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Title: Career pursuit : towards an understanding of undergraduate students' orientation to career
Author: O'Regan, Maura
ISNI:       0000 0004 2717 5994
Awarding Body: University of Reading
Current Institution: University of Reading
Date of Award: 2009
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This thesis is based on a longitudinal research project conducted at the University of Reading to learn more about the career development of undergraduate students. The research is timely because we have entered a new era in higher education. Government targets and the widening participation agenda leading to increased third level participation have resulted in the growth of a diverse undergraduate population, with differing needs and expectations. The research also comes at a time when universities and employers are concerned with enhancing graduate employability to ensure success in an increasingly competitive labour market. For these reasons, it is important to understand more about how undergraduates approach their careers. The research study is based on a series of interviews and diary entries involving a group of thirty second-year undergraduates from two disciplinary areas, one business-orientated and the other more traditionally Arts based. The findings are described and analysed from an interpretive perspective and presented in the form of quotations, vignettes and career narratives. The factors that have influenced career ideas, including the role of career-related activities, are explored in terms of how they impact on students' pursuit of career. The analysis of the information gathered over the period of an academic year, reveals a complex and incisive picture of undergraduate conceptualisation and orientation to career. This research makes theoretical, methodological and practical contributions to our knowledge of the career development of young people. From the perspective of theory, it has implications for career theory as a new typology for explaining undergraduate students' career development is proposed. Methodologically, this research challenges positivist designs and has implications for researchers engaging in qualitative projects in general, as questions of reflexivity and ethical boundaries are raised. From a practical perspective, the findings suggest that as students are oriented to pursue their education, future and careers in different ways, different approaches to implementing careers support and the employability agenda are required. As a result of these findings, suggestions for possible future research and practice are proposed.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available