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dc.contributor.advisorRusso, Tracy
dc.contributor.authorHelens-Hart, Rose
dc.description.abstractSince the 1980s there has been a notable trend of university career centers (UCCs) transforming from job-placement centers into full-service centers that include career coaching, counseling, and job search activities such as mock interviews, resume writing, and career fairs ("Best practices in career services for graduating students," 2012; Garver, Spralls, & Divine, 2009). This shift has accompanied what has been referred to as the “death” of the organizational career where individuals can no longer expect their careers to unfold in a single organization over their lifetimes (Arthur & Rousseau, 1996). Rather, individuals are urged to prepare themselves for multi-directional careers marked by frequent job and industry changes and even bouts of unemployment (Baruch, 2004). Coupled with mounting external stakeholder pressure for universities to assume greater responsibility for graduates obtaining employment, the need for universities to educate students in job search skills and engage them in career planning is more important than ever ("FACT SHEET on the President's plan to make college more affordable: A better bargain for the middle class," 2013; "Half of recent college grades underemployed or jobless, analysis says," April 23, 2012). Thankfully most colleges and universities have staff dedicated to providing career planning and job search assistance in on-campus UCCs. This dissertation explores the communication of a UCC’s organizational members in a large mid-western public university. Specifically, I take a communicative look at how career planning was discursively constructed as the empowered pursuit of employability. Toward this end, discourse was focused on how services could increase the likelihood that graduates would obtain employment and be prepared to search and apply for jobs throughout their careers. The career coaching model used in the UCC was intended to center and empower students in the career planning process. This discourse served as a response to demands for increased university accountability toward students seeking post-graduate employment but also recognized that ultimately it was the responsibility of students to develop their employability. A critical examination of employability reveals this to be a paradox of accountability where the promotion of student employability provides universities with the opportunity to distance themselves from the responsibility for students obtaining jobs after graduation. It emphasizes a “no guarantees” employment culture (Hallier, 2009) and encourages students to accept the responsibility of managing their own futures by developing career identities, personal adaptability, and human and social capital (Fugate, Kinicki, & Ashforth, 2003). Advising students in effective career planning is a complex matter where multiple facets of students’ lives and identities intersect to create individualized conceptions of success, career, and the role of work in their lives. The career coaching model utilized by the center in this study requires practitioners to employ discursive strategies to promote student motivation and confidence (Orem, Binkert, & Clancy, 2007). Informed by literature on the concepts of socialization, meaningful work, employability, empowerment, and the appreciative coaching model, this study provides an understanding of how organizational members of a UCC promote employability through discursively engaging students’ preconceived notions of work and need, assisting them in preparing for their vocational futures, and constructing action plans to help them advance toward established goals. Interviews with staff of the UCC, participant observations of UCC events, and a textual analysis of the UCC’s website and related career documents and artifacts were used to examine the conceptualization of career and the employability value of career planning.
dc.format.extent161 pages
dc.publisherUniversity of Kansas
dc.rightsCopyright held by the author.
dc.subjectCounseling psychology
dc.subjectVocational education
dc.subjectCareer coaching
dc.subjectCareer planning
dc.subjectMeaningful Work
dc.titleEmployability and Empowerment: Discursive Constructions of Career Planning
dc.contributor.cmtememberBanwart, Mary
dc.contributor.cmtememberInnocenti, Beth
dc.contributor.cmtememberFord, Debra
dc.contributor.cmtememberGibson, Jane
dc.thesis.degreeDisciplineCommunication Studies

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