University students' Perceptions of Unplanned Events as a Factor in the Process of Career Choice


  • Ozlem Ulas-Kilic Giresun University
  • Selen Demirtas-Zorbaz Ordu University
  • Seval Kizildag Adiyaman University


career choice, unplanned events, happenstance learning theory, university students


The unplanned events that individuals encounter throughout their lives may either positively or negatively impact their careers. Hence, the authors aimed to reveal what is perceived as chance in university students’ career development stories and how these students view the effects of the events perceived by them as chance. The theoretical framework for this study is Happenstance Learning Theory developed by Krumboltz. Participants in this study consisted of a total of 102 senior students, with 68 women (66.7%) and 34 men (33.3%), attending a medium-size public university in southeastern Turkey. The participants were randomly selected. Conventional content analysis among qualitative analysis methods was used in this study. A form including personal information and chance situations in career choice was used to collect data. Findings obtained in the study indicated that chance events in university students’ career choices were found in three themes: social factors, individual factors, and political/legal factors. Results of the study were discussed in the light of relevant literature and suggestions for researchers were included.



Agarwala, T. (2008). Factors influencing career choice of management students in India. Career Development International, 13(4), 362-376. doi:10.1108/13620430810880844

Ahn, S., Jung, S. H., Jang, S. H., Du, X., Lee, B. H., Rhee, E., ... & Lee, S. M. (2015). Planned happenstance skills and occupational identity status in high school students. Career Development Quarterly, 63(1), 31-43. doi: 10.1002/j.2161-0045.2015.00093.x

Anderson, C. (2010). Presenting and evaluating qualitative research. American Journal of Pharmaceutical Education, 74(8), 141.

Arslan, K. (2002). Üniversiteli gençlerde mesleki tercihler ve girişimcilik eğilimleri [Professional preferences and entrepreneurship trends among university students]. Doğuş Üniversitesi Dergisi, 6, 1-11.

Ayık, Y. Z., Özdemir, A. & Yavuz, U. (2007). Lise türü ve mezuniyet başarısının kazanılan fakülte ile ilişkisinin veri madenciliği tekniği ile analizi [An analysis of the correlation between the type of high school and high school graduation score and University Placement Examination using data mining technique]. Atatürk Üniversitesi Sosyal Bilimler Enstitüsü Dergisi, 10(2), 441-454.

Aytekin, A. (2005). Socio-economic and cultural factors affecting to choose professions: The case study of Manisa (Unpublished master’s thesis). Süleyman Demirel University, Isparta, Turkey.

Bandura A. (2000). Exercise of human agency through collective efficacy. Current Directions in Psychological Science,9, 75-78. doi: 10.1111/1467-8721.00064

Bayraktar, M. (2009). The relationship between the value preferences and the vocational preferences and the vocational preferences of last year students attending high schools (Unpublished master’s thesis). Marmara University, İstanbul, Turkey.

Betsworth, D. G., & Hansen, J.-I. C. (1996). The categorization of serendipitous career development events. Journal of Career Assessment, 4(1), 91–98. doi:10.1177/106907279600400106

Borchert, M. (2002). Career choice factors of high school students (Unpublished master’s thesis). University of Wisconsin, Menomenie, Wisconsin.

Borg, T., Bright, J., & Pryor, R. (2006). The butterfly model of careers: Illustrating how planning and chance can be integrated in the careers of secondary school students. Australian Journal of Career Development, 15(3), 54-59. doi: 10.1177/103841620601500311

Bright, J. E., & Pryor, R. G. (2005). The chaos theory of careers: A user's guide. Career Development Quarterly, 53(4), 291-305. doi: 10.1002/j.2161-0045.2005.tb00660.x

Bright, J. E., Pryor, R. G., & Harpham, L. (2005). The role of chance events in career decision making. Journal of Vocational Behavior, 66(3), 561-576. doi: 10.1016/j.jvb.2004.05.001

Bright, J. E., Pryor, R. G., Chan, E. W. M., & Rijanto, J. (2009). Chance events in career development: Influence, control and multiplicity. Journal of Vocational Behavior, 75(1), 14-25. doi: 10.1016/j.jvb.2009.02.007

Brown, D. (2002). Career choice and development. New York: John Wiley & Sons.

Carpenter, P., & Foster, B. (1977). The career decisions of student teachers. Educational Research and Perspectives, 4(1), 23-33.

