as i n t u i t i v e and r e a l i s t i c . He considers himself a r e a l i s t l i v i n g i n a "realism" world. IV. Re f l e c t i o n The dream of becoming a writer seemed so i l l u s i v e to him, that Wayne could not fathom preparing himself for i t . He knew that he needs a job that w i l l support him and eventually support a family. The dream may be a way for him to express a deep soulfulness that seemed to have contributed to hi s feelings of i s o l a t i o n and, i t appears, an u n f u l f i l l e d wish to be understood. James I. Chronology 1. Elementary School. a. builds a simple laser i n grade 7 b. already reads science and el e c t r o n i c magazines 2. High School. a. very academic b. father helps him with computers as needed c. he turns h i s bedroom into a working lab d. he gets a job i n a related area e. he applies to uni v e r s i t y : has no doubt he w i l l be accepted 3. University a. he enjoys h i s f i r s t year engineering b. he works to not get too deeply into debt c. h i s marks are too low to be accepted into 2nd year e l e c t r o n i c s d. he f e e l s trapped but f i g h t s back I I . S h i f t s i n time and space 1. Elementary student: memories of grade 7 2. High school: developing entrepreneurial t a l e n t s 208 a. engineering - p o t e n t i a l to f u l f i l h i s dreams b. job - the r e a l i t y of f i n a n c i a l constraints I I I . R e f l e x i v i t y James' decision grew out of h i s seemingly only i n t e r e s t i n l i f e , e l e c t r o n i c s . Yet the experience of not being accepted into the s p e c i a l t y area of h i s dream did not leave him immobilized. James immediately looked at other alternatives to achieve h i s goal and proceeded to set these into motion when he received word that he had not been accepted. He experienced high l e v e l s of f r u s t r a t i o n while he waited f o r acceptance but seemed to be able to turn that negative energy into productive energy almost overnight. IV. R e f l e c t i o n While he did not consider himself a loner, James seemed to have very l i t t l e contact with anyone that s i g n i f i c a n t l y influenced him or even encouraged him. His experience of deciding c e r t a i n l y seemed one of i s o l a t i o n mixed with purposeful a c t i v i t y towards reaching h i s dream goal. He was very focused. The focus was not just for the occupation alone, but i t seemed, also to f u l f i l a need to share ideas and be accepted. This was evident i n h i s passionate des c r i p t i o n of how engineers bond and how d i f f i c u l t the experience of watching people being "weeded out" of the f a c u l t y was for him. B i l l I. Chronology 1. Private school entered on a scholarship. a. finds he does not l i k e challenging himself b. takes the easy road i n high school c. decides that business i s for him while s t i l l i n grade 10 d. experiences pressure to maintain h i s career goal through the heavy emphasis on careers i n guidance 2. University a. does pre-commerce and applies for commerce 209 b. f e e l s r e s t r i c t e d c. moves away from home to j o i n a f r a t e r n i t y d. decides to switch to the Arts f a c u l t y I I . S h i f t s i n time and space 1. School 2. University a. home b. f r a t e r n i t y house I I I . R e f l e x i v i t y B i l l ' s experience of deciding might be described as one of not being i n control. I t seemed to him that the decision had been made for him through the values espoused by h i s family and through h i s experience i n the private school with i t s heavy emphasis on having a career goal f i r m l y i n place p r i o r to graduation. While he expressed some regrets over t h i s experience because he was not encouraged to explore a wider range of p o s s i b i l i t i e s , part of him seemed to accept i t . B i l l stated that career decisions are not made so much from within as they are made by outside influences. The change i n fa c u l t y appeared to be the f i r s t choice he made without reference to family or friends, but i t was done i n reaction to f e e l i n g r e s t r i c t e d i n Commerce, rather than i n a r e f l e c t i v e manner of deliberate decision making. IV. Reflection Central to t h i s young man's experience was the struggle f o r independence and s e l f worth. Only as he t o l d h i s story did B i l l come to recognize that he was t r y i n g to prove himself to his father and that somehow his career goals were t r y i n g to f u l f i l that which h i s father never f u l f i l l e d himself. While he ph i l o s o p h i c a l l y stated that h i s close brush with f a i l u r e has made him more able to take r i s k s which he had always avoided because of fear of f a i l u r e , I was l e f t wondering about the impact that t h i s need to succeed has had on s e l f worth. The a b i l i t y to take r i s k s was almost o b l i t e r a t e d by his subsequent remark about now f e e l i n g a l o t less i n t e l l i g e n t than he had previously considered himself to be. 210 Janice I. Chronology 1. Age 6: goes to hos p i t a l to have t o n s i l s removed. a. r e a l l y enjoys h o s p i t a l stay b. i s p a r t i c u l a r l y impressed by one nurse c. makes her f i r s t decision for nursing 2. High School. a. takes science courses to prepare for un i v e r s i t y entrance; nursing degree b. l i s t e n s to nurse from U. B. C. and i s again impressed c. makes app l i c a t i o n to a vari e t y of nursing programs 3. Waiting for acceptance. a. works b. takes courses at college but cannot get re l a t e d courses c. begins volunteering i n h o s p i t a l 4. Accepted to college program. I I . S h i f t s i n time and space 1. Hospital: age 6 2. High School 3. Work and waiting period 4. Acceptance I I I . R e f l e x i v i t y Janice believes that decisions are made by f i r s t impressions. While that implied for her a weighing of alt e r n a t i v e s , she stated that the f i n a l decision r e f l e c t s a p o s i t i v e f i r s t impression. Janice f e e l s that most people make decisions i n that fashion and that her experience of making the career decision i s s i m i l a r to the decisions she makes about purchasing a sweater or other item of c l o t h i n g — i t a l l comes back to the f i r s t impression. 211 IV. R e f l e c t i o n While there were no strong statements regarding family r e l a t i o n s h i p s , i t seemed to me that Janice's experience of career decision was underscored by a theme of parental control and d i r e c t i o n versus her need to be independent and her own person. Janice described her parents as supportive and w i l l i n g to permit her to follow her dream but at the same time Janice stated that they f e e l that the program might be too d i f f i c u l t f o r her and that she would perhaps be better o f f becoming a secretary l i k e her s i s t e r . Several statements i n Janice * s story seem to indicate that t h i s has provoked strong c o n f l i c t s between herself and her parents and has strengthened her resolve to meet her goal. 212 APPENDIX X SUMMARY OF THE PROTOCOLS AS READ TO THE NARRATORS AND DISCUSSED I N THE SECOND INTERVIEW The summaries of the protocols that were read to t h e i r authors i n the second interview are typed i n regular type. The additional information gleaned i n the second interview, has been added i n i t a l i c s . Joyce (A p o s t s c r i p t which needs to be a preface.) In an off-the-tape conversation subsequent to the second interview, Joyce told me that while she had been considering medicine as a career since elementary school, and while she had always enjoyed the sciences, her struggle to come to a decision resulted from not knowing whether she was doing t h i s for herself or for her parents. The parents valued the sciences higher than other types of education and wanted t h e i r daughter to enter an occupation that was science based. Joyce f e l t that she had to be sure that medicine was what she wanted; that she was not pursuing that as a goal in order to please her parents. Joyce had no objections to my paraphrasing t h i s part of the conversation and including it in my summary. Joyce stated that she came from a regular "Joe Blow" family; b a s i c a l l y blue c o l l a r . Only her father had aspired to go beyond that and had achieved a degree i n engineering. I t seemed that the roots of some of Joyce's c o n f l i c t i n making her choice lay there/ On the one hand she seemed insecure and uncomfortable i n her r o l e as a "med student", on the other she had demonstrated throughout her l i f e that marks were important and success i n school was highly valued. She even "gave up two precious teenage years" (which she now wishes she would have spent i n developing her s o c i a l s k i l l s ) , i n order to be a member of the baccalaureate program, which i n her school attracted the academic e l i t e whom Joyce described as "not necessarily well rounded" students. Her e f f o r t s i n school appear to have paid o f f f i n a n c i a l l y . She entered S.F.U. on a scholarship; and 213 the summer before entering med school she stated that she had a l o t of free time, presumably because she was continuing to have, at least i n part, her education funded through scholarships. This observation was confirmed in the second interview. Joyce's struggle with self-confidence was evident throughout the narrative from comments such as "I wasn't assured...of myself, I often put myself down" and so on, despite of the fac t that she "never doubted" her academic a b i l i t i e s . I suspect that t h i s probably arose out of the family dynamics which did not permit her to t e s t her a b i l i t y to make decisions and deal with the consequences. I t seemed that her father made a l l the family decisions. Joyce spoke long and eloquently about the decision making process she underwent to come to her decision. She stated that she received some professional guidance i n decision making which provided her with the s k i l l s to make a decision and gave her the impetus to apply to the f a c u l t y of medicine. While she risked a great deal i n applying—much of what l i t t l e self-confidence she had was put on the l i n e , (which she recognized as she did a l o t of procrastinating p r i o r to putting i n the a p p l i c a t i o n ) — s h e was not going to r i s k a l l of her self-esteem. So as the summer progressed, she planned for a back-up profession, teaching, i n the event that she was not accepted into medicine. Joyce continued to debate going to medical school v i r t u a l l y the whole summer a f t e r she had submitted her app l i c a t i o n . Several days before the l e t t e r of acceptance arrived, she f i n a l l y spoke out loud, to her mother, the words that committed her to t r y for medicine. As i f to affir m her growing confidence, acceptance came and her l i f e , i t seemed, turned around. The words she used to describe that f e e l i n g gave me a sense of how much of herself had r e a l l y been t i e d up i n t h i s r i s k : "elated, ...never had such a moment of joy in my l i f e , . . . y e l l i n g out loud, singing" and so on. At t h i s point in the second interview, Joyce again beamed and nodded her head, as if she was r e l i v i n g that moment of j o y . From that moment on Joyce seemed to have come into her own. She described the subsequent decision of moving out on her own i n matter of fac t terms. She stated that she became more relaxed during her f i r s t year i n medicine and was able to do some of the 214 enjoyable s o c i a l things that she had put o f f for so long. She also noted that she became assertive i n her r e l a t i o n s h i p s so that she did not f e e l so taken advantage of by her friends. She admits that having made the decision, and having that decision affirmed gave her the courage to keep making changes. Joyce s t i l l has some misgivings about her rel a t i o n s h i p with her mother. As mom and dad separated the year before she entered medical school, she f e l t obligated to return home during the summer to support her mother emotionally. She describes t h i s as being more than j u s t a s o c i a l obligation, as her mother had become dependent on her daughter being a v a i l a b l e . Joyce had r e a l l y f e l t free l i v i n g away from home while i n her f i r s t year at medical school and was s t i l l f e e l i n g vulnerable i n terms of the old parent-child patterns that had been established over the years. However, Joyce also recognized that i t would be a lim i t e d time at home and that she would return to her apartment fo r the subsequent year at uni v e r s i t y . In a l l i t seemed that Joyce's experience of making a career decision was one of turmoil as she struggled with family values, self-concept issues and personal uncertainty. At the same time, having made the decision was experienced as inc r e d i b l y freeing, g i v i n g her the incentive and courage to continue making decisions and to grow i n her independence. I t also seemed to be a lonely experience. Joyce did not receive a l o t of encouragement as a person. While both parents had provided her with the work values and educational values that permitted her to do well i n school, i t appeared that they had not provided the kind of personal development support that would allow her to make decisions and possibly deal with the f a i l u r e s . I t seemed that the length and the i n t e n s i t y of the struggle to come to a decision was based on an unstated value that she needed to be successful at whatever she f i n a l l y chose to do. At this point in the second interview, Joyce stated that growing up in her family was filled with mixed messages. On the one hand she was encouraged to become financially independent, on the other hand the parents had very high expectations for t h e i r children and demanded their obedience. School also did not seem to be much help. While Joyce described her biology teacher as a "father f i g u r e " for whom she would do anything, she did not 215 describe him i n terms of warmth or caring but rather as someone who pushed her to the l i m i t . She admired him because he gave her the academic confidence by pushing her, but there appeared to be no other type of caring i n terms of her as a person outside of the academics. Joyce reflected on t h i s statement for a moment when we got to t h i s point, and then said that she had not really ever thought about it in those terms. But y e s , it was l i k e her father. She also admired him but had difficulty feeling warm towards him as w e l l . Nor d i d school provide her with the kind of career guidance she would have wanted. Joyce spoke b r i e f l y and humorously about the CHOICES program which, she said, d i d not r e a l l y give her any choices. What she needed then, was a person, not a computer. Nevertheless, even at uni v e r s i t y when she had found a counsellor, most of her career search was done i n i s o l a t i o n . She believes that many young people do not have the t o o l s and therefore perhaps not the motivation to do the kind of career search that she undertook— every Friday afternoon looking up jobs and reading about them i n the career guidance o f f i c e of S.F.U.