Throughout the process of career selection, there is a subtle process that everyone passes through that is hardly noticeable. This Model for Career Choice classifies career selection into six stages, namely – idea conceptualization, consultation, selection (choice), career development, career adjustment and career sustainability – with all stages being significant to the overall success of the final choice. A conceptual framework was also drawn up to explain the relatedness of the various stages and subsequent suggestions to guide persons in this stage of their lives and counsellors/educators needing information for their job fulfillment.
Keywords: Career, Career Choice, Career Development, Career Adjustment.


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Michael Jules
Vocational/Business Educator


From the time of identification of one’s career path till retirement, there are stages through which a person goes through. These stages have to do with the formulation of opinions, ideas and knowledge about various related careers, the selection of a particular career based on previous knowledge on them, the adoption of such a career, the sustenance and completion of such path. Without putting these stages into perspective and studying them adequately, persons who already chose a career are likely to engage in career readjustments later in life. This paper therefore, outlines a working model through which persons can actually study a prospective career and go through it without later regrets.

What is a Career?

Career has been variously defined by different authors in line with how such authors perceive career to be. Mckay (2014) was of the view that a career is an individual’s vocation or trade or how he or she makes a living. For Okpara (2009), a career is a sequence of occupation, jobs engaged in or occupied throughout the lifetime of the person. Okpara mentioned above tend to encapsulate the very essence of the term career. This is because his definition cited “lifetime”, which is the underlying impression the concept gives. In line with the above, a career is defined in this paper as a lifelong endeavour of an individual especially in a particular field. This is to say within the educational field, one can be an academic staff, non-academic staff, a lecturer, a Vice Chancellor, etc. All these put together constitute the career of an individual.

Stages in Career

As elucidated above, there are several aspects in a career. First, students need an awareness of the career to be chosen. It is after such awareness that students can actually formulate opinion about their subsequent choice(s). Below is a model for career choice which will guide students towards choosing a career:

  1. Idea Conceptualization: This is at least one of the informal and involuntary stage of the model. When knowledge about a career is being gained, there are usually no records kept regarding how much knowledge has been gained about a career. Students gained this knowledge through classroom work, media contact like watching movies, playing games, chats with colleagues amongst other societal engagements. Over time, career seekers realized they already have awareness about what they really needed to be in life. Jean Piaget’s 1967 Constructivism theory of learning aptly explains the occurrence of idea formulation in this model. According to Piaget, constructivism is a theory of knowledge that asserts that humans generate knowledge and meaning from an interaction between their experiences and their ideas. This idea formulation becomes the basis upon which choices are made. All of this occurs from childhood till the earlier part of their Senior Secondary School (SSS) life.
  2. Consultation: This is the dependent stage of career selection. Although many students may know what they actually want, many may seek further assistance in an attempt to know more about their future endeavour. They want to be very sure so as to make no mistakes. Through consultation, they meet their parents, peers, colleagues, stakeholders and others ahead of them in the same field they are looking forward to. These persons are what Michael (2018) referred to as “trustees”. That once the student sees these persons as capable enough to depend on, they will actually seek for their help for career guidance. Consultation takes place through asking of questions and answers from these trustees and it is mostly done informally rather than in a formal career counselling setting. This consultation stage usually occur prior to selection time and this is usually the late part of Senior Secondary School (SSS) when they are about to exit secondary school.
  3. Selection (Choice): This is the actual choice itself. After much acquisition of knowledge… believing they already have the needed information they need, students shoot directly at what they want. They do this either through their selection of Arts/Science class in their senior secondary schools or through their programmes selection during the Joint Admission and Matriculation Board (JAMB) examination. During this time, students are faced with such choice and making this choice is very crucial at this stage. This selection can also extend to the initial part of their university life. During this stage, many students whom had hitherto chosen a programme of study may have problems later because of qualifications and they may be faced with further choice to enable their school transfer them to other related and less demanding programmes. This stage is very crucial in this model and it holds the key to the success of any chosen career.
  4. Career Development: One of the basic things freshmen in the university soon learn is career development. It is not usually about the choice alone but about an individual’s life in general, hence, career development is very central. Students develop their career by studying hard to learn the nitty-gritty of their career and graduating with good grades. They also develop their career by engaging in career programmes that build up their worth in their chosen fields. It also greatly contributes to their knowledge as knowledge gains have significant effect on job performance in the workplace. Career development is an indispenaible characteristic of career. Without development, promotion in some fields is very difficult.
  5. Career Adjustment: Career adjustment simply refers to a situation where a career bearer decide to shift either from one field to another or from a subfield to another. The above indicates that shifting from Medicine to Agriculture refers to adjusting to different fields while from medicine to nursing is a subfield adjustment. Some persons may later have inclinations towards a different career after choosing a programme of study and attaining university education in such field. This is very possible because when many students chose their programmes of study, not every needed information were available at the time. Some came to the university environment to find out that what they earlier knew were merely based on rose-coloured views. For instance, some students who studied human anatomy later came back to university to study another programme because the human anatomy they once thought was a pure medical programme was actually not the same thing again. The university environment opens up a wide array of opportunities for students. It also gives them opportunity to numerous information that would later change their views about life. At stage 2 above, not all of the students conducted a very good consultation from available information sources, hence, after getting adequate information from the university, career adjustments became inevitable. This is why you see some professionals having pure accounting in their first degree but having accounting education in their second and maybe doctoral degree. Umoru (2019) aptly captures the above when he named this occurrence as “interlopers”. Interlopers in Umoru refer to those who have various certifications at various level as a result of career adjustments.
  6. Career Sustainability: Since the dream of everyone from the beginning is to continue with what they actually chose in their first degree, career sustainability in this context would refer to the ability to follow up a career from the very beginning to retirement. This is to say the student who wanted to become a medical doctor was able to choose medicine and surgery in his/her first degree, graduate, engage in his/her further studies, gainfully employed as a medical doctor, develop his/her career and work till retirement as a medical doctor. Sustaining a career can be difficult if the groundwork and foundation during the consultation and selection stages were not well laid. Sustainability is very crucial to career and tell how qualitative a career holder is.

