Making Connections Between Self and Occupational Information

Posted by: John Stewart on January 17, 2012 10:52 am

In our last blog, we focused on providing some suggestions career practitioners can do to make the most of the TOKW initiative. We think this initiative represents an episode that could be significant in contributing to adolescents’ vocational identity. Without a vocational identity, individuals experience difficulty conceptualizing career related information and making vocational choices. There are two processes that help the developing adolescent to further elaborate and enhance their emerging vocational identity. These processes are integration and differentiation. In this blog we will focus on integration.

Vocational integration is the process whereby individuals perceive the similarity that exists between their personal attributes in their self-system and the requirements necessary to enter and perform an occupational role.  This integration can take place when adolescents meet a person with whom they identify and who performs an occupational role of interest to them, and/or when they learn of the traits needed to perform the occupational role of interest. We see the results of these two experiences as being stored in either episodic memory (meeting the significant person) or semantic (reading about the occupational role traits) memory.   Both these types of memory contribute to the development of the self-system and to making connections between the self-system and the world of work. It is the connections between these two domains of knowledge that contribute to developing a vocational identity. We think that this aspect of identification is one of several components that aid the process of developing a vocational identity.  Furthermore, we think it plays a significant part during adolescent psychosocial identify formation as postulated by Erikson.

For example, students who have an interest and realize their competencies in mathematics are likely to be interested in occupations where mathematical competencies are utilized.  When students learn that some occupations require competencies in mathematics, they are more likely to be drawn to these occupations due to their perceived personal attribute of mathematical competence.  In other words, the person is able to identify with individuals who perform these occupational roles.   Once a person learns mathematics is a pre-requisite to entry and success in occupations like chartered accountant, actuary, natural and social sciences  researcher, engineering, to name a few, they are more likely to be drawn to them.  We think this ability to understand these similarities depends on the person’s overall cognitive ability to perceive their personal attributes and connect them to those required in the world of work.  The cognitive skill used in this dynamic is the ability to perceive similarities.  

During the exploration phase of vocational development, we think that adolescents continue to gain significant information and insight into the attributes of their self-system, and the knowledge and requirements of the world of work.  It is the development and insight within these two domains that continue during the exploration phase, and ultimately enables the person to engage in the developmental task of crystallizing tentative occupational choices. Career development practitioners, who facilitate the development of self and occupational information and provide experiences for adolescents to perceive the connections between these two types of information, enhance the adolescent’s ability to narrow the range of occupations and propose tentative occupational choices. 

BY: Jeff Landine and John Stewart




*The views expressed by our authors are personal opinions and do not necessarily reflect the views of the CCPA

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