—and are therefore unable to make a decision. Instead, Joyce observes, they hope that somehow they w i l l stumble on something that w i l l i n t e r e s t them. Joyce thinks of herself as unique among her peers. She says that many of her peers have not made a decision, and c e r t a i n l y not a conscious decision the way that she had. I noted a sense of ambivalence about that. On the one hand she admires some of her peers who seem to be able to take l i f e as i t comes and not worry about a career, on the other she i s very happy that she has made her decision because she believes once that a career decision has been made i t empowers the i n d i v i d u a l to make other decisions and to become independent. Joyce was a r t i c u l a t e , well spoken and generally harmonious i n her verbal and non-verbal expressions. She was unafraid to speak about her i n s e c u r i t i e s and the struggle with self-confidence that appears to be s t i l l a main issue for her. For example she i s looking forward to her own practise i n family medicine a f t e r her three years medical school and two years internship " i f I f e e l confident enough" and then adds h a s t i l y but "I should be by then". 216 Joyce finds that she s t i l l puts herself down when she i s with her friends, i n order to make them f e e l more comfortable with her ("they put themselves down too"), and she i s unsure about the attention that she i s being paid by friends and r e l a t i v e s as a "med-school" student. She would prefer being treated o r d i n a r i l y . F i n a l l y Joyce has some concerns about her future as a doctor. She hopes that she w i l l eventually marry someone who can respect her as a professional person and w i l l not consider her career a f r i l l . Respect, equality, independence, service are some of the outstanding values I became aware of as I read the t r a n s c r i p t and l i s t e n e d to the tape. Here i s an i n t e l l i g e n t young woman who i s experiencing both joy and uncertainty, pride and self-doubt, independence and dependence simultaneously. The decision has made i t easier for her to see he r s e l f as capable, but i t has also underlined the very deep seated fears that perhaps outside of her i n t e l l e c t , she may not be a capable person. Nevertheless, the decision has also given her the hope that just as she was able to overcome the fear of r e j e c t i o n by the medical school administrators, she w i l l also be able to use her newly developed s k i l l s to make future decisions (except i n the area of personal r e l a t i o n s h i p s where she f e e l s the too l s she has would be of no use). Even i n saying that, she i s also acknowledging that the confidence one gains i n making these kinds of decisions, give one the courage to make others. Joyce l i s t e n e d c a r e f u l l y as I read, no longer looking at the t r a n s c r i p t i n front of her, but s e t t l i n g back into the cushions of the c h e s t e r f i e l d as i f to understand f u l l y the story she had t o l d . Except for a few comments i n between as noted, she l i s t e n e d s i l e n t l y and then stated q u i e t l y that she was surprised at how f u l l y I had been able to restructure the experience. She f e l t she r e a l l y could not add anything. I shut o f f the tape, and then she began t e l l i n g me about her experience of growing up i n her family. She said she couldn't t e l l i t on tape but that i f I wanted to use the a d d i t i o n a l information that I would be welcome to do so. I chose to place a small excerpt of what she t o l d me at the beginning of t h i s summary since i t seemed to provide a background for Joyce's story on her experience of making a career decision. 217 Mary Mary i s a well-focused, bright and happy person whose career decision was exceptionally d i f f i c u l t as i t went against the wishes of her father who appears to be a very powerful person i n her l i f e . Nevertheless, i n freeing h e r s e l f from the expectations of father, Mary seemed to demonstrate her own power which has, i t seems, contributed greatly to a sense of self - r e s p e c t and personal value. Although Mary grew up i n a two parent family and has one s i b l i n g , i t appeared from the story that father was the key figure i n her l i f e . The r o l e of the s i s t e r was seen by Mary as important because she had spent much of her school l i f e competing against her s i s t e r who was more capable i n the sciences. Once Mary had decided to enter the arena of business, t h i s competition faded as she recognized her own self-worth i n the area of her choice. Mary's career choice seemed to have been made by accident. Defying the wishes of her parents and her school counsellor as well as school academic t r a d i t i o n , she chose to take i n her grade 12 year, two non-academic courses i n the area of business. She had a l l the requirements for entering u n i v e r s i t y already and these courses were chosen because she wanted something d i f f e r e n t . In her f i r s t semester i n grade 12 she took accounting and while she found that accounting i t s e l f was not p a r t i c u l a r l y i n t e r e s t i n g to her, her teacher offered so much i n the way of information about business that she was immediately enamoured with the idea of entering t h i s f i e l d . By the time she took marketing i n the second semester, she was convinced of t h i s career choice. Mary speaks with some anger about school and the parameters of what i s "academic" and what i s not that school puts on courses. She f e l t that she was doing t h i s (career choice) a l l alone. There was no support from the school for her to investigate the business courses since she was encouraged to take more sciences as e l e c t i v e s instead of courses which "would not count" at the un i v e r s i t y . Mary believes that schools do students a great d i s s e r v i c e by not encouraging them to take some courses just for in t e r e s t i n grades 11 and 12 when most students are beginning to think i n terms of post secondary goals. She f e l t very unprepared and 218 believed that students went to u n i v e r s i t y only to study sciences as sciences were r e a l l y the only academic courses worth anything. She also believes that there are many students who are struggling with courses that they are not p a r t i c u l a r l y interested i n when they could be succeeding at other courses that they could be interested i n , simply because they do not get the kind of guidance that helps them understand a l l the possible options at u n i v e r s i t y and at other post secondary i n s t i t u t i o n s . I t took a l o t of courage for Mary to say to her parents "Well I want these courses" since her parents too were of the opinion that i f the u n i v e r s i t i e s wouldn't look at the courses she wished to take, then they weren't worth taking. I t was even harder for her to confront her father a year l a t e r with the news that she was not going to ever take another science course at u n i v e r s i t y but was preparing herself for entering business administration. At t h i s time she did receive some encouragement both from her mother and her s i s t e r , but her father did not discuss her decision for more than a year and a h a l f . Not u n t i l she was accepted into the business administration f a c u l t y did he f i n a l l y accept her choice. I t seemed that she was more elated over that than being accepted. The weight of going against her father's desires lay heavily on her shoulders. In describing her choice, Mary's vocabulary was r i c h i n adjectives and descriptive phrases: " d e f i n i t e l y what I wanted; I enjoyed; no question about [ i t ] ; i t was d e f i n i t e l y r i g h t ; I love i t ; so competitive; r e a l l y f e e l l i k e I'm learning; r e a l l y enjoy" and so on. When I asked her how she f e l t at the time that she applied, she said she applied early because a l o t of people want to get into the f a c u l t y and she could have another chance at applying again i f she didn't make i t . But even then she was worried and the sense of r e l i e f that she would be able to get i n and do what she wanted was r e a l l y great when the news of acceptance came. "I was very excited, very excited. . . . i t was nice, I think i t was just a nice f e e l i n g . " Although Mary stated that many of her friends d i d not make i t , she f e e l s that sometimes i t i s because they are not perhaps doing what they r e a l l y want and therefore not putting i n the e f f o r t required to get the marks. S.F.U. appears to be heavily geared to business 219 and the competition to get into the f a c u l t y i s f i e r c e . Others, she believes are giving up on t h e i r dream too e a s i l y . I f you want something as badly as she wanted i t , i t i s d i f f i c u l t to imagine giving up on i t . So she entered her pre-business courses with her goal i n mind. "I knew what I had to take, the grades I had to make...And when I had that sort of a goal to meet, I had a l o t of energy there." There was no doubt, no hesitancy i n making t h i s career decision. I t was a freeing thing. A more d i f f i c u l t decision was that of entering co-op. I t would extend her time for graduation and she was unsure whether the benefits would be such that she wanted to extend that time. I t seems that Mary i s quite u t i l i t a r i a n i n her approach to her studies. They need to give her what she wants or there i s no point. Perhaps a f t e r a l l the years of taking science courses which she didn't want she f e e l s that she no longer wants to become fettered i n anything that w i l l not give her the excitement and the learning that she i s looking fo r . Unlike with the career choice, Mary did consult with her parents and with "everyone" before committing herse l f , only tenuously, to the co-op program. However, with the job she has t h i s summer as a r e s u l t of being i n the program, she no longer has any doubts. The job i s not just u t i l i z i n g the s k i l l s she has already learned, but i s giving her challenges i n business as well, such as, i n her opinion, she could not have gained i f she had gotten just a regular summer job. Her i n t e r e s t s are broad. She enjoys finance and investment banking as well as marketing but she i s open to learning v i r t u a l l y anything i n business. Her immediate goal i s to work i n a corporation but her long term goals include an M.B.A. While she i s goal oriented Mary recognizes that she also tends towards being a "routine person". Once having set goals she finds i t more d i f f i c u l t to make changes which i s one of the reasons she had such a d i f f i c u l t time deciding on the co-op program. Success appears also to be very important. She can be very philosophical about friends not getting t h e i r goals, but i t i s d i f f i c u l t for her to imagine not making hers. Once having committed herself to co-op, she experienced a l o t of stress with the decision because she was not getting the responses to her job applications that she 220 f e l t she should have gotten. I t may also be once again hinged to the aspect of control. Having j u s t experienced making a decision that was outside the control of her father, i t may have been very s t r e s s f u l f o r her to experience someone else's control regarding where she goes and what she does for a job. "Because I'd f i n a l l y committed to t h i s program and I wasn't getting any r e s u l t s and I was l i k e 'Oh maybe t h i s was the wrong decision'." She stated that she f e l t " r e a l l y rejected because [she] hadn't any interviews or anything." In terms of giving advice to others making career decisions, Mary believes that i t i s e s s e n t i a l to know who you are and what you want f i r s t . "I had to answer to myself before I'd answer to anyone else and I'm driven by what I want not what other people want fo r me." She f e e l s that one cannot be motivated by someone else's goals; one has to have a dream of one's own. One needs to have an honest look at oneself to be able to shake o f f the expectations others have of us; but i t ' s worth i t because i t w i l l a f f e c t the r e s t of one's l i f e . She also f e e l s that i f one believes to be on track and then finds out one i s n ' t , i t ' s O.K. to change one's mind, but i f one has a goal, then one should be prepared to r e a l l y work at i t and not just change one's mind because one i s n ' t accepted to a program the f i r s t time. Furthermore, she f e e l s that many people are pressured into taking a course of studies because that seems to be the thing to do, rather than doing i t because one wants to. I t i s important to explore and f i n d out what i s available but i f you don't r e a l l y know what you l i k e , i t i s very d i f f i c u l t to get motivated. To do that she suggests looking into d i f f e r e n t f a c u l t i e s , t a l k i n g to d i f f e r e n t people. She believes that one should r e s i s t anyone's influence u n t i l one has seen a l l the options. Finding a person who w i l l be h e l p f u l to present d i f f e r e n t options i s O.K. as long as they don't push t h e i r ideas. She said that she would engage i n making future decisions i n the same manner as she made the decision to go into business. However I believe that she has not r e a l l y stood back to understand the process she went through i n making that decision. She made i t more on gut f e e l i n g than through a well developed plan, and although i t turned out to be the best decision f o r her, the f a c t that she could not r e a l l y stand back and 221 examine how the decision was made, made the decision to go f o r co-op a d i f f i c u l t and unsure venture. I got the f e e l i n g that she learned a l i t t l e more about how she functions when she made the decision for co-op, than when she made the f i r s t decision regarding her career choice. The f i r s t decision, seemed highly emotional, while the second problem needed to be wrestled with. She needed to come to terms with herself as being routine and not l i k i n g changes i n plans; she needed to recognize that she did not l i k e to deal with unknowns and that she struggled with lack of control i n the s i t u a t i o n . Her coping mechanisms, when she has a problem, i s to throw herself into her work and block out the problem. " I t ' s t e r r i b l e a c t u a l l y , but I, I can evade a l l other problems by throwing myself into school and I excel i n that school and that gives me a l o t of comfort..." At the same time, standing up to her father was a major accomplishment. Her decision to go into business "taught [her] to do what [she] wants to do." And, she adds, "I learned a l o t about making my own decisions.." apart from her father. She can now believe i n h e r s e l f . She knows that she can succeed at whatever she sets her mind to. As long as she wants i t , she knows she can get i t . I t i s a very freeing, very s e l f - a f f i r m i n g f e e l i n g to be able to know that one i s capable and can stand independently even against very powerful persons in one's l i f e i n order to make a dream come true. As she spoke, I was conscious of how she was i n t e r n a l i z i n g the truths about herself which i n turn would strengthen her future resolves even more. She used words and phrases that b u i l t up her strength throughout the interview: "I put every e f f o r t into [ i t ] ; I maximised; I'm s a t i s f i e d ; I learned a l o t about how I handle myself; I've learned to think for myself" and so on. In terms of others, Mary f e e l s that she i s not the same as the average young person. She said about 90 % of her friends have not yet made a r e a l decision, others have not met t h e i r goals because they have not had the dedication to i t . She also believes that many students s t i l l are i n the mode of comparing themselves to each other while she has stopped doing that and i s interested i n only doing her best. She can be s a t i s f i e d with herself i f she f e e l s she has done the best even i f the f i n a l grade i s not up at the top. A "C" i n a subject that she r e a l l y worked for, gives her 222 a great deal more s a t i s f a c t i o n than an "A" i n a subject that perhaps she did not put as much e f f o r t into. She speaks of i n t e r n a l disappointments and i n t e r n a l fe e l i n g s of success which are, I believe, genuine feel i n g s for Mary, rather than just p l a t i t u d e s . As f a r as guidance for herself she did not receive any that was useful. On the contrary, i t seemed that there were blockages. I t was a decision made i n i s o l a t i o n ; she f e l t alone. "Sometimes I wish someone would have sat me down and said 'Well here's what you could take i n un i v e r s i t y ' . Nobody ever d i d that." She muses that i t could have happened that she missed taking business. "I might have just followed....I think a l o t of people don't step forward and say 'Oh wait a minute' and a l o t of people go on when things are wrong...I think people need some guidance i n there." Mary thinks i t i s d i f f i c u l t to make career decisions because of the many options but she also believes that there are a l o t of opportunities to get information. The most d i f f i c u l t part of career decision making i s the pressure put on by other people who wish to influence you on which careers are better. She f e e l s that schools bear a l o t of that burden, e s p e c i a l l y because they tend to want to channel academic students into c e r t a i n d i r e c t i o n s most of which are science related. However other influences include the pressure of money. Many students may wish one career but choose another because the money seems better. Peer pressure for career choice i s another problem. Many people are influenced by what t h e i r friends are doing and look no farther. Mainly she would l i k e i n d i v i d u a l s to make t h e i r own decisions because i t i s such a freeing thing. " I t didn't j u s t help me as a career decision, i t helped me as a person." And there i s no doubt when I l i s t e n to the tape or read the t r a n s c r i p t that i t i s true. "I want everybody to get that because i t . . . g i v e s you confidence as a person. That you know you can do something, that you're worth something." There were no changes to the summary following the follow up interview. Mary felt that the interview had been very p o s i t i v e for her and had permitted her to reflect on her decisions already after she had left here the f i r s t time. She appreciated a copy of the summary and felt that it was good to see someone e l s e ' s 223 perspective on the whole experience. She f e l t it certainly represented well what she had said and enabled her to see the whole experience together which i s "something people don't do" and something she had never taken the time to do for herself. Surinder Career choice for Surinder appears not to have been an option. Like many other students she began to consider career p o s s i b i l i t i e s i n about grade 11. I n i t i a l l y her school provided some guidance through the CHOICES program which she completed i n grade 11 but she f e l t that i t was no help to her. The job options that came up for her were not, i n her opinion suitable to her i n t e r e s t s or to her family's expectations for her. A subsequent v i s i t to the career counsellor i n the school proved to be even more disappointing as he tended to be "negative" towards her ideas for higher education, t e l l i n g her that she would probably not be able to do i t . However, Surinder was not discouraged. On the contrary, i t seemed to give her additional motivation as she began to think i n terms of "I know myself" and what she was capable of doing when she was motivated. Motivation was not just i n t e r n a l . Her family background i s East Indian. She comes from a l i n e of well-educated, "higher status" people. Even her mother has a grade 10 education, which Surinder said, for her generation, was about two times the educational l e v e l of the average woman i n India. Her father i s well educated and holds a responsible job. She has uncles i n India who are doctors; other r e l a t i v e s with other science degrees and even her grandfather was already a very well educated person. During the follow up interview she stated that this was the grandfather on her mother's side who also was in the British armed s e r v i c e . Her grandfather on her father's side had lead "a pretty easy life," that i s , his family had wealth and he did not have to work hard for a l i v i n g . Education i s valued very highly i n Surinder's family, not only for i t ' s own sake but as a symbol of the family's status and to ensure that a future spouse would come from at least as well-educated a background. Beyond the expectations of a good education, which meant not only high school but also a suitable career 224 based on post-secondary education, Surinder's parents had no s p e c i f i c career expectations for her. She was free to choose, as long as once she had chosen and committed herself to something, that she did not change her mind. A change of mind i n her s o c i a l community i s considered a f a i l u r e and could be interpreted as a lack of i n t e l l i g e n c e or of commitment to task. Even her tentative exploration of physiotherapy, although supported by her parents, was held suspect by another member of the extended family. Surinder could not af f o r d to choose a career, that, once she had started the program, she did not l i k e , or perhaps worse yet, a program where she would not be accepted. This young woman was r i s k i n g not only her own self-concept i n making a choice i t seemed, but the reputation of her family as well. As Surinder put i t : "This was sort of biggest and the hardest decision I've ever made. ... because... i n our family, i f you don't have a career decision made...they think that you can•t handle i t . . . t h e y think that you're a f a i l u r e . ... I didn't want to f a i l b a s i c a l l y . ...[so] I was r e a l l y hoping that I would l i k e i t . " In addition to having high values for education, she described her family as also valuing material goods, jobs, income and housing. She herself admits to enjoying the f i n e r things i n l i f e and being motivated by the thought of a B.M.W. at the age of 25. Money i s important to her and one of the guide posts for her career decision was that she was not prepared to study four years only to f i n d that there were no occupations open at the end of that time, or perhaps "making only $5.00 an hour" a f t e r a lengthy t r a i n i n g period. There needs to be "incentive", and incentive was i n part for Surinder, the monetary rewards of a job. While her parents valued education and a career i t seemed that they did not wish her to enter something that might take s i x or seven or more years to complete. The four year program of physiotherapy would not have been a problem but doctor or lawyer seemed to have been out of the question. Surinder appears to have accepted that without much question as she also wanted to "get on" with i t and f i n i s h school i n a reasonable amount of time. Surinder stated that she wanted a non-traditional type of job. Possibly t h i s was because the competition 225 i n her larger s o c i a l c i r c l e appeared to be f i e r c e and a job that i s not run-of-the m i l l would provide her family with the required degree of status and he r s e l f with a reasonable buffer from being compared. Surinder resented the comparisons and the competition within her s o c i a l m i l i e u and since no one r e a l l y knew what a person i n Occupational Health and Safety did, i t was quite a safe choice. On the other hand, Surinder i s capable of a l o t of competition and does not shy away from i t when i t i s not family oriented. She had to f i g h t to become accepted into the program because of her youth and, she noted, also i n part because of her gender. She i s very aware that t h i s i s a non-traditional female occupation as i n the f i v e years i t has been offered at B.C.I.T., t h i s i s the f i r s t year that four females have been enroled i n a class of 16 (presumably larger at the beginning as she mentioned that students had already dropped out before the end of the f i r s t year.) In the second interview she said that they had started out with twenty-two students in the program. In addition the program head had mentioned that there were mainly males i n the program and cautioned her during the interview that she might f e e l out of place because of her age and gender. Her persistence and focus paid o f f and she was accepted into the program which turned out to be an excellent choice for her. She described i t as very i n t e r e s t i n g , challenging and providing her with excellent opportunities for a job as well as for job advancement. She also appreciated the v a r i e t y of settings that people i n t h i s occupation work i n . A story that she t o l d of how she, at the beginning of the course, proved herself to her group as a capable and self-motivating person who was also cooperative and n o n - c r i t i c a l of her group members, exemplified Surinder' drive to succeed. While she was surprised that they p u b l i c l y recognized her with a bouquet of roses, she appeared to also take i t i n her s t r i d e . She spoke well of her classmates whom she admired for t h e i r l e v e l s of education, the s a c r i f i c e s they had to make ("most of them gave up well-paying jobs to come into the program") and the amount of work that they put into the program i n order to be successful. She also appreciated that they consider her as a peer even though they are much older and more educated than she 226 i s , and had come with much more l i f e and work experience to the course than she had. When Surinder described herself i n r e l a t i o n s h i p to her extended family and t h e i r expectations, i t was in t e r e s t i n g to note that she used primarily the t h i r d person ("you", "they"), while i n describing the program and her r e l a t i o n s h i p to i t , she frequently used the f i r s t person ("I", "we"). I t seemed that she was separating herself from the negative experience of stress and competition i n the family milieu, while taking ownership of the a c t i v i t i e s and the competition i n the educational setting. Surinder was quite interested in this when we came to it in the second interview. I had anticipated that she might be and had brought along the verbatim transcripts which she began to pour over. Then she said "Yeah. Right. Yeah." Surinder did not state that she f e l t that she was d i f f e r e n t from her peers, but she said that she was surprised how few of her former classmates had ac t u a l l y gone ahead and done what they said they would do. She f e l t that many of them had expressed plans to attend post-secondary i n s t i t u t i o n s , primarily u n i v e r s i t i e s , but only the very top i n her class had gone on. I t was evident that t h i s puzzled her as she said over and over again that she "could not believe i t " and that she d i d n 1 t know how they would ever manage without a decent career to support themselves. Career advice to others i s the same as the advice she gave h e r s e l f . Surinder believes that the best thing anyone can do i s to research the jobs one might be interested i n and ac t u a l l y go out and watch people at t h e i r jobs. She believes that computers have no way of knowing what people a c t u a l l y do and what ind i v i d u a l s f e e l that they are capable of. Knowing one's i n t e r e s t s and what i s important to oneself i s also important to making career decisions. And she fe e l s strongly that i t i s important to s t a r t looking at want ads i n the newspapers to see i f the career one has chosen i s i n demand. In the area of motivation and achievement, Surinder had some extra advice. She thinks that i t i s important to surround oneself with the accoutrements of the occupation one plans to enter. She fe e l s that i f you have pictures, books and so on around, i t w i l l help to keep one focused; and i f , i n addition, one begins to dress the part, then i t w i l l be easier to put oneself 227 into the r o l e of the occupation and encourage one to succeed. She believes that being immersed p h y s i c a l l y i n the environment i s h e l p f u l to success and i n the future for upward movement i n the occupation one chooses. In the follow-up interview Surinder explained how she had done these things for herself and how she was presently helping her brother, who had j u s t entered junior high, and has expressed an i n t e r e s t in aero-space engineering, do the same. At the same time her own future plans are somewhat fuzzy. She would l i k e to enter her job r i g h t a f t e r graduation but she also stated that she may not be working for two or three years a f t e r graduation. There was no explanation given for t h i s discrepancy between what she had stated about herself e a r l i e r and what she was appearing to express about herself i n the future, and at the time I did not query i t . She did state immediately thereafter that she was always working, even while she was yet i n high school, and that she was not the type to s i t around home watching the soaps. I t seemed almost as i f she was not sure whether she would be able to f i n d suitable employment as she said " I t ' s hard to compete out there (pause) everyone older and (pause) more experienced, more education (pause) and when you're ethnic too (pause) and you're female (pause) i t ' s always a male dominated f i e l d . " I found that that did not make sense i n terms of the drive and the persistence she showed i n order to be accepted to the program. When we came to this part in the follow-up she looked surprised and said "Did I say t h a t ? . . . I don't remember saying thaaaat!" We looked at the transcript to find the