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Institutional research into careers as a way of enhancing students’ academic and career development Maura O’Regan 30 th June 2010 HEIR Conference DCU.

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Presentation on theme: "Institutional research into careers as a way of enhancing students’ academic and career development Maura O’Regan 30 th June 2010 HEIR Conference DCU."— Presentation transcript:

1 Institutional research into careers as a way of enhancing students’ academic and career development Maura O’Regan 30 th June 2010 HEIR Conference DCU

2 POLICYRESEARCHPRACTICE Focus on student satisfaction and destinations post-graduation e.g. O’Regan (2009, 2010) Tomlinson (2007) Holmes (2001) Focus on the end result, Making career decisions Not linked to theory Career is idiosyncratic, subjective and contextualised Linked to ‘old’ theory Tend to see the student body as a homogenous group (one size fits all) Simplistic view of career path

3 Academic development  Academic skills  Research methodology  Empirical evidence – Positional papers  Application of theory to practice  Critical analysis  Discussion topics  Discipline variations

4 Research strategy Interviews & Diary entries Formal Informal Conversations & PRACTICAL APPROACH Autumn Spring Summer Volunteers = 30 Second year undergraduates 14 History (single or combined) 16 Economics (modules) 15 Male 15 Female QUALITATIVE & INTERPRETIVE

5 FUTURE FOCUS LOWHIGH CAREER RELEVANCE LOW HIGH Orientated to LEARNING Have made a smooth transition to university Are enjoying their studies Value their studies and what they are gaining academically Are relatively unconcerned about their career - it will come later Orientated to INSTRUMENTALISM Have come to university to get a degree to further their career ideas Take a very strategic approach to their career and their future Take advantage of every opportunity Are aware of what they need to do to realise their career aspirations Set themselves goals and targets Orientated to INTROSPECTION Have not made a smooth transition to university Are anxious about fitting in Worry about passing their exams Need a lot of support as lack confidence and self-esteem Orientated to HESITATION Have made a smooth transition to university Are flexible, easy going and enjoy the social aspects of university Know what type of career they want but realising it is too far in the future Know what they need to do but never seem to get around to doing it Leave things to the last minute but take responsibility for their procrastination O’Regan, M. (2010) Challenging conventional thinking about career in the higher education curriculum. Career Research & Development NICEC Journal, 23, pp Billy Alice Phoebe Liz James

6 Is studying history. Only ‘slackers’ at his school didn’t go to university. ‘It was presumed that I would’…‘it was drilled into us’. Settles into university life very easily. Had wanted to travel for a year before university but felt from the family’s point of view, it was not a good time to go away. Graduates with a 2.1 and moves back home. Goes travelling for three months and it ‘was the best thing I had ever done ever’ James Does not ‘really want to do the graduate scheme….I’d prefer to start from a lower level and go up through the ranks…start from scratch’ Would like to do ‘practical things – anything hands on really wouldn’t be too bad’. But ‘if there was a job leading from doing a history degree... I’d enjoy doing that. But I’m just not sure what sort of job titles there are’ Is accepted onto the paramedic training scheme and is ‘happy I want to do a job where I can make a difference and like help others. I think this time last year, I probably wouldn't have cared that much … And so I am happy that has changed. It really was travelling that made that difference’ Engineer, Journalist Engineer, Journalist I haven’t really got anything in mind at the moment. No. I haven’t decided anything yet. RAF Paramedic Civil service Works in local government office during summer vacation which was ‘a bit boring’, Does emergency training with the ambulance service to become ‘First Response’ trained and begins to consider becoming a paramedic. Thinks it will ‘be ideal. It will ‘be intense working in London as a paramedic. So I spent ages writing a personal statement…’ Comes back to a recession. He looks at the graduate jobs. ‘I either didn't particularly want to do or wasn't driven hard enough to do…I went for some interviews and the one thing they said to me at the end of it was, I lacked the drive to get these jobs’. He agrees and starts working in the local pub. © Maura O’Regan September 2009

