Chapter Two: Career Development

Lumen Learning and Linda Bruce Hill

Career Development

See if you can remember a time in your childhood when you noticed somebody doing professional work. Maybe a nurse or doctor, dressed in a lab coat, was listening to your heartbeat. Maybe a worker at a construction site, decked in a hard hat, was operating noisy machinery. Maybe a cashier at the checkout line in a grocery store was busily scanning bar codes. Each day of your life you could have seen a hundred people doing various jobs. Surely some of the experiences drew your interest and appealed to your imagination.

If you can recall any such times, those are moments from the beginning stage of your career development.

What exactly is career development? It’s a lifelong process in which we become aware of, interested in, knowledgeable about, and skilled in a career. It’s a key part of human development as our identity forms and our life unfolds.  At Granite State College, and in this particular class, you are likely to be learning with people of all ages representing different stages of career development.  At GSC, we use the terms Career Launchers, Changers and Advancers.  Below you will learn how this concept dovetails with the career development stages of theorist Donald Super.

Stages of Career Development

There are five main stages of career development (developed by Donald Super). Each stage correlates with attitudes, behaviors, and relationships we all tend to have at that point and age. As we progress through each stage and reach the milestones identified, we prepare to move on to the next one.

Which stage of career development do you feel you are in currently? Think about each stage. What challenges are you facing now? Where are you headed?

# STAGE DESCRIPTION
1 GROWING This is a time in early years (4–13 years old) when you begin to have a sense about the future. You begin to realize that your participation in the world is related to being able to do certain tasks and accomplish certain goals.
2 EXPLORING This period begins when you are a teenager, extends into your mid-twenties, and may extend later. In this stage you find that you have specific interests and aptitudes. You are aware of your inclinations to perform and learn about some subjects more than others. You may try out jobs in your community or at your school. You may begin to explore a specific career. At this stage, you have some detailed “data points” about careers, which will guide you in certain directions.
3 ESTABLISHING This period covers your mid-twenties through mid-forties. By now you are selecting or entering a field you consider suitable, and you are exploring job opportunities that will be stable. You are also looking for upward growth, so you may be thinking about an advanced degree.
4 MAINTAINING This stage is typical for people in their mid-forties to mid-sixties. You may be in an upward pattern of learning new skills and staying engaged. But you might also be merely “coasting and cruising” or even  feeling stagnant. You may be taking stock of what you’ve accomplished and where you still want to go.
5 REINVENTING In your mid-sixties, you are likely transitioning into retirement. But retirement in our technologically advanced world can be just the beginning of a new career or pursuit—a time when you can reinvent yourself. There are many new interests to pursue, including teaching others what you’ve learned, volunteering, starting online businesses, consulting, etc.

Keep in mind that your career development path is personal to you, and you may not fit neatly into the categories described above. It’s more common than it has been in the past for people to change careers in their thirties, forties, fifties, and even sixties.Perhaps your socioeconomic background changes how you fit into the schema. Perhaps your physical and mental abilities affect how you define the idea of a “career.” Chance is a factor that plays into everyone’s career path in a way that can’t be predicted or anticipated. You are unique, and your career path can only be developed by you.

Watch this video on the theories of Donald Super to learn more. The first part of the video explains the career development stages.  The second part of the video outlines Super’s life role concepts.  Be sure to identify your current career stage and the life roles you are playing, as you will need to discuss them in this week’s discussion module.  Life Role information begins at 3.03.

Career Development Resources in Your College, Community, and Beyond

Career experts say that people will change careers (not to mention jobs) five to seven times in a lifetime. So your career will likely not be a straight and narrow path. Be sure to set goals and assess your interests, skills and values often. Seek opportunities for career growth and enrichment. And take advantage of the rich set of resources available to you. Below are just a few.

Career Services at Granite State College

Whether you are a prospective student, a current student, a graduate, or even an employer, you can obtain invaluable career development assistance from the career services department.  In addition to taking this course, you can get individualized support by working with a career advisor who will  guide and empower you through every step of the career development process.  Take advantage of this valuable service!  The Kuder Journey Career Development Software System that you are using to take the assessments for the course is a life time account and is available to you even after you graduate college.  Take advantage of its many features!

Plan, Do, Check, Act

PDCA (plan–do–check–act) is a four-step strategy for carrying out change. You can use it to evaluate where you are in the career development process and to identify your next steps. The strategy is typically used in the business arena as a framework for improving processes and services. But you can think of your career as a personal product you are offering or selling.

  1. PLAN: What are your goals and objectives? What process will you use to get to your targets? You might want to plan smaller to begin with and test out possible effects. For instance, if you are thinking of getting into a certain career, you might plan to try it out first as an intern or volunteer or on a part-time basis. When you start on a small scale, you can test possible outcomes.
  2. DO: Implement your plan. Sell your product—which is YOU and your skills, talents, energy, and enthusiasm. Collect data as you go along; you will need it for charting and analyzing in the Check and Act steps ahead.
  3. CHECK: Look at your results so far. Are you happy with your job or wherever you are in the career development process? How is your actual accomplishment measuring up next to your intentions and wishes? Look for where you may have deviated in your intended steps. For example, did you take a job in another city when your initial plans were for working closer to friends and family? What are the pros and cons? If you like, create a chart that shows you all the factors. With a chart, it will be easier to see trends over several PDCA cycles.
  4. ACT: How should you act going forward? What changes in planning, doing, and checking do you want to take? The PDCA framework is an ongoing process. Keep planning, doing, checking, and acting. The goal is continuous improvement.

CC licensed content, Original:

CC licensed content, Shared previously

  • Campus to Career Quiz. Authored by: Ronda Dorsey Neugebauer. Provided by: Chadron State College. Project: Kaleidoscope Open Course Initiative. License: CC BY: Attribution.
  • Adaptions: slight formatting changes, removed image of people in lab, removed image of plan-do-check-act, removed quote. Relocated Learning Objectives.

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Blueprint for Success in College: Career Decision Making by Lumen Learning and Linda Bruce Hill is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License, except where otherwise noted.

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