Career planning of Kaplan students at Kaplan International College
This study explored the career planning of Kaplan students at Kaplan International College. It investigated what kind of jobs these students are willing to do, discovered the Influence factor of career planning, and studied whether students have clear career planning. A questionnaire survey among 50 students is conducted. Results show that limited number of students have a clear career plan, and this situation is connected to their gender, age and major. They prefer to plan career based on personal interest and consider their personal potential and abilities. The preference of workplaces and types of occupations is also explored, which are different among students in diverse gender, age and major. Government office is most popular while private enterprise is the last choice in general. This study provides some useful insights for education and enterprises.
50 participants, including 20 male students and 30 female ones participated in the questionnaire survey and shared information about their career planning. The major demographic information about the responders are as follows. The distribution of age of 16-18, 23-25 and elder than 25 years old is similar, in proportion of 28% or 29%. The responder in age of 19-22 covers 16%. They come from different majors, of which most are in major of natural science such as physics, chemistry and biology, covering 33%. The least number of students are in major of social science (such as law, sociology, economics and management), covering 14%. In general, the majority of participants prefer to the work in the financial industry. The second most popular choice is the medical and computer industry. Female students prefer to work in medical industry, while financial industry and computer industry is preferred by male students. Among the five types of firms, the most popular type is government office, with proportion of 43%. Private enterprise is also the least popular one.
Majority (28%) of them have a plan for career, but the plan is not very clear with limited consideration. Only 24% of students have a very clear plan about their career, including a specific, short term, medium term and long term plan. The rest of them are not sure or have never think about it. Female students tend to have career plans than male students, whether the plan is very clear or not. In total, 66% of the female responders have thought about their career plan, while only half of male students have had the same. While for the age, the results show that students in age of 19-22 are more likely to have a career plan. Half of them in age of 16-18 and elder than 25 also have considered about career. However, only 33% of students in age of 23-25 have career plans. And yet, most of them believe that career planning have tremendous influence on their employment. According to the purpose of career planning, a highest proportion of participants, 37% of them believe that career planning aims to find a suitable job for themselves, and 28% think it as a way to identify goals in future. The rest of them only think it as a completion of the assignment by teacher.
For how to plan career, a majority of student take personal interest as the priority for decision, and the suggestion of others is also laid emphasis on. Limited number of student design their career based on prospect of employment. In the planning of career, the majority consider that knowing the potential should be most important. Knowing ability and personality is also important. The final two questions are open, and the major answers are as follows. When career planning meets difficulties, some want to seek for help from teachers or someone with experience, and some suggest that this is caused by the lack of experience, and thus to participate in some intern jobs could be helpful. Most of them feel full of confidence when they have made career plans. While they may also have the doubt about whether this career plan is suitable or whether they are able to achieve it in the future. However, a clear career planning help them to focus on what to do next.
Table preferences of workplace among students in different majors
A. natural science (physics, chemistry, biology, etc.)B. social sciences (law, sociology, economics, management, etc)C. humanities (philosophy, history, literature, linguistics, etc)D. art-sportsA. state owned or collective enterprise18%57%31%36%B. foreign enterprise82%29%31%29%C. private enterprise29%14%38%21%D. government office53%29%46%21%E. scientific research institution29%43%23%50%
This questionnaire survey investigated the kind of jobs these students are willing to do, and identified the factors and their influence on career planning. As mentioned above, female are in a weak position in the job market. While they are more likely to make career plans among the students in this study, which is a good thing. Consisting with Buddeberg et al (2003), gender plays an important role in career planning. Female students prefer to work in medical department. For the personality, it is speculated that it could be reflected by their major, as students in social and natural science will form different personality. And students in social related majors have the higher possibility to plan their careers. However, future studies are required to prove this conclusion.
Most of the students understand the importance of career planning, and they also have some conceptions about how to make career planning. For example, they know that career planning should be linked to personal potential, personal interests and their abilities. These understandings about career planning is rational. However, they still have some difficulties in developing a clear career plan. So the proportion for having clear career plan is limited. As discovered by Antoniu (2010), career planning is related with diverse factors, including self (one’s interests, talent, and values), work (organizational opportunities) and non-work (family, leisure interests). So in order to improve their career planning, they need more experience, better understanding about themselves and the environment, as well as guide of professional or experienced ones. Particularly, the recommendations of others could be helpful.
As a basic study, the questionnaire survey could fulfil the research objectives and answer questions comprehensively to a large extent. Most of the results are also consisting with my expectations or the results of previous literatures. However, there are still some results need future exploration. For example, whether major of students is linked to their career plan consideration is not fully understood. Students in age of 23-25 are of the least possibility to have their career plans, whether it is clear or not. It is possible that students in this age are mainly in the undergraduate stage. But whether the result is representative or caused by limited sample is not unknown.
Results show that most of students do not have a clear career plan, and this condition is also linked to gender, age and major characteristics. Major of social science and humanities are more likely to have a clear career plan, which may be caused by that reason that students in these majors prefer to make plans. Female students also like to make plans. Among the KICL students, government office and foreign enterprise are most popular. They want to make plans based on factors of personal interest and potential. The suggestions of others could be helpful for their consideration. These results provide some useful insights for the education of Kaplan students. For all of them, making a clear career plan is very important to improve competitiveness. However, the situation for current students is of irregularity conditions.
Through this study, the teachers and school administration would have a basic understanding about the career plan condition among their students, and thus make strategies to improve this. For example, they could help students to know better about their personal interests, personal ability and potentials, so they can better plan what to do in the future. The lack of practical experience is also an issue, which could be improved by providing more interning or related experiences. Students in different majors and genders, ages have different difficulties in career planning. Moreover, the results indicate that students in different major have diverse preference for workplace, types of firms and industries, which could help enterprise to better understand their potential employees among the KICL students. These findings are all of practical values to education, enterprise and personal development of students.
In addition, this study identified some useful findings academically consisting with the results of previous studies, such as influence of gender on career planning. Female students prefer medical industries. Some uncertainties, as mentioned above, could also be future studied as a starting point. The interesting finding is about the influence of age and major on career planning. There is not a certain pattern that, the elder age they are, the more likely that students will have a clear career plan. Reasons for this require future exploration.
A major limitation in this study is that, the samples are in a very wide region of characteristics, while the sample size is small. Their age range from 16 years old to elder than 25 years old, among whom they are in postgraduate, undergraduate or PhD stage. The major region is also wide. This makes the number of samples in each specific characteristics very small. The smaller the sample size is, the more possibility to lead to bias. For improvement, the sample could be limited to only postgraduate, or to students in social science area.
This study provides many useful experience for me. When determining the research question and the aims/ objectives, advice of my friends provide some help. We all have some problems in career plan, so we want to understand this situation in general. I want to collect as much information as possible, but the survey is limited. At first, I proposed six questions and several objectives, but the plan is not practical because it requires lots of data. The current survey is still in a wide region. The most useful experience is how to conduct a survey.
To make sure the samples are random selected is not easy. Students I know most are in same age and major, which is not suitable to represent the general students. So I went to the campus to collect responses. The questionnaire has 2 open questions. Most of the responders do not like to answer it, or they want to answer it in an oral way. So I need to write down for them. At last, responses to these 2 questions are not satisfying.
When writing the dissertation, I am a little confused about the differences between findings, discussions and conclusions. Findings should be descriptive about the results. Discussion should be analyzed based on results and theories or literatures. And conclusions could be a combination of each other. However, it is very likely to repeat in these three parts. Future improvement is still required to solve this confuse.