The meaning of work for Black African immigrant adult college students

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Abstract

The purpose of this study is to explore the meaning of work for Black, sub-Saharan African immigrant adult students pursuing a 4-year college degree. Career development practitioners are in a unique position to help these students make significant life-career decisions. Seven students enrolled at an urban university located in the Midwest were interviewed. Emphasis was placed on sociocultural, historical, political, and other contextual factors that affected life-work choices. Work was viewed holistically as a combination of both paid and unpaid roles. Work narratives were collected and interpreted using Gadamerian hermeneutics grounded in a constructivism paradigm. An analysis of narrative approach was used. Three main findings emerged as themes: Meaning of work was shaped by contextual factors; work experiences were closely connected to family and community; and students' identities and work roles evolved over time. Theoretical implications and practical strategies for career counselors, with a focus on social justice, are discussed.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)50-75
Number of pages26
JournalJournal of Career Development
Volume39
Issue number1
DOIs
StatePublished - Feb 1 2012

Keywords

  • African immigrant
  • career counseling
  • career decision making
  • narrative
  • work

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