sentence. "Wow, I guess, I guess s o . No, I'd be out there looking for a j o b , right." (Interviewer) "You weren't going to wait?" (Surinder) No I would try to compete with everyone e l s e . . . a n d if I didn't find one, I'd j u s t keep trying until I could find one that was suitable for me." She found it a "paradox" that she would have said that and kept shaking her head at what it might have meant at the time. Surinder believes that i t i s d i f f i c u l t for young people to decide on a career. There are "so many more choices" now days that i t can become "confusing". She believes that unless you are r e a l l y "motivated" to do something and are w i l l i n g to learn "from everything" 228 and "everyone" you are not going to be able to make i t i n the world today. A l l i n a l l she i s comfortable with her choice. Surinder wanted a career i n the sciences, and a professional job where she could dress nice and work i n nice surroundings. "This gives [her] both." When we had finished and I asked her if anything had stood out for her she said "Yeah. The whole thing." Paused and then added "I think the motivation p a r t . You really have to be motivated, and be p e r s i s t e n t . . . [ a n d have] confidence in yourself, that you can make it. If you don't, then i t ' s very hard." When I asked if she had any other thoughts or feelings that came up for her she looked over the summary sheet until she came to a spot, pointed to it and laughed "I can't believe you wrote it in; I was j u s t joking." I said "Well, it seemed reasonable, you said you needed incentive." She laughed again. "Yeah, yea. I have one by the way; my parents gave me one (B.M.W.). Now I want a vet." _ Wayne Wayne i s a young man who has just been accepted into a two year computer information systems course at Kwantlen College. He spoke thoughtfully and at length about some things and dismissed other guestions abruptly with a yes or no. I t was as i f some of the topics were either not worth discussing or perhaps too f u l l of yet unexplored issues that he did not wish to examine at t h i s time. In the follow up interview Wayne said: "In my interview when I didn't go into depth it was because there was nothing to go into depth for." Wayne chose to study at a college l e v e l because of f i n a n c i a l constraints. At one point he said that he was c y n i c a l and pessimistic, but I found, at lea s t i n the area of choice of i n s t i t u t i o n , that, rather than being c y n i c a l , he was f e e l i n g discouraged. The scholarships offered at the school l e v e l seemed i n s u f f i c i e n t for him to r e a l i s t i c a l l y go for a uni v e r s i t y entrance program and although he took what enriched courses he could, h i s lack of in t e r e s t i n the sciences, and his i n t e r e s t i n the business courses appear to have defined h i s options as continuing on to a college. I sensed that although he might have wanted to go the route of a university, i t seemed monetarily so f a r out of reach that he did not seek the guidance 229 of what was f i n a n c i a l l y a vailable. From h i s comments i t became evident that he was only aware of the small school based scholarships and bursaries and about educational loans. He had heard of overwhelming debt loads incurred by students at u n i v e r s i t i e s and was not prepared to t i e himself to that. When discussing t h i s summary with him, I would l i k e to ask Wayne what he would choose to do i f money were no object. When I asked Wayne about this his eyes became mischivious and he said with humour: "Well if money was no object I wouldn't need to go to college." However, becoming serious again it was evident that he really had not seriously considered university as he was not sure of how long it took to get a Bachelor's degree: "I wouldn't want to spend l i k e 8 years at university j u s t to get l i k e a Bachelor's or whatever." and added wistfully "I'm not that good of a student."" However, if it were only three or four years and money was no object "I'd probably be going to university, yeah." Whether i t was f i n a n c i a l or whether i t was because of a genuine pragmatic outlook on l i f e , Wayne chose computers rather than to study h i s "dream" occupation, becoming a writer. He considered his choice of computers a r e a l i s t i c one and writing, part of his romantic nature. Even if money were no object and he could attend university, he would s t i l l choose to study computers rather than writing. There does not appear to be any c o n f l i c t i n t h i s choice as Wayne's r o l e models for writers are those who have an occupation and for whom writing i s a second occupation. I t also seemed that he recognized that fame i s elusive and that writers are "dime a dozen". Therefore he f e l t that he's more apt to make a l i v i n g with a p r a c t i c a l occupation. In terms of decision making, I found Wayne to be somewhat unique. He stated that he makes his decisions i n t e r n a l l y , as i f by sixth's sense. He was unable to r e a l l y verbalize how he knows what he must do; he said he j u s t knows. And while he does not always do what he knows inside he should, he says he i s almost "dead on" i n terms of the r i g h t decision every time. Wayne believes that t h i s sense i s inside of everyone. I n s t i n c t i v e l y we know what we should be doing; but we are taught to write everything down as i f somehow the answer would pop up on a page when i t i s a l l the while i n our heads. That i s why, he explained, he knew he 230 was going to be working with computers from the day that he saw h i s f i r s t computer at h i s uncle's place. He didn't know exactly what he would be doing, but he knew i t would be with computers. Wayne f e l t so secure with h i s decisions, that he said he would continue to r e l y on h i s sixth's sense f o r a l l h i s major decisions. Since the method has worked well for him i n the past, he did not anticipate changing h i s s t y l e of decision making. There appeared to be no people i n Wayne's l i f e who have made a s i g n i f i c a n t impact on h i s career decision, or even on h i s school l i f e . He seemed to have discouraged h i s parents from becoming involved i n h i s educational decisions; and while he believes that they are happy with h i s choice of careers, he has been perhaps more successful i n warding them off than he had wanted to, as he w i s t f u l l y stated that "they didn't take me out to dinner or anything...but they are happy with the choice." I f e l t that Wayne was ready to be recognized for making the r i g h t decisions and that the recognition was not being expressed i n a manner that he might have desired. His uncle provided a use of computer when Wayne v i s i t e d , but did not seem to have provided any guidance beyond that. Nor d i d Wayne mention any s i g n i f i c a n t teachers or counsellors that inspired him, even though he seemed to enjoy school for the knowledge that was avail a b l e there from h i s teachers. Only h i s f r i e n d Maureen was i n any way connected to h i s career decision. But I had the f e e l i n g that t h i s connection also was only i n the sense of friendship; the sharing of what one i s doing on a day to day basis, rather than i n terms of an older f r i e n d mentoring the younger f r i e n d . Wayne said that he i s shy; that he was "almost recluse" i n h i s younger years. Nevertheless I sensed a deep a f f i n i t y to people. He desired to be understood by and to understand people. And while he stated that he does not have much patience with people who are at a "lower l e v e l of understanding" than himself, I believed that that was a reference to the people i n some of h i s classes who he described d i s d a i n f u l l y as "just goof[ing]" around and not having a serious attitude to learning, rather than people who may be of lesser i n t e l l i g e n c e than himself. He described one of h i s friends who had d i f f i c u l t y i n academics but who was serious i n h i s school work. Wayne said that t h i s guy 231 r e a l l y knew what he wanted to do and what l i f e i s a l l about. The part that struck me, and which made me believe that Wayne has a deep understanding of humanity, was his d e s c r i p t i o n of how he would help someone f i n d a career goal. At f i r s t when I posed the question on how he would help someone make a career choice, Wayne was adamant about not giving advice even when i t was asked for . He said that while people at the time may want advice, and may even take i t , they would also hold the person accountable i f things didn't turn out well. He did not wish to be held accountable for anyone else's success or f a i l u r e ; only for h i s own. Instead, he would have the person t a l k about themselves; would through discussion t r y to learn what the person was about and then t r y put himself i n the r o l e of the person. Wayne believes that i f you can i d e n t i f y with someone at t h e i r l e v e l , then you can say " I f I were you, I would do t h i s , because...". He does not believe i n pen and paper kinds of decision making but rather i n discussing what i s important so that what people already know about themselves becomes clear to them. Wayne believes that he i s d i f f e r e n t from h i s peers, not because he has chosen a career path—most of his friends have done t h a t — b u t because of h i s understanding of himself. He f e e l s that many young people f o o l themselves into b e l i e v i n g that they are learning simply because they write copious notes. He l i s t e n s and wrestles with understanding. He knows that the understanding " i s the most important part". He i s also at t h i s point i n his l i f e wrestling with a personal b e l i e f system. I t seems that he i s not neg l e c t f u l of any aspect of s e l f . He i s challenging himself i n t e l l e c t u a l l y ; i s maintaining a f i t n e s s program; i s developing s o c i a l s k i l l s by increasing h i s c i r c l e of friends; i s increasing h i s independence by assuming r e s p o n s i b i l i t y working i n a Safeway store and as a newspaper c a r r i e r ; (He corrected me on this during the follow up. He i s not a newspaper carrier but a complaint d r i v e r . "Newspaper carrier makes me sound l i k e I'm 12 years old" he grinned.) maintains v o l i t i o n a l health by taking ownership of his decisions and recognizing the importance for every i n d i v i d u a l to make and own t h e i r own decisions; and developing h i s s p i r i t u a l nature i n his quest to come to terms with l i f e and the re l a t i o n s h i p of in d i v i d u a l l i f e to 232 something which i s greater than the i n d i v i d u a l . Perhaps he i s d i f f e r e n t from h i s peers. Certainly he stands out from the other interviews to date insofar as he f e e l s less pressure, i t seems, from outside to do, or to achieve, and appears to be more autonomous i n making and accepting the outcomes of his decisions. And, judging only from the progression of the interview, he stands out i n h i s acceptance of r e s p o n s i b i l i t y for a l l parts of his l i f e to which he appears to at t r i b u t e equal importance. Career does not seem to be the most important issue; a l l aspects of personal development seem to share equal importance at t h i s time. During the follow up he said that there was one aspect of life which for him did seem to be somewhat more important than the others, that of his love of reading. When I had asked him if there was anything else that he might have wanted to add he was at f i r s t quite adamant that there wasn't. Then as I was about to close he said quite softly "Maybe my ah library in my room." Wayne has a great love of books and has already a fairly extensive library of soft cover and some hard cover books. More important, he does not j u s t c o l l e c t them, but i s an avid reader. All the books on his shelves have been read by him. He was quite proud that he had j u s t spent $60.00 in a second hand book store picking up more books for himself. He thought that I might be interested in that since he believes that not many people in his age have a library of their own. (He i s probably right.) In terms of career choice, Wayne believes that i t i s not d i f f i c u l t to make choices. A l l of h i s friends have made career choices and are either i n t r a i n i n g or already working. He believes the choices are very simple: e l e c t r o n i c s , sciences or computers. In some ways I found t h i s to be very s i m p l i s t i c i n view of h i s own deep insights and i n view of his awareness of the competitiveness at the u n i v e r s i t i e s . On the other hand i t seems to be aligned with his approach to l i f e — r e a l i t y . He sees the future as becoming more and more automated and therefore sees the need f o r people to enter into occupations which w i l l be i n harmony with future needs and which w i l l provide for a comfortable l i f e s t y l e . He does not see the service occupations such as working i n Safeway or i n a department store as 233 careers. They do not, i n h i s opinion provide enough money f o r a person to l i v e , and therefore, judging by the f a c t that he i s employed at Safeway, he believes they are suitable as only interim jobs. In the follow up he nodded at this and then said "Or if they want to get into the b u s i n e s s . . . y e s , l i k e management." He also believes that the t r a d i t i o n a l jobs such as o f f i c e s e c r e t a r i a l or working with machines are going to become increasingly scarce. Although he did not s p e c i f i c a l l y state i t , from h i s discussion of desirable jobs, I am presuming Wayne, foresees much of the manual jobs being replaced by computer and robot. At t h i s point in the follow up interview, Wayne nodded gravely but did not comment. In general I found Wayne to be a sen s i t i v e , i n t e l l i g e n t young man whose r e a l i s t i c appraisals of himself, h i s strengths as well as hi s weaknesses were refreshing while at the same time, the lack of youthful enthusiasm and spontenaity which seemed to have been suppressed by hi s need to l i v e i n the " r e a l i s t i c " world l e f t me f e e l i n g sad. I wanted to blow on the smouldering coals of the romantic and have them burst into flame. IVhen we came to this paragraph, Wayne looked at me with grinning eyes and then grinned openly. I found myself grinning back, waited for a comment, but none came. James James i s a young man who had just completed h i s f i r s t year i n engineering and was waiting to receive word on whether he had been accepted to hi s chosen f i e l d of e l e c t r i c a l engineering for the second year. At the time of the interview the uncertainty of that lay heavily upon him and appeared to dominate much of the interview. He spoke ra p i d l y and expansively on the engineering program and his very deep desire to be i n the e l e c t r i c a l engineering program. I t seems that e l e c t r i c a l engineering and computers go hand i n hand with James and i d e a l l y he