7 Takes a gap year because he doesn’t know what he wants to study at university. Trains as a croupier to as wants to work on cruise ships to combine work and travel. ‘Rushes’ into doing a cybernetics degree and drops out. Travels to Australia, comes back and works in casinos. Trader, Accountant Wants to be a trader but also do an accountancy qualification ‘because I don’t want to be a trader all my life…because you just burn yourself out. I’d like to set my- self up in my own business eventually’. His concern is that accountancy is a ‘mundane job’, ‘no buzz there, no yeah I got it!’ Begins applying for internships. Gets only rejections. Goes to the Palace to collect his Duke of Edinburgh award. Proprietary Trader Recruitment consultant – Financial services Buys a narrow boat. Starts his degree course. Does Duke of Edinburgh Gold award for which he coaches judo, learns how to horse ride, does motor cycle maintenance, plans an expedition. At university is on the student - staff committee. Is part of a fund management club where they plan where to invest their money. Joe Begins applying for investment banking roles in his final year. More rejections. Talks to university staff in his department about interview technique. Gets a First class degree and is offered a position as a Proprietary Trader. Pays £2,500 a month for his desk and all the kit. ‘It is high risk, high reward and it’s exactly what I want to do’…’ I think I'm going to learn more in like a week working there than I have on my degree probably, because it is relevant to what I'm doing’ Work on cruise ships Visits university career service as wants a more interesting job with better promotional opportunities. ‘Couldn’t see myself getting into management’…didn’t want to ‘suck’ up to them. Decides to do a finance related degree, takes A level economics to get on the course. ‘Why didn’t I think of this years ago? Interested in finance from an early age – his granddad had his own portfolio of investments. Had ‘fantasy portfolios myself as a kid’ Trader ‘It’s like work, sleep and then get up… So yeah basically just, well it is a massive part of your life’. Makes £ but after expenses has £15,000. After a year in London as a trader by mutual agreement he decides to leave. Starts looking for financial advisor vacancies. Realises he needs a qualification. Signs up for a distance CEFA. Takes a break from job hunting for a few weeks. Is approached by a friend and offered the opportunity to work as a financial services recruitment consultant. Financial services advisor © Maura O’Regan September 2009 Croupier

8 Orientation to labour market (LM) (ends) Non-market orientation Ritualist next largest group Careerist almost half undergraduates Rebel none Retreatist 2 undergraduates Career as a life project, a vehicle for self development & personal fulfilment. ‘Play the game’ aware of the need to conform to the rules of the market. ‘Working their way up’ ‘do all you can’. Take an instrumental approach to developing their graduate profiles. Career progression is important – gaining on the ground experience. Use their knowledge of the LM to negotiate the demands of the LM. Female students entering male dominated professions –accountancy, engineering. Work as a ritual process. Work is a means to an end, ‘something you have to do’. Place greater value on lifestyle and life projects operating outside the LM. They lower the stakes and ‘scale down’. aspirations, could be seen as managing the risk, progress more easily with more limited material rewards. Less ambitious expectations - ‘do all you need’ ‘settle for’ public sector work, Female students shy away from male dominated professions, go for lower demand, lower entry markets with anticipated smoother, more stable paths. Do take an instrumental approach to study and developing credentials. Abandoning labour market goals and employability Have genuine feelings of anxiety and disaffection, developing a career is ‘daunting’ They want to extend their youth and continue to enjoy their loosely regulated lifestyles. Indifferent to the LM. Aware of the limitations of their hard credentials. LM was seen as corrupt and greedy, although their rebellion was passive. The author would expect that they would abandon LM goals Reference: Tomlinson, Michael (2007) Graduate employability and student attitudes and orientations to the labour market. Journal of Education and Work, 20(4) pp Ideal type orientation Active Passive (means)

9 References Holmes, Len (2001) Reconsidering Graduate Employability: the ‘graduate identity’ approach. Quality in HE, 7(2) pp O’Regan, Maura (2009) Career Pursuit: : towards an understanding of undergraduate students’ orientation to career. Unpublished PhD, University of Reading. O’Regan, Maura (2010) Challenging conventional thinking about career in the higher education curriculum. Career Research & Development NICEC Journal, 23, pp Tomlinson, Michael (2007) Graduate employability and student attitudes and orientations to the labour market. Journal of Education and Work, 20(4) pp

10 Contact details: In conclusion It’s really not the end of the world for me if I don’t get an amazing job straight away… Monica Maybe I rushed into making a careers decision in my second year… Phoebe I just don’t think it is important enough for me to start worrying about what I want to do. I’d rather focus on other stuff that I think is more important like studying - focusing on that as opposed to what I want to do in the future…Billy


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