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When do university students and graduates know what careers they want: A research-derived framework
Journal of Teaching and Learning for Graduate Employability (2017)
  • Prof Shelley Kinash, University of Southern Queensland
  • Linda Crane, Bond University
  • John Capper
  • Mark Young
  • Ashley Stark
This paper reports on research which was conducted to explore how university students and
those who had graduated and been subsequently employed, made career decisions.
Specifically, through interviews and focus group discussions with 22 university students and
28 graduates from Australian undergraduate and postgraduate courses in a variety of
disciplines, four questions were explored: Do university students know their own desired postcourse
employment, or in other words, what they want to be after graduation; if so, at what
point in their student experience do they come to this decision; what elements come into play
in university student career decision-making; and to what extent do students and graduates
feel that their career decision-making is supported by their universities? Research was
grounded in, and results aligned with, the ‘chaos theory of careers.’ The main findings were
that at the enrolment-stage of university and during their studies, most students were
pessimistic about their career outcomes and felt largely unsupported in identifying suitable
career goals. However, the outcomes after graduation were unexpectedly positive in that, by
this point most had identified career goals and were in careers they had desired. Most of the
research participants who had been in their careers for an extended length of time were casual
academics who were dissatisfied with their career progression and status. Although they had
identified academic career goals and secured employment in their chosen industry, they were
disappointed by continuous short-term contracts and what they perceived as poor career
supports extended by their university employers. A ‘university student and graduate careerknowledge
framework’ was derived. The key takeaway from this research was a set of
recommendations for universities regarding how to better support students to make career
  • graduate employability,
  • career development,
  • transition,
  • higher education,
  • students,
  • graduates,
  • career choice
Publication Date
Fall April 12, 2017
Citation Information
Kinash, S., Crane, L., Capper, J., Young, M., & Stark, A. (2017). When do university students and graduates know what careers they want: A research-derived framework. Journal of Teaching and Learning for Graduate Employability, 8(1), 3– 21.