would l i k e to combine the two. However, since there appears to be l i t t l e d ifference i n the courses he needs to take for computer engineering and e l e c t r i c a l engineering, and since computer engineering appears to be a more competitive f i e l d , James went with h i s f i r s t love, that of e l e c t r i c a l . He said that there are two things he 234 enjoys doing, computers and e l e c t r i c a l and he wants to work i n a f i e l d where he can "enjoy what [he] do[es]." University appears to be the only way for James to go. He stated that "people tend to regard u n i v e r s i t y degrees on a better standard than they do technology degrees" even though places l i k e B.C.I.T. have good programs. And while he did not d i r e c t l y state t h i s , he seemed to imply, a un i v e r s i t y degree would give a person a better opportunity f o r employment. He affirmed t h i s with a nod in the follow-up interview. James's i n t e r e s t i n e l e c t r o n i c s and computers seemed to s t a r t at an early age. He can remember buil d i n g h i s f i r s t e l e c t r o n i c s project, a simple laser, for a science project i n grade 7. He had seen the project i n a magazine and i t took him months before he got the information from a l i b r a r y . This lead me to believe that he had already developed a reasonably strong i n t e r e s t i n e l e c t r o n i c s by t h i s time as he would not have waited for the information for such a long time i f i t had been a randomly chosen project. James thought about this for a moment in the follow-up interview, the said "Never thought about t h a t . I guess it probably was." His dual in t e r e s t s i n e l e c t r o n i c s and computers continued to grow throughout high school; a l b e i t , not in terms of school subjects, but rather i n terms of private "messing around" at home. James said he has a voltmeter and everything i n h i s room so that he can do hi s e l e c t r o n i c s projects there. At high school there were no el e c t r o n i c courses for James to take so that he concentrated on what he c a l l s the "core" subjects, chemistry, physics and mathematics. He was very pleased i n having chosen the sciences for h i s grade 11 and 12 as they were p r e c i s e l y what he needed to get into engineering. His hobby began to expand into work. James demonstrated h i s understanding of computers by producing an e f f e c t i v e letterhead, used for promotional advertising, by a drug store where hi s mother was employed. This project resulted i n h i s being hired at the l o c a l Radio Shack store where he worked part time throughout high school and f i r s t year u n i v e r s i t y . James appreciated the opportunity to work there because he believed he was not only able to learn a great deal but also o f f e r a great deal of his own expertise. A r i s i n g from h i s job, James took on what might be 235 c a l l e d t u t o r i a l s ; helping individuals learn how to use t h e i r computer. He said that he enjoyed doing that and f e l t that he had become sophisticated enough i n helping people that he would l i k e at some point i n h i s l i f e t r y teaching people computer s k i l l s . James counts himself as lucky to have been working i n an area that w i l l allow him to associate with what he enjoys and what he plans on doing as a career. He recognized that not everyone i s that lucky as he pondered about the p o s s i b i l i t i e s of h i s having gotten a job dishwashing somewhere. "I got a l o t of experience i n that [explaining computers to people] from working at the Radio Shack store." He also used h i s own i n t e r e s t and the opportunities provided him i n the store to work on h i s e l e c t r o n i c s by f i x i n g stereos and the alarm systems and so on. He seemed to be quite proud that he was able to not just s e l l equipment but understand the equipment that he was s e l l i n g . James did not seem to have had any teachers or mentors per se i n the development of h i s i n t e r e s t i n e l e c t r o n i c s . "I've taught myself" he states on several occasions. "I've just worked, picked a project, worked on i t and taught myself a l l the necessary s t u f f for that project." He f e e l s that that i s a good way to learn as i t forces you to learn everything you need to complete the project. He c i t e d h i s most recent learning, that of "C" language, a computer program language he needed to use to complete a program that p r i n t s p r i c i n g labels at the Radio Shack where he had been working. During the course of the project he learned the language that he w i l l be learning next year i n e l e c t r o n i c engineering. Now, he said, having already worked with the language, he w i l l be ahead of others i n the c l a s s . James's father i s a system's analyst working with computers. He helped h i s son by answering questions as James asked them, but he never "pushed" the young man into that d i r e c t i o n . B a s i c a l l y James believes that he did the i n i t i a t i n g and h i s father was h e l p f u l i n the response. He believes h i s father was very thorough i n explaining everything that James asked about: " I f you ask him a simple question h e ' l l go on for l i k e 3 0 minutes explaining i t . " but, he laughs i t was good because i t went beyond the "regular boundaries" that most professionals would go to. 236 James believes that i t was a natural progression for him to enter into e l e c t r i c a l engineering. "I had already decided over the years what I was going into. I didn't know i t was termed engineering. I ju s t sort of knew that I was going to go into i t . " He also thinks that most people enter t h e i r career f i e l d s i n the same way. "In grade 12 you could t e l l " who was going to a uni v e r s i t y and who was going to college. He admits you can't be ce r t a i n of everyone, but the majority of people are pr e d i c t a b l e — e v e n to the kind of program they would enrol i n based on the kinds of courses that they had been taking and " p a r t i a l l y by t h e i r nature". He described how he observed students i n a History class he had taken, and the debates that raged i n the cl a s s . The nature of the ind i v i d u a l s he described as outspoken c a p i t a l i s t s , or t h e o r e t i c a l persons, or more philosophical people. Once you know t h e i r natures, James states that you can t e l l whether they w i l l be going into something p r a c t i c a l as he has, or something t h e o r e t i c a l such as pure sciences or philosophical such as the arts or psychology. As f a r as he was concerned he enjoyed e l e c t r o n i c s and that i s why he went into i t ; but now that he i s there he r e a l i z e s that many of the people he i s with have the same kinds of values i n p o l i t i c s and appreciating the concrete, u t i l i t a r i a n aspects of learning, that he has. While James did not d i r e c t l y express t h i s thought, I have the f e e l i n g that he welcomed the opportunity to understand and be understood by others which contributed to his feelings of closeness to the students i n hi s f a c u l t y . For example he described the closeness of the engineers i n warm and accepting terms " i t ' s nice to be able to sort of discuss and everyone sort of agree"; "they spend so much time together"; "you tend to get to know the people"; "they're proud [to be engineers] 'cause they have worked hard to get [there]"; "you f e e l a b i t of at loss so to speak when you know that people've been kicked out", and so on. At one point he attempted to describe why people go into psychology or science, but he f a l t e r e d and reverted to describing what happened i n engineering, the f i e l d that he seemed to be most comfortable with and understanding of. At t h i s point in the follow-up interview James nodded a l o t , smiled and made affirming noises "mhm; yeah; mhm" and so on. 237 James appeared to be well aware of the requirements of entering engineering and f e l t no apprehension about being accepted. He had the grades and the appropriate subjects and that was the only important c r i t e r i a . On the other hand he f e l t highly anxious about being accepted to e l e c t r i c a l . The f r u s t r a t i o n of fin d i n g himself i n competition with very bright young people i n a fac u l t y that he described as being more interested i n getting r i d of people than making l i f e easy, was evident i n many of the desc r i p t i v e phrases that he used and i n switching from the f i r s t person " I " whenever he described the things he l i k e s to do or when he seemed to f e e l i n control to the t h i r d person "you" and "they" whenever he described the things that are giving him d i f f i c u l t y . "You're competing [with] the cream of the crop from the high schools"; "the whole thing seems to be geared on t r y i n g to get r i d of people, that's the most unse t t l i n g thing"; "they give you more work than i n the time a l l o t t e d " ; " i f I took the course now I could probably f i n i s h most of the assignments"; "you didn't care what understanding i s , you just cared getting i t done"; "you have a l l the other classes"; "you cannot remember t o t a l l y " ; "you're not used to being t r y i n g to get r i d of"; "you're used to getting high marks"; "you sort of pretty well have to joke about i t " ; "I passed"; "I've been admitted into second year" and so on. James's only comment at this part of the follow-up interview was to continue in the same vein as he had at that time j u s t heard that he had not been accepted to the e l e c t r i c a l and had begun to explore some of the a l t e r n a t i v e s . The anxiety pulled at him from two sides. On the one side was the spectre of despair i f he does not get accepted—there appeared to be no altern a t i v e s for him. His chosen area i s engineering s p e c i f i c . He cannot continue i n another faculty and get the same thing; nor does he wish to continue i n engineering i f he must take a focus that he w i l l f i n d boring or completely without i n t e r e s t . On the other side there was the person who needed to act and phoned up the Dean's o f f i c e to argue his case with persons on the other end of the phone. He f e l t helpless when t o l d that he could not by-pass the requirements for getting into a s p e c i a l i z a t i o n , and f e l t hopeful when he was t o l d that i t looked as i f he had a good chance of being accepted. This see-saw 238 e f f e c t of hope and fear seemed to dominate the interview; not so much i n terms of content but i n terms of the delivery of the content. James often spoke very ra p i d l y , both when he described h i s own love of e l e c t r o n i c s and computers and how he developed these s k i l l s mainly on h i s own, and when he described the engineering f a c u l t y and the courses which were set up to get r i d of bright students on the basis of seemingly a r b i t r a r y r u l e s : "can't f a i l more than two courses; must maintain a 55% average; can't repeat f i r s t year courses; must leave the f a c u l t y i f you can't enter into the s p e c i a l t y area you have chosen and i f you don't wish to choose a d i f f e r e n t s p e c i a l t y " . He moved about the room, sat, sguatted, knelt, stood, sat again so that one had the f e e l i n g that here was a person who was experiencing severe duress. With one week l e f t to wait for the answer, i t seemed both a r e l i e f to speak about the joy of being an engineer and the s u f f e r i n g of being i n a f a c u l t y that seemed so ruthless i n i t s approach to students; as well as pain to open up to view the seemingly unsolvable problem of having been accepted to second year engineering but not necessarily to the one area of i n t e r e s t that was the only reason engineering was chosen i n the f i r s t place. While James did not receive any career guidance from either school or parents, he did f e e l that the most important advice anyone could receive was to go with what one i s interested i n . "What you choose i s going to be what you're gonna be doing for the r e s t of your l i f e . " You should not choose what someone else thinks would be good because you w i l l only be happy i n what you want. James believes that people who have not made up t h e i r minds and s t i l l go to u n i v e r s i t y are doing a good thing. University i s the key to the future as f a r as James i s concerned, and as people take d i f f e r e n t courses, they w i l l f i n d an area that they w i l l l i k e . However, he recognized that at some point one needs to make a decision or become a career student. He suggested i f things don't sort themselves out at university, a person would be best o f f taking a year out to work and get a focus. But he i s o p t i m i s t i c . Most people have a pretty good idea of what they l i k e and w i l l i d e n t i f y where they want to go. For him i t i s e l e c t r i c a l engineering. I t f u l f i l s h i s values of doing something p r a c t i c a l i n a science f i e l d , doing something with purpose, "there's got to be 239 a use for i t " , doing something he r e a l l y enjoys and preparing himself for a job that w i l l provide him with a l i f e t i m e occupation. "I want to be i n a job that i s in demand and that I w i l l enjoy. That's why I'm so adamant about getting into e l e c t r i c a l . " Jn the follow up interview, James spent a great deal of time talking about the feelings of not having been accepted; of seemingly having fewer options now than if he had failed the year. The frustration was very evident. While he did not move about l i k e in the f i r s t interview, it was evident by the rapidity of the speech and the frequent sentence fragments, many of which do not seem to hang together except in emotional tone, that James was very agitated. Nevertheless there was no evidence of a person who felt defeated. He continued to press on with his plans and was leaving no stone unturned to reach his goal. James did not feel that he had anything to add beyond that and said that the summary represented very accurately his experience of making the career decision. The one question regarding his future goal was answered without real depth as if it were s t i l l too far ahead to really visualize in more concrete terms. He plans to eventually have a business of his own after having gained experience in some large electronics' company. I f e l t that here was a young man who, had he not been as firm in his career goal as he i s , would probably have given up in the face of all the frustration that he was experiencing. It seems in some way, that a career goal, a decision made by an individual regardless at what point in their life, i s a very empowering experience. B i l l B i l l was a soft spoken young man for whom the t e l l i n g of h i s story of career decision making appeared to be an inner journey. I had the f e e l i n g that I had been i n v i t e d to observe an intimate viewing of a kaleidoscope of experiences that evoked memories of childhood and school, r i