We wish to thank various people for their contribution to this paper. Special thanks should be given to our informant, Mrs. Jenny Tranter who contributed her time and provided valuable information for this paper.
We would also like to acknowledge all the lectures for giving us such a good opportunity to do ECL305 Project. Also thank them for providing guidance for us to conduct the whole project.
Finally, we are grateful to language support staff for their constructive and comments. Their comments and suggestions have greatly improved this paper.
A career is an important part of person's life, and it continues across the whole life span (Super, 1957:14). Career paths have become increasingly varied, and unpredictable as the factors influence one's career are increasingly complex and dynamic.
This paper aims to investigate these factors and present the findings in ELC305 Project. In this Project, we interviewed a resident, Mrs. Jenny Tranter, about her career path and what affected her career development. This will be taken as an empirical example to justify career development theories.
This paper is divided into three main section. It will first discuss some theories about career development, followed by a section presenting the findings in an interview. Finally, it will discuss the theories with the empirical example.
There were some limitations in this paper. Only one person was interviewed, and some conclusions were drawn based on it. Thus, it is likely to be partial and subjective. Also, it only used interview methods for research. More research methods are needed to collect more accurate and comprehensive information
Theory of career development 200:
Trait and factor theory:
This theory highlights the importance of personal traits in career development and suggests that people could choose a job which reflects personal traits (Parsons, 1989:22). Similarly, it is stated that certain types of personality fit into certain types of work environment (Holland, 1985:34). For example, if people are interested in observing, researching and experimenting, their most appropriate occupation would be like scientists or researchers.
However, there are some limitations in this theory. For instance, everyone has their unique personality, so it is difficult to define an individual character. Also, may people gain some knowledge or skills to adapt better to a particular job, but this choice may not suit their personality.
Social learning theory:
On the other hand, it is pointed out that there are four categories of factors that influence career decision making. These are 'genetic endowment and special abilities', 'environmental conditions and events',' learning experience' and' task approach skills'. This theory not only identified the internal factors and external environment, but also stressed the importance of learning the experience in career development (Mitchell and Krumboltz1996:16). Moreover, it puts forward that the interaction of the first three categories of factors results in the task approach skills category.
According to the interview, Jenny had three careers. Her first job was working in the bank. There are two main reasons for her to choose this job. Firstly, her parents wanted her to do business, and they could offer her a job in the bank. Secondly, it was hard for women to get a job at that time so working in the bank is a good choice.
During her first job, she changed workplace twice. The first was due to her husband getting a job in London, so she decided to work in London. The second is because her parents were in poor health, so she decided to go back to Plymouth.
She worked in the bank for years, and she retired as a customer service manager. However, she was only fifty years old when she retired, so she still wanted to do something. Thus, she found a job at civil service and worked for a child support agency. She retired from this job she retired last year.
After this, she decided to work for school as a class assistance on a voluntary basis. This is because she wanted to do something useful, and she loves children.
A review of the literature suggests that there are many factors influencing career development. These factors can be broadly divided into three categories:
- Internal factors: personality, traits
- External factors: social, cultural, economic forces
- Situational factors: learning experience
This paper identifies that these three categories of factors all affect Jenny's career path. Also, the research shows that career development theories are consistent with the interview findings.
During the interview, Jenny appears active, outgoing, and talkative, and she loves her jobs. Customer service manager and school assistance are the jobs that demands people have good communication skills and 'social' personality). It reflects that her personality matches her job, so she is well adapted to her work (Holland, 1985:24).
However, Jenny chose to work in a bank not because she like the job, but her parents wanted her to, and the work environment was unfavorable to women. It shows that sometimes people choose their job not because their personal preference but the external environment. Furthermore, she changed workplace twice because of her husband and parents. It also demonstrates that family and personal issues these external factors have considerable influence on people's career path.
Working in the bank is very hard at that time. There were no machines and calculators all the work had to be accomplished by hand. This made it very difficult to work in the bank. Moreover, they had to work from eight in the morning to five in the afternoon, and there was only half an hour for lunch. According the interview, Jenny appeared to be well managed in her work. This can be explained by 'Learning experience' (Mitchell and Krumboltz, 1996:28). This is because she studied at boarding school. At that time, she lived a much disciplined life, and she was expected to work hard. As a result, previous experience helps her well adapted to the hard working environment in the banking.
This paper examines three career development theories. It identifies that internal factors, external environment and situational factors are the three main factors affect people's career path. The interview results suggest that people are satisfied when their job matches their personalities that were consistent with personality theory. Apart to these internal factors, the interview findings also show that the external environment also has a profound influence on career path. Prior to traits and personality theory, social learning theory considers internal and external factors as well as situational factors. Interview results also demonstrate that previous learning experience (situational factors) has an impact on later career path. People need to take all the factors into consideration when they make career decisions. Internal and external factors are hard to control, but they can enhance their experience to adapt to the work environment.
Holland, J.L. (1985) Making vocational choice: A theory of vocational personalities and work environments. 2nd ed. Englewood Cliffs, London: Prentice-Hall
Careersnz (2014) Holland's theory [Online] Available at: http://www.careers.govt.nz/educators-practitioners/career-practice/career-theory-models/hollands-theory/ (Accessed: 7 March)
Careersnz (2014) Holland's theory of career choice [Online] Available at:
http://www.careers.govt.nz/fileadmin/docs/career_theory_model_holland.pdf (Accessed: 7 March)
Careersnz (2014) Parsons' theory [Online] Available at:
http://www.careers.govt.nz/educators-practitioners/career-practice/career-theory-models/parsons-theory/ (Accessed: 7 March)
Super, D. (1957). Psychology of Careers, New York: Harper &