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04/29/2009

Flexibility can reduce career concerns

Personal attributes such as adaptability and flexibility can help protect young people from worrying excessively about their future career success.

Griffith University psychologist Professor Peter Creed said while focus and goal setting were critical factors in career planning and success, strategies to monitor those goals and fully investigate career options were also important.

A study of some 250 first year university students found career adaptability strategies, including the ability to explore aspects of both career and self, were associated with fewer career concerns.

“University students have concerns about whether or not they will succeed in their uni courses, whether they will get a job in their chosen career, do well and survive long-term in that career,” Professor Creed said.

”The more adaptable and flexible they are, and the more self regulation skills they have such as managing their emotions, then the fewer career concerns they have.”

He said career adaptability was heavily influenced by the student’s perceived level of social support.

“The support of family and friends helps young people feel safe and secure enough to pursue career information and consider aspects of themselves such as their likes and dislikes, and strengths and weaknesses.”

Professor Creed said young people should resist making early career decisions that effectively close off options.

“Our education system forces young people to make career choices very early and for those going to university, to select just one of many vocationally orientated degrees.”

“However an important message to young people is to keep their options open as much as possible and to recognise that there are multiple pathways to most goals and multiple outcomes from most pathways.”

He said an engineering degree for example could lead to a traditional career in a big city firm or to development work in a third world country.

The study on career adaptability and career concerns was presented recently at the International Congress of Psychology in Berlin.

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