The Salience of a Career Calling among College Students: Exploring Group Differences and Links to Religiousness, Life Meaning, and Life Satisfaction

By Duffy, Ryan D.; Sedlacek, William E. | Career Development Quarterly, September 2010 | Go to article overview

The Salience of a Career Calling among College Students: Exploring Group Differences and Links to Religiousness, Life Meaning, and Life Satisfaction


Duffy, Ryan D., Sedlacek, William E., Career Development Quarterly


The authors examined the degree to which 1st-year college students endorse a career calling and how levels of calling differ across demographic variables and religiousness, life meaning, and lire satisfaction. Forty-four percent of students believed that having a career calling was mostly or totally true of them, and 28% responded to searching for a calling in the same fashion. Students seeking advanced professional degrees were more likely to feel a career calling, and the presence of a calling was found to weakly correlate with religiousness and life satisfaction and moderately correlate with life meaning. Practice implications are suggested.

In its century-old form, the term calling meant a direct call by God to a religious vocation. Today, this term has grown to take on a variety of meanings and is often applied to both religious and nonreligious career paths (Dik & Duffy, 2009). Within the career literature, relatively little empirical research has been completed to understand the degree to which specific populations endorse this construct and in turn how having the presence of, or searching for, a career calling relates to demographic and psychological variables. The purpose of the present study was W explore the salience of this construct for student populations; determine which groups of students are most likely to endorse a career calling; and determine how having a career calling, or searching for one, relates to religiousness, life meaning, and life satisfaction.

The term calling is not represented in any of the major theories of career choice. Nevertheless, we believe that Super's (1990) developmental mode! of career development may provide the most useful framework for conceptualizing tie potential role of a career calling in students1 career decision making. First, perhaps more than any other major career development theory, Super's theory emphasizes that an extremely wide range of person and contextual variables may affect career choice. Second, Super's developmental approach provides a theoretical background for the career-related tasks encountered by students in the current study. Super suggested that from the ages of 18 to 21 years most individuals are in the specification stage, or engaged in a process of firming their vocational goals. In this stage, students are hypothesized to be actively exploring aspects of themselves, which can be used as information in making major and career choices. Super believed that the formation of goals is influenced by a host of these variables, including both personal variables (e.g., personality, interests, skills, values) and societal variables (e.g., economy, labor market; Super, 1990). Although having a career calling, or searching for one, was not a theme explored by Super, we hypothesize that this construct may represent another important personal variable that could have a significant impact on career decision making.

Career development researchers have paid particular attention to the person variables within Super's (1990) model in an effort to understand the factors that affect college students' career decision making. The most common variables studied are vocational interests, skills, personality, perceived abilities, and work values (Luzzo, 2000; Niles, Erford, Hunt, & Watts, 1997). Students are theorized to use some combination of these variables in making their ultimate career decisions, and research has shown that the development of these dimensions (e.g., interests, skills, values) is dependent on a host of additional predictor variables. These can include environmental experiences; family influence ( Whiston & Keller, 2004); disability (Hitchings, Luzzo, Retish, Horvath, & Ristow, 1998); lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender identity (Tomhnson & Fassinger, 2003); educational goals (Meinster & Rose, 2001 ); gender (Lippa, 1998); and race or culture (Worthington, Flores, & Navarro, 2005). In this exploratory study, one of our goals was to understand how some of these previously studied constructs might relate to students' experiences of a career calling. …

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