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October 12, 2018

“I would like to start thinking about my future career but don’t know where to start”: Exploring hesitation to help make career planning manageable for students





This session will focus on the findings of a small qualitative research project funded by both SHU Humanities department, and the Higher Education Careers Services Unit (HECSU). It was conducted by the Careers and Employability Service, SHU Humanities department, and a Student Researcher.A short internal questionnaire designed by the Careers and Employability Service was completed by 3142 undergraduate first year students in October 2017. On a multiple choice question about career planning nearly 30% of respondents stated that ‘I would like to start thinking about my future career but don’t know where to start’. The research focused on Humanities, PSP and Law and Criminology that chose this response and explored

  1. students’ perceptions/understanding of what career planning involves
  2. views on the language and discourse surrounding career planning and employability
  3. students’ awareness of how to explore options/opportunities, and challenges they face/confidence levels in doing so.

This session will briefly set the context of the research and highlight key findings. It aims to trigger questions and ideas about how to better meet the needs of these students who feel less equipped to engage with career planning.

It relates to recent scholarly research about:

  1. Human Capital theory and contemporary career theory such as a graduate capital model; which recognises the need for students to begin the process of employability development and emerging career formation fairly early (Tomlinson,M.; McCafferty, H.; Fuge, H.; and Wood, K., 2017)
  2. Findings from the Department of Education ‘Planning for Success’ survey, which examined student outcomes and career planning strategies (IFF Research/Department of Education, 2017)
  3. The importance of planning and nuances of student communications in the development of student resilience (McIntosh, E. and Shaw, J., 2017)
Strand Student Outcomes
Type Ignite and Poster
Learning objective(s)
  1. Participants will gain an understanding of why some first year Sheffield Hallam University Humanities, PSP and Law&Criminology students don’t know how to start career planning despite wanting to
  2. ignite reflection on how this relates to the audience’s professional practice
  3. ignite reflection on how this can be addressed in employability/careers related curriculum; academic advising; pastoral support and careers and employability information/resources