Understanding the Possible Impact of a Community Service Learning Experience during University on Career Development


  • Mark Baetz Wilfrid Laurier University
  • Chris McEvoy Wilfrid Laurier University
  • Keith Adamson Wilfrid Laurier University
  • Colleen Lomis Wilfrid Laurier University


community service learning, experience, university, career development, volunteer


There is general consensus that volunteer and community servicelearning (CSL) experiences are important to career development even though research remains unclear on the relationship and about how best to help students make a link between service and career decisions. This study investigated the possible impact of CSL experiences on students’ career development among a sample of Canadian university students. Interviews were conducted with students (N = 36) who had completed a CSL component in one or more psychology courses. Responses revealed that there are many factors and stakeholders involved in the relationship between a service-learning experience and career thinking, and different aspects of the experience can affect career choice in different ways.  Further analysis of interview data found a connection between CSL and career thinking either towards or away from confirming a career choice and the type of impact varied by four characteristics: (1) the number of placements, (2) reflection assignments and activities, (3) emotional engagement, and (4) matching/degree of fit between the placement setting and a student’s expectations for the placement.  Our findings may explain the inconclusive and unexpected findings of past research and guide career counsellors and teachers in facilitating reflections that foster student career development.


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How to Cite

Baetz, M., McEvoy, C., Adamson, K., & Lomis, C. (2012). Understanding the Possible Impact of a Community Service Learning Experience during University on Career Development. Canadian Journal of Career Development, 11(1), 29–37. Retrieved from https://cjcd-rcdc.ceric.ca/index.php/cjcd/article/view/214