Çelikten, M., Şanal, M., & Yeni, Y. (2005). Öğretmenlik mesleği ve özellikleri [The profession of teacher and its feautures]. Sosyal Bilimler Enstitüsü Dergisi,19(2), 207-237.

Chien, J. C., Fischer, J. M., & Biller, E. (2006). Evaluating a metacognitive and planned happenstance career training course for Taiwanese college students. Journal of Employment Counseling, 43(4), 146-153. doi: 10.1002/j.2161-1920.2006.tb00014.x

Clutter, C. (2010). The effects of parental influence on their children’s career choices (Unpublished master’s thesis). Kansas State University, Manhattan.

Edwards, K., & Quinter, M. (2011). Factors influencing students career choices among secondary school students in Kisumu municipality, Kenya. Journal of Emerging Trends in Educational Research and Policy Studies, 2(2), 81-87.

Erdemir, N. (2010). Fizik öğretmen adaylarının bölümü tercih nedenleri ve mekanik konularda akademik başarı düzeylerine etkisi [Physics student teachers’ choice reasons of physics department and ınfluence to success level in mechanic topics]. Erzincan Eğitim Fakültesi Dergisi, 12(1), 1-14.

Fisher, T. A., & Griggs, M. B. (1995). Factors that influence the career development of African- American and Latino youth. The Journal of Vocational Education Research, 20(2), 57-74.

Friesen, J. D. (1981). Vocational counselling: Help from the social sciences. Direction, 10(4), 22-25.

Genç, G., Kaya, A., & Genç, M. (2007). İnönü Üniversitesi tıp fakültesi öğrencilerinin mesleki seçimini etkileyen faktörler [Factors affecting career choice of medical faculty students at Inonu University]. İnönü Üniversitesi Eğitim Fakültesi Dergisi, 8(14), 49-63.

Ginzberg, E., Ginsberg, S. W., Axelrad, S., & Herma, J. L. (1951). Occupational Choice: An Approach to a General Theory. New York, New York: Columbia University Press.

Hirschi, A. (2010). The role of chance events in the school-to-work transition: The influence of demographic, personality and career development variables. Journal of Vocational Behavior, 77(1), 39-49. doi: 10.1016/j.jvb.2010.02.002

Hirschi, A., & Valero, D. (2017). Chance events and career decidedness: Latent profiles in relation to work motivation. The Career Development Quarterly, 65(1), 2-15. doi: 10.1002/cdq.12076

Holland, J. L. (1959). A theory of Vocational Choice. Journal of Counseling Psychology 6(1), 35-45. doi: 10.1037/h0040767

Hsieh, H.-F., & Shannon, S. E. (2005). Three Approaches to Qualitative Content Analysis. Qualitative Health Research, 15(9), 1277–1288. do10.1177/1049732305276687

Kağıtçıbaşı, Ç. (2013). Adolescent autonomy‐relatedness and the family in cultural context: What is optimal?. Journal of Research on Adolescence, 23(2), 223-235. doi: 10.1111/jora.12041

Kerka, S. (2000). Career development, gender, race and class. Retrieved from

Kim, B., Jang, S. H., Jung, S. H., Lee, B. H., Puig, A., & Lee, S. M. (2014). A moderated mediation model of planned happenstance skills, career engagement, career decision self‐efficacy, and career decision certainty. The Career Development Quarterly, 62(1), 56-69. doi: 10.1002/j.2161-0045.2014.00070.x

Kıyak, S. (2006). The criteria that are based by the general high school students who are making occupational choice (Unpublished master’s thesis). Yeditepe University, İstanbul, Turkey.

Korkut, F. (2007). Psikolojik danışmanların mesleki rehberlik ve psikolojik danışmanlık ile ilgili düşünceleri ve uygulamaları [Counselors’ thoughts and practices related to career guidance and counseling]. Hacettepe Üniversitesi Eğitim Fakültesi Dergisi, 32, 187-197.

Korkut-Owen, F. (2008). Mesleki seçimlerini etkileyen ana etmenler [Main factors influencing professional choices]. In R. Özyürek (Ed), Kariyer yolculuğu [The journey of career] (p. 1-23). Ankara: Ulusal Ajans.

Korkut-Owen, F., Kepir, D. D., Özdemir, S., Ulaş, Ö., & Yılmaz, O. (2012). Üniversite öğrencilerinin bölüm seçme nedenleri [Reasons for university student’s program choice]. Mersin Üniversitesi Eğitim Fakültesi Dergisi, 8(3), 135-151.

