Friday, 11 August 2017

Where do career practitioners come from?

Having spent well over 20 years in the career development field in New Zealand, and having taken part in the first ever survey of members of the Career Development Association of New Zealand (CDANZ) in 2012, I think I see some common practitioner experiences. 

Bennet suggests that all research should be “a systematic, careful inquiry or examination to discover new information or relationships and to expand/verify existing knowledge for some specified purpose” 1991, p. 68. While I have not explored these emergent patterns systematically and carefully, I suspect there is a common background amongst those of us who have arrived in the careers field. I suspect that we are generalists who have tried a LOT of things. We have had many jobs, changed roles regularly, been adaptable, and had a crack at most things. We have been the go-to people in our organisations to ask about making change.

Somewhere along the way, that broad range of skills we have developed to help ourselves, and having been go-to people for how to tackle something new, has let us help others. We are usually older: we come to career development later in life. And lo! We arrive, embryonic career practitioners! Then of course we have to learn the theory and the structures that allow us to become experienced professionals.

Of course, being members of a common professional organisation (CDANZ), has encouraged all us to up-skill, to learn more about the underpinning theories in our field, and to continue to expand our horizons. It also means that the skills we bring from our original fields cross-pollinates what we do, and the theory, tools and ideas which can be used in the careers field are many and varied.

As I said
, this is a suspicion of mine, driven by the data from the CDANZ survey of career practitioners. The respondents were often people whom, when I have talked with them, have a very broad range of work experiences; have a large dollop of seeking self-improvement and the drive to take action paired with that; and helpers.

I would be very interested to hear what others in the field think.

  • Reference: Bennett, R. (1991) What is Management Research? in N. Smith & P. Dainty (Eds) The Management Research Handbook. UK: Routledge.

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