Academic journal article Career Development Quarterly

Continuity in Life-Span Career Development: Career Exploration as a Precursor to Career Establishment

Academic journal article Career Development Quarterly

Continuity in Life-Span Career Development: Career Exploration as a Precursor to Career Establishment

Article excerpt

The authors examined continuity in career development from adolescence to middle adulthood by testing the proposition that early developmental task-coping activity predicts later task-coping activity. One hundred forty-six rural high school graduates reported career exploratory activity in 9th grade and 12th grade, occupational choice clarity in 12th grade, and occupational establishment activity 25 years later. Controlling for gender, school grades, and verbosity, occupational choice clarity predicted midcareer establishment activity. The prediction models were somewhat different by gender.

The life-span developmental perspective on careers emphasizes continuity, that is, the progressive dynamic processes of maturation and adaptation. Life-span, life-space developmental theorists (Super, Savickas, & Super, 1996) adopted the constructs of (a) life stage (see Buehler, 1933) to depict predominant states in the unfolding process of career development and (b) developmental tasks (see Havighurst, 1953) to capture the predictable, socially impinged adaptive challenges within each stage. Developmental tasks are distinguished from unpredictable events, such as economic conditions and natural disasters, which also require adaptive processes. Life stages are segments of the life-span career, and developmental tasks are the socially normative, age-graded influences on behavior during each stage. The stage names signal the principal tasks to be mastered at each of five life career stages: growth (usually experienced between ages 4 and 13 years), exploration (ages 14-24 years), establishment (ages 25-44 years), maintenance (ages 45-65 years), and disengagement (age 65 years and over).

Life-span theorists propose that developmental continuity is manifested through the progressive mastery of age-graded tasks (Super et al., 1996). Success in mastering tasks at one stage results in both effective function-ing within that stage and preparation to address the tasks of subsequent stages. This principle is consistent with Havighurst's (1953) developmental proposition that "good performance on a task at one age will be followed by good performance on this or similar tasks at later ages" (p. 320). The details of good performance, or career development task mastery, are elaborated in Super's (1963) list of attitudes and behaviors that are associated with vocational developmental tasks. In addition, Savickas (1984) deconstructed task mastery into coping responses, that is, "behaviors instrumental to satisfactory and satisfying responses to the tasks" (p. 222). Identifying specific coping behaviors as good performance on stage-specific developmental tasks permits counselors and researchers to assess interindividual differences within a given life stage and allows for examination of intraindividual developmental changes across the life course. In summary, the major constructs in career development theory are organized hierarchically, with life-span career divided into life stages, each of which contains developmental tasks and a range of coping behaviors that constitute task mastery.

The sequence of career life stages and tasks is not fixed and inevitable, as are stages in Piaget's developmental theory, for example. Although the career life stages and tasks are linear and predictable, they do not occur in invariant order. The ages and sequence at which people encounter the tasks of each life stage may vary, depending on individual biosocial development and life situations. For example, some people will cope successfully with exploratory tasks and enter the establishment stage in their early 20s, some will continue to explore indefinitely, and others will, in their 30s, return to exploratory tasks in order to enter a different type of work. According to developmental theory, one set of behaviors will be dominant during a life stage; for example, exploratory behavior will generally override other behaviors during adolescence. …

Search by... Author
Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed

Oops!

An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.