Wednesday, 5 October 2016

Career practitioners transition into career development

From what I have observed, after 21 years in the field (16 as a Career Development Association of New Zealand professional member), I think we tend to come to career practice later in Super's late establishment or maturity career stages (& Nevill, 1986).

We do not tend to choose the career development field at the outset of our professions.

I have no 'real' data for this assumption, but am keen to do something on this after my PhD is complete.

But what this means to me is that we start somewhere else, and transition into career practice because our skills, developmental path and sense of social justice or agency lead us this way.

The "somewhere else" is usually where our formal training lies. So we emerge in career practice knowing how to learn, but usually not having had formal training in our new sector.

Like Janus, I see two sides:
  1. We are already professionals who know how to learn, and are aware of what we need to do for continued development. 
  2. We are likely to lack the useful theoretical underpinnings, philosophies and common understandings that will help us be better career practitioners.
If we are to become professional members of our national career organisation in New Zealand, CDANZ requires us to have a formal Career specific qualification at level 6, which is the equivalent of the second year of a degree.

In general this type of learning is not to onerous to us: it is, more or less, simply adding in structure, theory and philosophies to our already developed professional scaffolding, gained elsewhere. It is what gives us a common career language and landscape.

However, if, as we transition into the career development field of practice, we have been a true professional, we will have already been educating ourselves. We will have been gaining familiarity informally with the practices and personas in our emerging field through our own curiosity and drive for development.

I can see the benefits of ensuring that our language and landscape of practice is more complete through formal training. However, I can also see a need for CDANZ, as an organisation, to be able to recognise the informal learning that prospective new members will have undertaken.

When the requirement for a career qualification as a prerequisite for professional membership was first introduced by CDANZ back in 2008, we proposed an alternative pathway for existing CDANZ professional members. We called this option of providing evidence of practice and learning a 'portfolio'. Those portfolios were then evaluated by our Kuia and Kaumatua against our career competencies to see if they did or didn't provide full equivalency for professional membership.

I think we still need that path: but I think we also need an appropriate framework to measure that portfolio against, guides for how to evidence that prior learning, and a process for the evaluation to take place within, so that our existing members who have already met the requirements understand that standards are not being lowered.

Because we don't start in careers. We end up here.

  • Reference:  Nevill, D. D.& Super, Donald E. (1986). The Salience Inventory: Theory, application and research. USA: Consulting Psychologists Press.


  1. Exactly Sam. To add; the pathways people take to this work help them to forge differing philosophies of practice relevant to diverse fields of practice. Because we don't have a Post graduate pathway in career studies anymore it makes sense that we create a framework that allows for a more open professional membership that offers aligned Post Graduate qualified applicants a portfolio application process that ensures they have the extra PD necessary and sufficient 'real life' experience for working in careers. It could even be very good for the industry!

  2. Thanks Kaye: a very good point indeed. Thanks so much for adding that: and we definitely need post-graduate choices to fit our unique context.

  3. Excellent article Sam, and it certainly reflects my pathway into the career counselling profession. I have often said (many disagree with me) that you are ideally suited to our profession after 45 years of age with at least 20 years workplace experience.

    1. Thanks Tony: your comment is much appreciated! I think you are right too that as we get older, we mature like very, very good wine :-)