c h with attendant emotions. B i l l was beside me as my guide as well as an observer, standing and watching the same things and explaining to me what we were seeing. There was a sense of detached involvement that permits the observer to see what has 240 happened and i n seeing, become aware of new things which were not apparent i n the o r i g i n a l experience. Even the expression of B i l l ' s emotions seemed detached, as i f i t was not him experiencing the f e e l i n g s , but him empathizing with someone who was close to him and who had experienced the f e e l i n g s . B i l l started by saying that he knew by grade 10 that he was going to go into some sort of business. I t seemed l o g i c a l . He was very good i n mathematics at the time and looked to a math oriented f i e l d such as accounting or economic analysis. In grades 11 and 12 there appeared to be a s h i f t i n s k i l l s . Mathematics, which had always been his top subject, suddenly began to give him d i f f i c u l t i e s . He was no longer getting the marks, a l b e i t he f e l t that nothing he had done contributed to that change. His attentiveness and the amount he studied had not declined, yet the marks were unmistakably dropping. At the same time English and History seemed to become easier and marks i n those subjects were improving. Again he had no explanation for that since h i s i n t e r e s t i n those subjects had not r e a l l y increased. Frustrated and confused he turned to one of h i s teachers who thought that B i l l might be changing dominant brain hemispheres and rather than f i g h t that, should go with i t . The explanation seemed to s a t i s f y him and he said " f i n e " . Without v e r b a l l y connecting the changes i n thinking to the changes i n plans, B i l l stated that by the end of grade 12 h i s focus for business had changed to one of dealing with people rather than with numbers. B i l l seemed to have no apprehension about getting into u n i v e r s i t y , or qualms about the f a c u l t y he was planning to enter. He had attended a private high school on a f u l l scholarship, and although he spoke of his marks dropping i n grades 11 and 12, I had to consider those drops r e l a t i v e to e a r l i e r grades since he continued to attend school on scholarships up to graduation. Therefore i n reading between the l i n e s , I suspected that the grades for u n i v e r s i t y entrance were well above minimum reguirements for B i l l to have had no apprehension. In going over t h i s section, Bill f e l t that it was not quite representative of the way he f e l t . He said he did feel apprehension. He always had a "high level of anxiety about whether he was good enough" even though he should have know that from his marks. Furthermore he was always worried that his 241 marks would not quite measure up even though they had been high enough for him to enter U.B.C. and in second year, Commerce. B i l l chose to attend a l o c a l u n i v e r s i t y because i t was f i n a n c i a l l y the most f e a s i b l e ; he i s paying for h i s own education. He had b r i e f l y toyed with the idea of attending an eastern university, but considered both the cost and h i s desire to stay with h i s friends. I t seemed that friends were even more important a factor than finances i n t h i s decision. B i l l needed a 70% average i n h i s f i r s t year of uni v e r s i t y to get into the Commerce fa c u l t y (which he apparently got as he was accepted) and had jus t completed h i s f i r s t year. B i l l stated that he had chosen the f a c u l t y because, at the time, i t "was the way I wanted to go". In his mind commerce was the "end a l l and be a l l " of business education and the only means of getting a good job with good pay. At the time i t also seemed the easiest route to his goal and choosing what was easiest had always been a pattern that he had adhered to. Now i n retrospect he decided that i t would have been easier had he chosen Arts i n the f i r s t place. I t seems s i g n i f i c a n t that i n both choices of fa c u l t y he was able to describe the benefits of the education that he perceived he could get, but that he reduced those to viewing them as what was easier. Bill interjected in when we came to t h i s section because he believed that I had not quite captured his experience. Even though he was "happy, simply for the fact that [he] had made the decision to go into commerce and that [he] was going to put my full efforts into it" there was s t i l l the uneasy feeling of whether he had made the right choice out of the two possible options. When, at the end of the f i r s t year of commerce he decided that Arts would have been b e t t e r , the decision to switch faculties made him feel happier and e a s i e r . Easier had been interpreted by me as the route of l e a s t resistance whereas he had intended "easier" to mean an inner feeling of comfort. The experience of f i r s t year commerce was described i n generally negative terms: "very te c h n i c a l , very s p e c i f i c " ; " i t wasn't f l e x i b l e enough"; " i t didn't allow me to take c e r t a i n courses"; " i t was very narrow minded"; "I found i t very confining" and so on. B i l l "coasted" through the year having made the decision about h a l f way through that t h i s was not for him and 242 that he would switch to the Arts f a c u l t y and complete hi s business as part of that program. B i l l wants to major i n economics and p o l i t i c a l science, two of the courses he had been able to take as e l e c t i v e s i n commerce and which he enjoyed the most, but which were not a v a i l a b l e to him as a concentration i n the Commerce fac u l t y . While he also admitted to having made two other important choices i n h i s second year ( f i r s t year commerce), that of moving out of the house and that of pledging a f r a t e r n i t y , which launched him "quite abruptly and intensely" into the s o c i a l scene at U.B.C., B i l l did not f e e l that these choices compromised hi s courses or the time he put i n for studying. B i l l f e l t very comfortable having made those choices: "That was the best thing I did; I have no regrets" and i s planning to maintain h i s l i v i n g arrangements as a member of one of the f r a t e r n i t y houses on campus next year. He f e l t that he gained a l o t having learned that he "could balance making enough money to get me through without jeopardizing the courses or the time I put into school." He proved that he could do that and that i t could work out. B i l l also c r e d i t s the past year for h i s personal growth. Having "brushed very close with complete f a i l u r e " he now believes that i t was good for him. He said he recognizes now that there w i l l be times i n the future when he w i l l f a i l , but that he's "never going to be able to do what [he] want[s] i f [he's] always shying away from things from fear of f a i l i n g . " Furthermore he also believes that h i s decision to go into Arts w i l l have attendant benefits since he must now r e l y on himself getting a job a f t e r graduation rather than on the i n i t i a l s a f t e r h i s name. There was a sound of pride i n h i s voice when he said that, as i f for the f i r s t time he understood that i t was he, and not the f a c u l t y he graduated from, that would make the difference i n what he w i l l do i n h i s career. B i l l spoke extensively about hi s family. He seemed to have two pictures i n h i s mind about hi s parents which do not appear to be well integrated at t h i s time. One picture i s of supportive parents who are open to h i s ideas and encourage him i n h i s education; parents whose values he i d e n t i f i e s with and who i n some way he attempts to emulate. The second picture i s of parents who have put great demands on 243 t h e i r only c h i l d ; who have contributed to molding him to follow a business career and who tend to be, i f not d i r e c t l y , then i n d i r e c t l y c r i t i c a l of things that are outside of the frame of reference that they embrace. There appear to be some c o n f l i c t i n g values from the parents who seem to be competing for the attention of the son. On the one hand i s mother who has a very strong work ethic, believes i n "honest, hard work", saving one's money, providing comfortably for oneself and f o r one's family, and on the other i s father who believes more i n r i s k taking and the development of s o c i a l and i n t e l l e c t u a l s k i l l s . Both parents are "very money oriented. Working hard and making money were a higher p r i o r i t y than doing something for s e l f f u l f i l l m e n t . " The ying yang e f f e c t of the parental pictures i s described by B i l l i n how he sees himself. He spoke of how h i s values subconsciously guided him along the path to commerce. "What do I value? Ah time, I value money f i r s t , number two I value success, not so much i n my eyes but i n people around me, my mother, my father, my fr i e n d s . And three prestige, respect and happiness." Although he did not consider h i s father a mentor, B i l l did, i n r e f l e c t i n g on h i s father's r o l e i n h i s l i f e , conclude that i n some ways he was t r y i n g to prove himself to h i s father. His father had such high expectations of him and i n some way, B i l l was going to do what hi s father had not been able to, u t i l i z e h i s degree. Even as he was saying the words, B i l l recognized that he had not ever put that together for himself. I t had been there d r i v i n g him but he had not recognized what i t was u n t i l he had said i t . In h i s heart B i l l seemed to wrestle with a l l the things that he as missed out on, being so early set on a career path: "I think gained so much momentum and so much d i r e c t i o n from my parents and s t u f f even i n elementary school, that no matter how many people t o l d me to [try a v a r i e t y of things] i t would have had to have been an i n c r e d i b l e i n s p i r a t i o n i n a new d i r e c t i o n to make me do something d i f f e r e n t . " At t h i s point he spoke darkly of h i s mother who, by her negative expressions regarding the professional careers, "inadvertently pushed [him] away" from even exploring the sciences i n high school. And he mused that perhaps, had he been more open to experiences then, he would now be studying to become a doctor and loving i t . 244 School too, i t seemed, was a heavy influence i n terms of career d i r e c t i o n for B i l l . He f e l t that there was unstated pressure by "the r i c h parents", on the teachers of the private school he attended, to turn out students who had career goals c l e a r l y defined so that they would become successful i n some area. He described the career guidance program which began i n grade 10 as very intense and very seductive. The i n t e r e s t t e s t s and the aptitude t e s t s , written and computerized, the question booklet and the computerized job search, he said, was almost as intense as a course. B i l l f e l t i t had a great deal of power to d i r e c t the students. "Nobody t o l d you, you should go into t h i s area, but when a computer flashed on the screen that a l l your a t t r i b u t e s l i e i n a desk job, then you're gonna go "Wow!" I guess that's what I l i k e . " And when the students took the printed material home and showed i t to t h e i r parents, and they would gasp "That's wonderful", i t made a strong impression. He likened i t to computing a problem on a c a l c u l a t o r and getting the r i g h t answer. And when the answer was confirmed i n an interview with the counsellor, "Well, i t seems to a l l add up; then i t must be r i g h t . " Young people B i l l f e e l s are externally directed i n those years and i f someone inspires you, you w i l l get a hold of i t and go with i t . And i f l a t e r you f i n d that maybe i t was a l l wrong, you become d i s i l l u s i o n e d with the people who t o l d you you would do "so w e l l " i n that area, and insecure with your own a b i l i t i e s . "I'm not as smart as I thought I was," B i l l states w i s t f u l l y so that I f e l t that the "you" he had been t a l k i n g about very much included him. There were other people i n B i l l ' s l i f e who made an impact on h i s decision. A young f r i e n d of h i s father who had an M.B.A. from one of the u n i v e r s i t i e s i n the U.S. spoke with him many times about careers and "sort of psyched [him] up for that area of career decision". A high school f r i e n d with whom he had always been close also "headed [him] i n that d i r e c t i o n " . Others, such as the Dean of Commerce encouraged him i n h i s decision to go to Arts and take an M.B.A. l a t e r i f he wanted i t , and s t i l l others who spoke to him of t h e i r career paths. Many, B i l l said, were f e e l i n g "stuck" i n t h e i r jobs because they had never had the courage to make al t e r n a t i v e decisions while others spoke to him of being unsure of where they were going u n t i l they 245 f i n a l l y d r i f t e d into something that r e a l l y excited them. B i l l believes that i t i s very d i f f i c u l t f o r young people to make career choices nowadays because of the many options available, the d i r e c t and i n d i r e c t pushing of parents, school and friends to make a decision, and f i n a l l y the inevi t a b l e recognition that you need to make the decision for yourself and that depending on what you chose you could either f e e l stuck or f e e l happy i n your job. Other people he says, may judge him as having given up on his o r i g i n a l goal, that he "was too weak" but he believes that no decision i s r e a l l y " r i g h t or wrong". As such he f e e l s that i t i s important to not worry so much about young people making decisions, as to give them as many opportunities as possible, to t r y out things and then to permit them to d r i f t n a t u r a l l y into the area that they l i k e and which w i l l make them happy. It seemed to me that B i l l , who hopes to enter the diplomatic corps or to enter p o l i t i c s at some future date when he his well s e t t l e d i n his business career, i s permitting himself now the luxury of " d r i f t i n g " into business by way of an Arts program. He looks forward to t r y i n g many of the courses that he did not t r y while in high school, thus "rounding" out his education which he f e e l s should have happened there. And while there are s t i l l some tinges of doubt about t h i s choice i n terms of how his friends or perhaps even hi s family perceives the move, for himself, i t seems that t h i s was the f i r s t decision that he r e a l l y made about h i s career and i n making i t , he f e e l s "more confident" about himself and his future. All in all Bill thought that this was a succinct representation of what he remembered of the interview and that it was representative of what he had said. The only thing that worried him was that he f e l t that I had written him up as "a l i t t l e b i t more sure of myself than I actually was in some