Electronic Theses and Dissertations


Rewriting the Question, What Do You Want to Be When You Grow Up? Career Counseling With 21st Century Emerging Adults

Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Ph.D. in Education

First Advisor

Lori A. Wolff

Second Advisor

Ann Monroe

Third Advisor

Susan McClelland


Adults ask children constantly, "what do you want to be when you grow up?", leading children to focus on an uncertain future as an adult. From very early in life, children attempt to parlay their likes and desires into a career choice. However, as children grow into adolescence, they begin to realize vocation is not as easy as simply making a choice. The years spent in college are usually a more serious time for committing to plans regarding the future and are when many degree-seeking emerging adults face challenges in gaining a concrete sense of direction toward a future career. Complicating this process is that many college students are still trying to determine their identity. In the face of a shifting work paradigm, university career professionals must be innovative and creative in providing career counseling interventions. The Career Story Interview (CSI) is a subjective career counseling technique that responds to both the call for innovation and the increasing changing world of work. Yet how do career counseling practitioners know the CSI is a valid intervention? Only one empirical study exists for the CSI. The purpose of this mixed-methods study was to assess the validity of the CSI for use in career development counseling with degree-seeking emerging adults (N = 83) from a midsize southern university. Using a Pearson's r correlation, comparisons were made between the 3-letter RIASEC Strong Interest Inventory (SII) theme code and RIASEC theme codes derived from coding the CSI written narratives of the participants. Results indicated overall moderate correlation between the CSI and SII participant results.

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