In our last blog, Jeff and I considered the sources of oversight that may lead to a phenomenon known as reality shock. Reality shock occurs when an individual, who has successfully completed the requirements for entry into an occupation, experiences a high degree of dissatisfaction upon working within that occupation. We outlined three sources of oversight that could lead to making an occupational decision, which initially looked like a good person-environment fit, but when tested with the reality of performing the actual job, lead to an experience of job dissatisfaction and leaving the occupation to look for another.
The first source of oversight may come from within the individual. In North American society, most individuals make tentative occupational decisions upon leaving high school. Additionally, the preparation for entry into occupations require several or more years of education before entry. This time gap between choice and entry takes place during a significant period of developmental growth from adolescence to adulthood. This growth typically brings new information that ideally should be used in the decision-making. Often after making the occupational decision, individuals do not go back to reassess that decision. We think that individuals in long periods of preparation would do well to re-assess their long-term plans frequently to determine if the recent experiences during the period are in line with the long term objective.
The second source of oversight may concern the episodic experience with the job choice while making the original choice. Often students use information gained from a work experience or some experiences with a person employed in the occupation to make their occupational choices. This experiential information may be helpful, however if the actual experience of being in the occupation is different than that previously experience, dissatisfaction may occur. The reality of being responsible for the number of roles and responsibilities associated with the work may not be what was expected. To avoid such discrepancies, we suggest that individuals who organize work experiences for adolescents make these experiences as realistic as possible. Students need to perform actual functions required by the occupation so that the episodic information gained is realistic.
The last source of oversight may emanate from the professional identity formation modeled in the educational institution and the differences experienced when deploying the roles and responsibilities in the worksite. Often, those involved in pre-service education, although they have work experience in the occupational environment, may not have had recent experience in that setting. Instead, their role as an educator is different than in the occupation and may lead to a romanticized view of the occupation due to the length of time they have been away from the occupational setting. This view may instill in students an identity that when tested against being deployed in the setting may not be helpful. We suggest that pre-service educators have close ties with the occupational setting so that they are aware and understand the evolving nature of the duties and responsibilities of occupations within the workplace. In fact, we suggest that educators need to spend time periodically working in the occupational setting such that they have a realistic experience of what it is like to work within this occupation.
John Stewart and Jeff Landine
*The views expressed by our authors are personal opinions and do not necessarily reflect the views of the CCPA