points" especially those concerning his marks, entrance to university and entrance to the commerce program. He did not raise any other issues that could have been differently interpreted or anything new. 246 Susan Susan had a clear goal and one of the most persistent plans for reaching i t . Even before Susan's v i s i t to Ryerson with her mother following her graduation from high school, a v i s i t which seemed to confirm for her that she was on the r i g h t track i n having chosen Ryerson as the school for her degree i n In t e r i o r Design, she had already begun to plan for her career. In high school, with the guidance of her mother, she chose to take academic courses for grades 11 and 12 i n order to prepare herself for u n i v e r s i t y entrance. Although she did not state i t s p e c i f i c a l l y , I suspect that she also took the Housing and In t e r i o r Design 12 which was offered as an e l e c t i v e at that time and which had been recommended to her by her counsellor i n grade 10. Our follow up interview confirmed t h i s as being s o . Her tenacity i n pursuing her goal i s best i l l u s t r a t e d by the story she t o l d of her struggle with Algebra 11. In spit e of a weakness i n mathematics, and in s p i t e of a callous teacher who t o l d the students that they may as well be "berry pickers" i f they didn't understand t h i s , Susan r e a l i z e d the need to have the algebra i n order to go into her chosen f i e l d . She took the course three times i n order to pass i t and subsequently went on to take Algebra 12 a l b e i t the interview i s not clea r on whether she was s t i l l i n school at the time or whether that was done as part of the upgrading she did subsequently. In the follow up interview she stated, "I was at Langara when I took that". The v i s i t to Ryerson appeared to happen sometime in the year a f t e r she had started a program i n Langara. Susan applied to Langara because she f e l t she did not have "enough confidence" to r i g h t away apply to Ryerson. At Langara she took design and ar t h i s t o r y courses. However I am not quite quite cl e a r how long the stay at Langara was, since during that time the v i s i t to Ryerson took place. That v i s i t resulted i n Susan upgrading many of her grade 12 courses i n order to get the *B' average which someone i n the Registrar's o f f i c e i n Ryerson said she would need to get i n . The follow up interview clarified this for me. Susan had applied to Langara because she felt that she was "not ready" to go to Ryerson right out of high school. She 247 was attending Langara part time, taking evening courses in art and art history and then subsequent to her v i s i t to Ryerson, courses to upgrade her marks. She was also working part time for the three years between high school graduation and starting at Ryerson. I t appears that Susan applied to Ryerson as well as to Regina i n the winter of 1988/89. Actually it was the University of Manitoba at Regina. Regina did not accept Susan on the basis of her academic standing and the lack of balance at Langara between the academic and art type courses. "Actually" Susan said in the follow-up interview, "[Manitoba] looked s t r i c t l y at Langara's [marks]. I didn't have enough academic courses [at Langara]. I sense they didn't really look at my grade 12 as much as Ryerson did". At Ryerson she was short l i s t e d and c a l l e d for an interview which encouraged Susan immensely as being on track. However, during the course of the interview i t was revealed that she had a weak p o r t f o l i o and that while i t contained a va r i e t y of samples of work, i t appeared to be i n s u f f i c i e n t l y strong e s p e c i a l l y i n the area of free hand drawing and watercolours. Susan was l e f t f e e l i n g f r u s t r a t e d and depressed. I t had been a d i f f i c u l t time for her. She had by now been out of high school for three years and was f i n a l l y f e e l i n g ready to go on with t h i s part of her l i f e . The news of the lack i n her p o r t f o l i o sat heavy on her shoulders because she f e l t that had she not spent so much time upgrading her high school academics, which i t turned out, was not r e a l l y that e s s e n t i a l , and had spent more time on her p o r t f o l i o , she would have been able to r e g i s t e r . However, on the good news side, which at that time did nothing to cheer Susan, was the comment of the interviewer that she would probably be accepted for the following year which would give her a year to work on the p o r t f o l i o . Susan f e l t stretched to capacity and unable to make an al t e r n a t i v e decision. The summer had brought t h i s d i f f i c u l t news of nonacceptance and at the same time had brought untimely deaths i n the family which necessitated several t r i p s to Germany. Although i n her l i f e , she considered the stumbling blocks to her reaching her goals only as "set backs", i t seemed at that time that the setbacks had l e f t her immobile to make a further decisions about her l i f e . Susan l i s t e d d i f f e r e n t p o s s i b i l i t i e s that she might have pursued but 248 followed none. She said she was not even able to work on her p o r t f o l i o . At t h i s point in the second interview, Susan clarified what seemed to be my misconception. It was not that she was not accepted at Ryerson after the interview, but that she was not able to r e g i s t e r right away. They placed her on a wait l i s t , "in very good standing . . . I was in a very good p o s i t i o n . I was in the f i r s t 20V. The sense of frustration came from the not knowing whether to make alternative plans or to wait to be called by Ryerson; and the sense of i n e r t i a arose from the family problems she was experiencing. At the end of summer, Susan received the news that she could r e g i s t e r . She laughed that she was away within a week. Susan described the f e e l i n g of being accepted as "amazing...really good". I t was almost as i f she were saying i t was too good to be true to be f i n a l l y on the road that would lead her to her long-planned future career. Susan spoke of the year at Ryerson with mixed fe e l i n g s . While i t confirmed for her that she had made the r i g h t career choice, i t also was an eye opener i n terms of the work load that she faced. Susan described h e r s e l f as an inconsistent worker with some lazy days and ups and downs, but also one who was able to come through i n the crunch. She r e a l i z e d that the second year would be even harder and perhaps the established patterns of work would not be adeguate to see her through. However, by recognizing that at t h i s point she already i s planning to work harder and r e a l l y "do [her] best." I t was my observation that Susan seemed very dependent on outside feedback i n order to achieve, while at the same time perhaps not aware of the degree of dependence on that feedback. Several things that Susan said lead me to notice some patterns that seemed to emerge from the narrative. I noted that Susan did not p a r t i c i p a t e at high school or l a t e r i n college i n career exploration a c t i v i t i e s , but seemed to be lead into choosing her career by the encouragement of her mother, friends of her mother's and peers who noted that she had a seemingly natural f l a i r for what i s good i n design. On the basis of the recommendations by her mother she took a f u l l academic course load i n her senior years at high school i n order to prepare herself for u n i v e r s i t y entrance, but without the attendant 249 senior courses i n a r t which might have been h e l p f u l i n providing her with the beginnings of a strong p o r t f o l i o of drawings and colour work. During the v i s i t to Ryerson Susan spoke to one person who mentioned the upgrading. There appeared to be no discussion about what Ryerson expected i n the way of a p o r t f o l i o . F i n a l l y , during her year at Ryerson, Susan met with d i f f e r e n t l e v e l s of success i n her courses. When she was doing well and getting p o s i t i v e feedback, she f e l t up and encouraged to work. When she was not doing well or struggling with negative feedback i n terms of lower marks, she would withdraw from t a c k l i n g that work. When she said that she proved to herse l f that she was capable of much independent work, by bringing up her marks i n the l a s t s i x weeks, I f e l t that i t did not seem to stem so much from a deep inner sense of accomplishment, as much as from her "profs [who] were always saying what a great job we were doing". To bring up her mark i n one course from barely passing to a 'B' was an "incredible f e e l i n g " accompanied by the external approval i n terms of s e l f t a l k "I can do that and they have f a i t h i n me..." As I reviewed the tape and the t r a n s c r i p t s , I gained an impression of a very capable person. Susan was perhaps the most poised, most a r t i c u l a t e of the students that I had interviewed. I t was evident that she must have presented herself well during the interview at Ryerson with professionals who selected her from among 700 applicants to be one of 60 students to be accepted. I came to think that once Susan 'owned' the words of friends "[that she] r e a l l y has a fi n e eye, ... [has] good ideas" and design sense, and int e r n a l i z e d them with the " f i n e r f e e l i n g s " she recognized i n herself, that she would be able to expl o i t the talents she possess and become that successful person that she longs to be. The feelings of i n s e c u r i t y ("...[my] s i s t e r i s very bright") that she struggled with and which prevented her from r i g h t away applying to Ryerson are not yet, i t seems, gone; even a f t e r the f i r s t year at Ryerson. Self-doubt always seems to haunt her and the good advice that she gave her f r i e n d who has not yet completed high school that " I t ' s for yourself" seems to be unaccessible to her i n her s i t u a t i o n . Susan seemed to l i s t e n intently as we went over t h i s p a r t . It was as if she was trying to see whether 250 what I had said f i t . I paused for a few moments to give time for her response, but she j u s t nodded gravely and asked me to go on. Susan's mother has been a powerful influence i n her l i f e . Although Susan does not accept her mother as being a "mentor" i n the sense of someone who can a s s i s t another person along the road he/she has chosen, i t seemed that she had a greater d i r e c t impact i n shaping the goals of t h i s young woman than many parents have. Her own love of the arts was translated into p r a c t i c a l experiences f o r her daughters who were taken to musical performances, theatre, art g a l l e r i e s , b a l l e t s and so on, for as long as, i t seems, Susan can remember. And because Susan's mother worked for an a i r l i n e , that exposure extended to Europe as well as Canadian and American c i t i e s . These c u l t u r a l experiences have had a deep e f f e c t on the s e n s i t i v e and a r t i s t i c nature of Susan. I t also seemed that, while mother did not make the career decisions for her daughters, Susan shared a l o t of her plans and goals with her mother. In addition, Susan said that her mother assisted her a r t i s t i c development as much as she was able to, by surrounding her with things which are b e a u t i f u l , encouraging her through c u l t u r a l experiences, by making avail a b l e l i t e r a t u r e i n the way of books and magazines, and by making herself available to her daughter when she checked out Ryerson. While Susan and her s i s t e r are very d i f f e r e n t , Susan seems to long for a more meaningful r e l a t i o n s h i p with her s i s t e r . Susan says that she seems to be unable to e f f e c t i v e l y communicate her dreams to her s i s t e r , and i n turn does not seem to be able to penetrate the s t e r i l e wall that she f e e l s her s i s t e r has erected i n order to close o f f her s e n s i t i v i t y . Susan admires her s i s t e r ' s i n t e l l e c t and although she fe e l s that her own nature i s to be preferred over that of her s i s t e r , she occasionally f e e l s " i n f e r i o r " to t h i s younger s i b l i n g for whom school appeared to be no problem. Susan sees herself as being d i f f e r e n t from her friends. She i s goal oriented, persistent and i n d i v i d u a l i s t i c . While during the tough times she said she would muse, l i k e perhaps so many students do at various times i n t h e i r studies, that she might have married a r i c h man or just did something easy l i k e 251 working i n a r e t a i l store, she also recognized, a f t e r her year at u n i v e r s i t y that, she needs to be her own person. She stated that she needs the new found challenge and even i f she anticipates a tougher year next year, she looks forward to the atmosphere of the school which she knows w i l l challenge her once again to do her best. As f a r as advice to others who are seeking careers goes, Susan suggests that they do i t personally. She does not advocate group sessions i n career e x p l o r a t i o n — i t "needs to be personal". She thinks that t a l k i n g to people, seeing what i s out there, working i n the areas one wants to explore or at l e a s t looking at them by shadowing people or reading about them, are an e s s e n t i a l part of making a decision. Susan believes that i t ' s not easy. There are so many f i e l d s and i n each f i e l d so many related areas. How do you know which one w i l l give you the competitive edge; which one you have "that l i t t l e b i t of extra t a l e n t f o r " that w i l l make the difference. She also recognized that other things prevent people from making decisions as well: lack of confidence, discouragement by others, standards of l i v i n g that everyone wants to achieve which makes competition for money such an important value. She believes that personal f u l f i l l m e n t should be a major goal, but that takes time. Her future, although she says she does not want to plan too f a r i n advance, seems to include further studies, whether i n her f i e l d or i n a r e l a t e d f i e l d , t r a v e l , gaining experience abroad and then working for an established Canadian firm either here or i n Toronto, or e s t a b l i s h i n g a business of her own. She wants to marry—not too soon, an have a large family. Susan's s e n s i t i v i t y to her " f i n e r f e e l i n g s " appear to be both too l s for her future and possibly the key that locks i n her i n s e c u r i t y . The beauty of what she has seen and heard i s deeply etched into her soul. "How can one young woman e f f e c t i v e l y bring that together to show others beauty and calmness i n t h e i r environment" she may well be asking herself, " i f I cannot even make my own s i s t e r understand?" Is she comparing herself to the masters that she has been exposed to, only to f a l l short i n her own eyes, while the people around her, her supporting mother, friends, i n s t r u c t o r s , are able to appreciate her s k i l l