Krumboltz, J. D. (1998). Serendipity is not serendipitous. Journal of Counseling Psychology, 45, 390-392. doi: 10.1037/0022-0167.45.4.390

Krumboltz, J. D. (2009). The happenstance learning theory. Journal of Career Assessment, 17(2), 135-154. doi: 10.1177/1069072708328861

Krumboltz, J. D. (2011). Capitalizing on happenstance. Journal of Employment Counseling, 48(4), 156-158. doi: 10.1002/j.2161-1920.2011.tb01101.x

Krumboltz, J. D., Foley, P. F., & Cotter, E. W. (2013). Applying the happenstance learning theory to involuntary career transitions. The Career Development Quarterly, 61(1), 15-26. doi: 10.1002/j.2161-0045.2013.00032.x

Krumboltz, J. D., Levin, A. S., & Levin, A. (2010). Luck is no accident: Making the most of happenstance in your life and career (2nd edition). Atascadero: CA, Impact.

Kuzulu, K., & Koçak, F. (1997, May). Hacettepe Üniversitesi hemşirelik yüksekokulu 1. sınıf öğrencilerinin mesleğe yönelimlerini etkileyen faktörler [Factors affecting the occupational choices of the first year students of Hacettepe University nursing school]. 3. Uluslararası Katılımlı Hemşirelik Eğitimi Sempozyumu, Ankara.

Lent, R. W., Brown, S. D., & Hackett, G. (1994). Toward a unifying social cognitive theory of career and academic interest, choice, and performance [monograph]. Journal of Vocational Behavior, 45, 79-122. doi: 10.1006/jvbe.1994.1027

Lent, R. W., Brown, S. D., & Hackett, G. (2002). Social cognitive career theory. In. D. Brown (Ed.), Career choice and development (pp. 255-311). New York: John Wiley & Sons.

Levine, K. J., & Hoffner, C. A. (2006). Adolescents’ conceptions of work: what is learned from different sources during anticipatory socialization? Journal of Adolescent Research, 21(6), 647-669. doi: 10.1177/0743558406293963

Malakcıoğlu, C. (2009). Affective temperament and other factors as influences on vocational choice in a group of senior year high school adolescents in Turkey: A descriptive, cross-sectional field study (Unpublished master’s thesis). İstanbul Bilgi University, İstanbul, Turkey.

Mau, W. C., & Bikos, L. H. (2000). Educational and vocational aspirations of minority and female students: A longitudinal study. Journal of Counseling & Development, 78(2), 186-194. doi: 10.1002/j.1556-6676.2000.tb02577.x

McQuaid, R. & Bond, S. (2004). Gender stereotyping of career choice. Retrieved from

Mikkonen, J., Heikkilä, A., Ruohoniemi, M., & Lindblom‐Ylänne, S. (2009). “I Study Because I’m Interested”: University students’ explanations for their disciplinary choices. Scandinavian Journal of Educational Research, 53(3), 229-244. doi: 10.1080/00313830902917261

Mitchell, K. E., Levin, S., & Krumboltz, J. D. (1999). Planned happenstance: Constructing unexpected career opportunities. Journal of Counseling & Development, 77(2), 115-124. doi: 10.1002/j.1556-6676.1999.tb02431.x

Mosothwane, M. (2002). Pre-service teachers' conceptions of environmental education. Research in Education, 68(1), 26-40. doi: 10.7227/RIE.68.3

Muraguri J. M. (2011). Factors influencing degree choices among female undergraduate students at the University of Nairobi – a case study of the 2010/2011 cohort (Unpublished master’s thesis). University of Nairobi, Kenya.

Navin, D. S. (2009). Effects of dating and parental attachment on career exploration. USA: University of New Hampshire.

Njeri, M. B. (2013). Factors influencing career choices among undergraduate students in public universities in Kenya - A Case Of compassion international sponsored students (Unpublished master’s thesis). University of Nairobi, Kenya.

Öge, S. (2014). Arabesk kader algısı -Orhan Gencebay örneği [Arabesque perception of destiny: Orhan Gencebay case]. Atatürk Üniversitesi İlahiyat Fakültesi Dergisi, 41, 47-76.

Özsarı, İ. (2008). Future related anxiety levels and vocational expectations of fourth grade preservice teachers related to KPSS examination (Unpublished master’s thesis). İstanbul University, İstanbul, Turkey.

