UBC Theses and Dissertations

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UBC Theses and Dissertations

A narrative study on the experience of underemployed educated youth Katsamakis, Angela


The purpose of this research was to contribute experiential understanding of the lived experience of underemployment for youth who have graduated from college or university. This study utilized a narrative approach to answer the question: “What is the experience of underemployment for educated youth?” Eight youth (between the ages of 24 and 30) were asked to write a narrative on their experience with underemployment. Participants were invited to reflect on their personal experience of having completed post-secondary education and their experience working in fields that do not require these years of study. They were asked to write the story from their perspective with no rules or guidelines given. A thematic reflection was utilized to understand, organize and reveal the ways these participants experienced underemployment. The narrative thematic methodology selected for analysis is in line with Riessman’s (2008) work, where content is the exclusive focus, and what is said explicitly is what is of great value. The findings acknowledged a transition through loss and stress, and coming out the other side. From this, seven themes emerged: that of unmet expectations, disappointment, career indecision, pressure (internal, external and financial), a reflection on the value of education, a negative impact on psychological well-being and ultimately hope for the future. Then an analysis on the use of metaphor was discussed, as a secondary goal of this research. The findings of this study reveal important information to better understand this population. The study hopes to greater prepare students exiting education and entering the workforce, and to normalize the myriad of emotions or reactions associated with this complicated experience. Finally, specific recommendations are made for future research.

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Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 2.5 Canada