Academic journal article Career Development Quarterly

Toward a More Complex View of Career Exploration

Academic journal article Career Development Quarterly

Toward a More Complex View of Career Exploration

Article excerpt

This article examines the concept of career exploration in adult populations. In contrast to the prevailing positive view of career exploration, the authors present a more complex and balanced perspective of this process, addressing some of the barriers to career exploration and the applicability of this concept to different populations. They examine differences between voluntary exploration and forced or chance exploration, discuss how relationships may be barriers to exploration, consider various outcomes of career explorations, and call for a more holistic view of the individual in career counseling.

Traditionally, career exploration was most commonly associated with the school -to -work transition as a critical stage in an individuars career development (Savickas, 1997; Super, 1957). More recently, scholars and practitioners have started to embrace the idea of career exploration as a lifelong pursuit occurring across life roles and as a means to cope with a variety of career transitions (Blustein, 1997; Niles, Anderson, & Goodnough, 1998). With a focus more on developing an exploratory attitude to life and to the various roles people engage in, career exploration is now seen as an adaptive mechanism that helps individuals manage rapid changes in today's work environment (Blustein, 1997; Super & Knasel, 1981; Zikic & Klehe, 2006).

Despite these developments aimed at broadening the role of career exploration across the life span, very little is known about the specific contextual and unplanned influences on the career exploration experiences of various populations. Likewise, little is known about the variety of outcomes of career exploration and how these outcomes may be managed in the counseling relationship. So far, studies on career exploration have tended to take a positive perspective, whereby planned career exploration efforts were seen as beneficial and likely to bring positive career outcomes. Without denying this view, in this article, we propose a more balanced and inclusive understanding of career exploration Blustein, 2001a) and its outcomes.

As individuals mature and engage in various roles, any attempt at career exploration is embedded in and often highly constrained by various social and cultural influences (Hum & Kapian, 2006). Among other influences, career choices are affected by one's immediate environment, parents, and social and environmental context, as well as one's idiosyncratic characteristics such as age, gender, specific talents, interests, and values. Adding to this wide array of influences are also broader issues, such as geography and political and economic climate. Thus, the dynamic context in which

people live may serve both as a trigger and as a barrier to lifelong career exploration. Noting the recent push toward a more inclusive and holistic study of human development, we propose moving away from seeing career exploration solely in terms of the static and positivist foundations typical of contemporary career theory and, instead, focusing on examining the process of career exploration as embedded in the current notions of complex, "chaotic" (Bright & Pryor, 2005, p. 292), nonlinear, and unplanned influences on an individual's career (Bright & Pryor, 2005; Krumboltz, 1998).

Using this approach, a client is viewed as subject to a wide range of different influences, many if not all of which cannot be predicted by the individual and are continually changing at varied paces and to different degrees (Bright & Pryor, 2005).

From Early Career Fxploratinn to Career Routines

Career exploration is defined as a lifelong process that is triggered particularly during transitions in life (Blustein, 1997; Jordaan, 1963). It involves gathering career-related information and testing hypotheses about the self and the environment to reach career goals (Hall, 1986). The process of career exploration also involves a somewhat overlooked emotional component (Kidd, 1998). …

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