Academic journal article Professional School Counseling

The Career Beliefs of Inner-City Adolescents

Academic journal article Professional School Counseling

The Career Beliefs of Inner-City Adolescents

Article excerpt

This research explored the career beliefs of inner-city adolescents (N = 97). Results identified six types of beliefs: success is related to effort, job satisfaction, work interest and liking, flexibility/adaptability, achievement and persistence, and toleration of uncertainty. A majority of these young people believed that their success was not related to their efforts and had beliefs inconsistent with flexibility/adaptability. Findings are interpreted in light of Happenstance Learning Theory (Krumboltz 2009).

Inner cities is a general term for impoverished areas of large cities. The inner city is "characterized by minimal educational opportunities, high unemployment and crime rates, broken families, and inadequate housing" (American Heritage New Dictionary of Cultural Literacy, 2005, p. 435). Researchers have highlighted the importance of studying inner-city adolescents' career development in order to assist them to successfully plan and prepare for careers that are economically viable in our quickly changing world of work (Lapan, 2004; Turner & Conkel, 2010; Turner et al., 2008). In particular, studying career development among inner-city young people is important for school counselors because career planning and career interventions are one-third of the ASCA National Models' (American School Counselor Association, 2005) counseling priorities. It is also highly relevant in light of the importance of focusing on career and college readiness plans and creating a career- and college-ready culture in schools, particularly in highminority and high-poverty schools, such as are found in the inner cities (Holcomb-McCoy, 2010).

As a whole, compared to adolescents from other demographic groups, inner-city adolescents encounter barriers that hinder access to viable career paths. For example, inner-city adolescents as a group have lower academic achievement than do suburban adolescents who are more affluent (Greene, 2002; Uzzell et al., 2011). Further, these young people have less opportunity to engage in career exploration, less information regarding those career options in which they are interested, and less opportunity to understand the links between working and successfully reaching their goals. This is the case, in part, because of the high rates of unemployment in the inner cities that give inner-city young people less access to working role models who can share how their efforts helped them meet their own career objectives (Savage, 2008; Wilson, 1996).

Moreover, inner-city adolescents often do not achieve academically (Green, 2002; Uzzell et al., 2011); city school districts across the country have a graduation rate of approximately 50%. Thus, many innter-city young people are underprepared educationally to find meaningful, satisfying work. They are also less likely to have developed the flexibility and adaptability, which are also related to exploration and prior academic and career planning, to make successful school-to work and job-to-job transitions (Blustein, 2006; Blustein, Juntunen, & Worthington, 2000; Bureau of Labor Statistics, 2009; Turner, 2007). Thus, they may be in a less advantageous position than adolescents from other groups to pursue the occupational options afforded by the changing opportunity structures that comprise the current and future world of work.

In this rapidly changing work world, jobs are continuing to become more short term, project driven, and contractual in nature, with successful workers able to make transitions quickly to new tasks or employment opportunities (Lapan, 2004). Employees are expected to be interested in their work, educationally prepared, self-directed, achievement and goal oriented, and able to work collaboratively with others who are different from themselves. They are also expected to be flexible, adaptable, and able to tolerate uncertainty in both employment prospects and employment direction (Lapan; Turner & Conkel, 2010).

In addition to the environmental barriers that inner-city youth face, their career development behaviors can also be maladaptive based on the limiting career beliefs they develop. …

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