Conceptual Review

Figure 1: Michael Jules’ model for career choice
Source: Data Survey, 2019

Further Discussion

In cognizance of the dynamics of career selection, a lot of issues have emerged during the last century. Parents, while perceiving students are unable to make proper choices, have taken it upon themselves to act as counsellors for their wards; this time however, becoming more or less forceful counsellors as whatever they chose is what is taken. From another perspective, students too have become overwhelmingly dependent on society to actually make their choices. This intrusion of societal members in the career selection process has greatly influenced the outcome of the process. It is of great importance that society builds students to learn to choose for themselves than allow imposition as this may lead to career adjustment later in life.


From idea conceptualization to consultation, selection (choice), career development, career adjustment down to career sustainability, all stages in the career selection process play a major role in the development of the bearer. It is implied here that whatever happens at the bottom line of the process have great significance and possible consequences on the life of the bearer.


Career selection has never been an easy task. This is basically because of the dynamics in life which may alter decisions which students must have taken. Therefore, a proper insight into chosen career is highly needed if students must succeed. While not being expected to impose programmes of study on their wards, parents as primary caregivers must do all they can to properly guide their wards in the right direction.


The above discussion has necessitated the following suggestions:

  1. Students at their pre-selection stage must be open to knowledge from all fields of study. Nothing should be restricted from them. This is because it is from these pools of knowledge that they formulate ideas from which their selection is made possible.
  2. When making inquiries, societal participants must learn to be attentive. When students ask older members of their families or peers questions, it is always in a bid to help formulate their choice. Hence, adequate and correct information must be passed else, choice may be distorted.
  3. The process of making a choice, despite there is the need for guidance, requires personal intent to actually select. Imposition of any sort, especially if erroneously conducted may negatively influence performance in such career.
  4. Persons who are already in a career should not relapse after their first degree. There is an overwhelming need for career development. Remaining stagnant in an endeavour may hinder promotion.
  5. At a point, if already made choice no longer looks meaningful to a bearer and feels the need to adjust his/her career, such new decision must be taken with the understanding that the new decision will not be readjusted. This is because continuous readjustment may lead to career instability.
  6. During working age, the need to remain in one’s field of study is very imperative. These days, due to unemployment, interloping may arise. Nevertheless, an attempt to work in line with one’s profession will be very profitable.


Mckay, H. (2014). Narrative theory: A career counselling approach for adolescents of divorce. Professional school counselling, 12(3), 223-241

Michael, O. J. (2018). Theory of career choice dependence: a prime approach. Retrieved October 16th, 2019 from http://admissionsandutme.com/2018/03/26/theory-of-career-choice-dependence-a-prime-approach/

Okpara, U. (2009). Family structure, parental practices, and high school completion. American sociological review, 56(3), 309-320

Umoru, T. A. (2019). Plotting pathways across transformational changes in business education: A desideratum for empowering learners to engage in the world. Conference proceedings; Association of Business Educators of Nigeria, 6(1), 1-16

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