Paloş, R., & Drobot, L. (2010). The impact of family influence on the career choice of adolescents. Procedia Social and Behavioral Sciences, 2(2), 3407–3411. doi: 10.1016/j.sbspro.2010.03.524

Pryor, R. (2016). Applying chaos theory to work: The chaos theory of careers. International Journal of Mathematics, Game Theory, and Algebra, 25(4), 369-382.

Roe, A., & Lunneborg, P. W. (1990). Personality development and career choice. In D. Brown & L. Brooks (Eds.), Career choice and development: Applying contemporary theories to practice (2nd ed., pp. 68-101). San Francisco: Jossey-Bass

Rojewski, J. W. (1999). The role of chance in the career development of individuals with learning disabilities. Learning Disability Quarterly, 22(4), 267–278.

Schlesinger, J., & Daley, L. P. (2016). Applying the chaos theory of careers as a framework for college career centers. Journal of Employment Counseling, 53(2), 86-96. doi: 10.1002/joec.12030

Schlosser, F., McPhee, D. M., & Forsyth, J. (2017). Chance events and executive career rebranding: implications for career coaches and non-profit HRM. Human Resource Management, 56(4), 571-591. doi: 10.1002/hrm.21789

Scott, J., & Hatalla, J. (1990). The influence of chance and contingency factors on career patterns of college‐educated women. The Career Development Quarterly, 39 (1), 18-30. doi: 10.1002/j.2161-0045.1990.tb00231.x

Şimşek, M. Ş., & Öge, H. S. (2007) Stratejik ve uluslararası boyutları ile insan kaynakları yönetimi [Strategic and international dimensions and human resources management]. Ankara: Gazi Kitabevi.

Soyer, F., & Can Y. (2007). İş tatmini ile mesleki beklenti ve mesleki destek algılaması arasındaki ilişki: Beden eğitimi öğretmenleri üzerinde bir araştırma [The relationship between job satisfaction and professional expectation and perception of vocational support: A survey on physical education teachers]. Türkiye Sosyal Araştırmalar Dergisi, 11(3), 23-36.

Super, D. E. (1980). A life-span, life-space approach to career development. Journal of Vocational Behavior, 16(3), 282-298. doi: 10.1016/0001-8791(80)90056-1

Sürücü, M. (2005). High school students' vocational maturity and perceived social support level (Unpublished master’s thesis). Gazi University, Ankara, Turkey.

Turkish Language Association (2019). The concept of chance. Retrieved from:

Türküm, A. S. (2005). Do optimism, social network richness, and submissive behavior well-being? Study with a Turkish sample. Social Behavior and Personality, 33(6), 619-628. doi: 10.2224/sbp.2005.33.6.619

Ulaş, Ö., & Yıldırım, İ. (2015). Lise öğrencilerinde mesleki olgunluğun yordayıcıları [The predictors of high school students’ career maturity levels]. Hacettepe Üniversitesi Eğitim Fakültesi Dergisi, 30(2), 151-165.

Urbanaviciute, I., Kairys, A., Paradnikė, K., & Pociute, B. (2019). Capturing serendipity in careers: An evaluation of the Planned Happenstance Career Inventory with Lithuanian undergraduates. Journal of Career Development, 46(2), 157-170. doi: 10.1177/0894845317731158

Vurucu, F. (2010). Occupational choice capability of students in vocational schools and factors affecting their occupational choice (Unpublished master’s thesis). Yeditepe University, İstanbul, Turkey.

Williams, E. N., Soeprapto, E., Like, K., Touradji, P., Hess, S., & Hill, C. E. (1998). Perceptions of serendipity: Career paths of prominent academic women in counseling psychology. Journal of Counseling Psychology, 45(4), 379-389.

Yıldırım, İ., & Ergene T. (2003). Lise son sınıf öğrencilerinin akademik başarılarının yordayıcısı olarak sınav kaygısı, boyun eğici davranışlar ve sosyal destek [Social support, submissive acts, and test anxiety as predictors of academic achievement among high school students]. Hacettepe Üniversitesi Eğitim Fakültesi Dergisi, 25, 224-234.



How to Cite

Ulas-Kilic, O. ., Demirtas-Zorbaz, S. ., & Kizildag, S. . (2020). University students’ Perceptions of Unplanned Events as a Factor in the Process of Career Choice. Canadian Journal of Career Development, 19(1), 14–24. Retrieved from