s without 252 needing to compare her to anyone? Her love of the aesthetic appears to be not just vocational but avocational. I t i s not an easy future for someone to put t h e i r whole sense of s e l f on the l i n e i n a career, and yet her tenacity to get to where she has gotten indicates a side to her that i s strong, determined and capable of dealing with adversity. Perhaps, at some point when the strong and the s e n s i t i v e natures merge comfortably, when she sees her strengths and her s k i l l s not through the eyes of others, but through her own eyes, she can become that top professional i n her f i e l d that she longs to be. Susan made few corrections during the reading of the summary I had prepared for the follow-up interview. I chose to go over each of the paragraphs with her after the i n i t i a l reading to see whether I had correctly interpreted her experience of coming to her career decision. She was reflective but said that she would change nothing except the part about her being accepted to Ryerson (I had stated that she had not been accepted). When I asked her whether there was anything else that had come up for her during the interim, she stated that as of this year Manitoba was accepting people with portfolios. She believes that that i s the only way to assess entrance to a r t i s t i c fields of s t u d i e s . "People might have the right average academic l e v e l , but you really need to see their a r t i s t i c side as well." She closed by saying that the interview style I had used permitted her to express all of her thoughts. When we had started, she said that she thought she might not be able to talk about her ideas, but that the questions permitted her to express what she wanted to express. She said that it had been a good experience and when she left with her summary, she walked out of the office with a look of self-assurance. Janice Janice was a quiet spoken, thoughtful young woman whose decision to be a nurse was rooted i n a childhood experience of a ho s p i t a l stay. At age of six , she entered the h o s p i t a l to have her t o n s i l s removed. Her stay i n the h o s p i t a l was made enjoyable by the nurses. She remembered one nurse i n p a r t i c u l a r who would read to the youngsters on the ward. "I had a r e a l l y good 253 time i n the ho s p i t a l and I didn't want to go home." Janice f e e l s that she had wanted to be a nurse since that time, "I think that's where I f i r s t made my decision I wanted to be a nurse", and had c a r e f u l l y prepared herself during the school years, p a r t i c u l a r l y i n high school to reach that goal. During high school Janice also remembers going to the career centre to l i s t e n to a student nurse from U.B.C. speak to interested students about nursing. "I found that r e a l l y good too." Aside from these two incidents, there did not seem to be any spe c i a l people or d i r e c t i o n s i n her l i f e that would have contributed to the decision or perhaps caused some dissonance i n her plans. In high school Janice took science courses i n order to prepare her for entrance to nursing. She says that i n retrospect she thinks that she would not take Chemistry 12 again as she did not enjoy the course, nor, i t turns out, did she need i t . At the time however i t seemed that i t would provide her with the best possible options. While Janice did not say that she had considered going to un i v e r s i t y to do a degree program i n nursing, she did state that had she not chosen the courses that she did, and had she chosen the business courses that her parents had wanted her to, she would not have had the option of going to uni v e r s i t y . I would l i k e to check t h i s out with her to determine i f she had considered the option of a nursing degree and why she might have chosen to not pursue that route. Yes, I was on track. Janice had planned and s t i l l plans to take a degree in nursing. At t h i s time she feels that she prefers going the college route. The university requires her to have completed nursing at college or to take two years of undergrade sciences which was not to her l i k i n g . She has not yet made a decision whether she will go to the university right after completing nursing or not. She thought that in the f i r s t interview she had left it out of the discussion because it seemed " s t i l l so far away". School also provided Janice with some career guidance i n grade 10. Janice was not s p e c i f i c on the extent of the guidance but i t appears that she par t i c i p a t e d i n some written exercises which were designed to give the students some occupational options. While she said that there was nothing that came up for her that she would have l i k e d to pursue, 254 she seemed to f e e l that the program was useful i n providing some guidance to students. However, she added that she was the only one of her friends who had to date made a career commitment. I am surmising here that her friends attended the same school and par t i c i p a t e d i n s i m i l a r career guidance which may not be so. This was confirmed by Janice in the second interview but not pursued. However, she offered no further insights on the topic of career education. Janice spoke l i t t l e of her parents and the re l a t i o n s h i p she experienced during the decision making time. Although she stated that she believed that they were generally supportive and that they were able to argue about things openly, "they r e a l l y state t h e i r opinion", she f e l t that she didn't r e a l l y know whether they ever had any other goals for her. While they "kinda t o l d me to go that way i f that's what I l i k e d " and while they also recognized that she "had a knack for i t " she thought that they would have l i k e d to see her "take more business courses l i k e computers and typing" as her s i s t e r had done. And even as they were encouraging her i n her pursuits for nursing, they kept reminding her that i f i t i s too hard she could always become a le g a l secretary l i k e her older s i s t e r . I sensed that t h i s was an issue that Janice d i d not wish to pursue as she seemed to be uncomfortable discussing her r e l a t i o n s h i p with her parents and generally acknowledged my probes without elaboration. When we came to this part in the second interview I waited for a response. She said that I had been right about interpreting her remarks, but again did not elaborate on the topic. Janice also did not speak much about her s i s t e r except to state that she was a leg a l secretary who f e l t f i n e about Janice's choice of becoming a nurse without r e a l l y wanting to do i t her s e l f . I was l e f t to wonder whether the two s i s t e r s were too f a r apart i n age to have very much in t e r a c t i o n or whether Janice had grown up i n the shadow of the older s i s t e r and was t r y i n g to achieve an i d e n t i t y of her own. Here Janice grinned and nodded in assent. Her s i s t e r i s five years older than she i s and y e s , she thinks she does not want to be l i k e her s i s t e r and definitely wants to establish her own i d e n t i t y . Janice i s exceptionally proud of having made a decision. "I was glad I made t h i s decision 'cause I 255 know what I'm doing i n a few years." However, she does not f e e l that that somehow gives her sp e c i a l status even though most of her friends are s t i l l looking for something to do. She says "I think I was ju s t lucky" and then goes on to reveal something of her personal nature which perhaps explains her decision more pr e c i s e l y than luck, "I don't think I'd go along undecided l i k e that." She thinks that i t would be d i f f i c u l t f o r her to be undecided. I t seems that Janice i s as persistent as she considers h e r s e l f to be. When she f i r s t applied to B.C.I.T., she was too l a t e with her a p p l i c a t i o n . However she had applied at a vari e t y of places although I am not quite c l e a r what she meant when she said that "I wanted something else to f a l l back on, so I applied at a few places." During the interview I thought that she might have meant that she had applied for nursing i n a few places i n order to assure being accepted somewhere, but i n re-reading the t r a n s c r i p t I am not sure whether I can surmise that. I need to c l a r i f y t h i s with her i n the follow up. Again this was confirmed by Janice. She had applied to virtually every place that gave a general nursing program and was actually accepted to Prince George before she found out about Douglas College. However once the acceptance from Prince George was there, she reconsidered going there as it was so far away from home. The acceptance from Douglas came shortly thereafter, so she decided to stay with Douglas College. Janice said that she applied to Douglas College l a s t October and was n o t i f i e d t h i s summer that she was accepted f o r March of 1991. i n the meantime she has been preparing herself as a student by taking a f i r s t aid course and a C.P.R. course and courses at Douglas College, which, even i f they had nothing to do with nursing, she stated that she learned from them. She also began volunteering at the h o s p i t a l t h i s past summer which she r e a l l y enjoys. Janice seemed to be very focused. She did not express disappointment at not having been accepted to B.C.I.T. and while she said that she was frus t r a t e d i n not having been able to take biology at Douglas College l a s t year but rather some very unrelated courses, she was hopeful that t h i s f a l l she could take biology and English which are two courses that would count towards the nursing program. We did not explore her feeli n g s 256 about being accepted at Douglas College i n the nursing program which i s something that I wish to do i n the follow up. At t h i s point Janice showed a genuine sense of relief on her face which was reflected in her words. "I was glad I made it." The 'gladness' it turned out was definitely connected to relief, as she had written an entrance exam to be accepted and had been waiting on the r e s u l t s . Once she was accepted she knew that she had passed the exams, as well as having met all the other requirements for entrance. Later, after the tape had been turned off and we sat to chat with her mom who asked if she could join us at that point, she stated that she had s t i l l not been able to r e g i s t e r for Biology t h i s semester, but that she would automatically be in the course next semester as the students accepted to nursing were given p r i o r i t y in the course once they started the program. While she was not completely happy about that as she had wanted that out of the way before she started nursing, she was accepting of the fact and looked to an easy semester which would s t i l l permit her to continue working at her j o b s . Janice believes that i t i s d i f f i c u l t for young people to make decisions now days because of the many choices a v a i l a b l e to them. I got the f e e l i n g that she sometimes longs for a past that she has only read or heard about; where schools channelled students into vocational areas and where women had the option of ju s t being at home and r a i s i n g children. However, she does not f e e l c r i t i c a l about the choices a v a i l a b l e either, " i t i s n ' t bad, i t ' s just hard to decide." Ultimately, she believes that i f people are l e f t to make t h e i r own decisions and do not allow themselves to be pushed into things by other people, most of them w i l l go with something that they found i n t e r e s t i n g at some point i n t h e i r l i f e . Just as she had found her place out of a pleasant experience i n childhood, so others have had pleasant experiences that w i l l guide them to t h e i r careers. She gives the example of a g i r l f r i e n d who i s now thinking of going into teaching: "I think t h i s i s si m i l a r as me; memories from when she was l i t t l e . She r e a l l y had a good time i n school." In addition to considering herself persistent, Janice also considers herself c a r e f u l and thoughtful. She believes that f i r s t impressions are important to making a decision but that one needs to s i t back and r e a l l y evaluate what one would l i k e to do or have. She 257 gave an example of how she c a r e f u l l y shops fo r clothes so that nothing ever just s i t s i n her c l o s e t . She says she has never regretted a purchase which she has made. While not being able to r e a l l y a r t i c u l a t e f o r h e r s e l f the decision making process she engages i n , I f e l t that she was genuinely i n control of her process and comfortable that she would be able to make appropriate decisions for herself. Janice describes her future occupation i n p o s i t i v e and warm terms, recognizing both the opportunity provided here i n the province and elsewhere i n the world by the shortage of nurses. Janice i s also cognizant of the opportunities provided within the occupation i n terms of being able to do a va r i e t y of jobs without leaving the nursing f i e l d . She fe e l s that i t w i l l be a " r e a l l y f u l f i l l i n g " job for her and that she w i l l receive a " l o t of joy" from helping people who are hurt. She also sees as p o s i t i v e that i t i s a job where she can "actually see the r e s u l t s " of her work, and one where she w i l l be able to actualize a future dream of t r a v e l l i n g because nursing can be practised a l l over the world. The interview l e f t me f e e l i n g that there was much depth i n t h i s person which I was unable to fathom. Janice was cautious, p o l i t e and f r i e n d l y throughout. Perhaps she f e l t unsure that she would be permitted to remain i n control of the interview, or perhaps she i s a very private person but she was able to portray a young woman who had a goal and would not permit anything to dissuade her from i t . It seemed that when I had finished reading the summary to her, Janice was more open to discuss some of the questions that had been left in my mind. This interview turned out to be much more relaxing for both of us it seemed. She made no comment to my l a s t paragraph but smiled her assent that I had been on the right track. We spoke a l i t t l e off tape on the topic of my t h e s i s . She was interested in the way I was doing it and hoped that she had been able to help me. Once her mother joined us, the conversation was focused on her concerns for her daughter. Janice's mother was very outspoken about the college system which she f e l t discriminated against people l i k e her daughter, who in her opinion was not a s s e r t i v e enough to get the things that she should be getting (her courses such as biology). Janice's gentle humour was nevertheless 258 pointed in asserting herself over her mother "Well mom, maybe next time I ' l l send you to r e g i s t e r me" she laughed. I left with an i n v i t a t i o n to come back for a coffee at some time and a feeling that here was one person who knew where she was going. 

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