Not Just for Undergraduates: Examining a University Narrative-Based Career Management Course for Engineering Graduate Students
Keywords:career planning courses, narrative career development, qualitative research, graduate students, career management, social constructivism
The experiences of graduate engineering students enrolled in a credit-bearing, career management course at a Canadian University were explored from a narrative perspective. Scant literature exists on the outcomes of career planning courses at the graduate level, largely because these classes tend to be aimed at undergraduate students. Individual interviews were conducted with 10 students who completed the semester-length course. The inquiry focused on students’ life-career plans and their experiences in the course. Applying social constructivism to career development as a theoretical framework, thematic analysis was used to generate results in the form of three main thematic categories. These categories included: fostering career awareness and exploration skills; finding affiliation with others; and developing optimism and confidence. Findings highlight the benefits for graduate students who are offered opportunities to develop career planning skills through credit bearing courses. Implications for practice, policy, and research exist based on the data analysis, including alternative strategies to incorporate life-career planning skills into graduate-level coursework.
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