This study examined the specific career-related behaviors of career adaptability and occupational engagement among student veterans (N = 100). Contrary to expectations, findings showed statistically significant
negative correlations between career adaptability resources (control, concern, curiosity, and confidence) and occupational engagement. Multiple regression analyses indicated that the curiosity resource of career adaptability significantly predicted occupational engagement. The findings suggest a need to understand the complexity of career adaptability and occupational engagement in both research and practice for student veterans.
Keywords: career adaptability, occupational engagement, student veterans
College is a time for students to make decisions about their academic majors and careers, because they are presented with the time and resources to engage in exploratory career behaviors (Fouad, Ghosh, Chang, Figueirdo, & Bachhuber, 2016). Unfortunately, not much is known about the career development process of student veterans enrolled in institutions of higher education. Because there are over 1 million veterans who are using their education benefits with the passage of the Post-9/11 Veterans Educational Assistance Act of2008, also called the Post-9/11 GI Bill (U.S. Department ofVeterans Affairs, 2014), it is important to understand their exploratory and engagement behaviors that are integral to the career development process.
A systematic review of literature on student veterans published between 2000 and 2012 found that there has been an emphasis on understanding their psychological/mental health issues, combat exposure, and academic functioning and performance (Barry, Whiteman, & MacDermid Wadsworth, 2014). Notably, the career development process of student veterans, which can affect academic functioning and performance, has not been fully investigated. Therefore, the purpose of the present study was to examine the relationships between the four career adaptability resources (concern, control, curiosity, and confidence) and occupational engagement in addition to investigating if these adaptability resources predict occupational engagement.
Career adaptability is rooted in career construction theory and is defined as the "attitudes, competencies, and behaviors that individuals use in fitting themselves to work that suits them" (Savickas, 2005, p. 45). A central tenet of career adaptability is that individuals should be willing and ready to adapt to the changing world and the world of work around them (Savickas, 2005). Career adaptability comprises four resources (Savickas & Porfeli, 2012): concern (preparing for future career tasks), control (taking responsibility for development), curiosity (exploring future selves and opportunities), and confidence (believing in one's own ability to succeed).
In their meta-analysis of career adaptability, Rudolph, Lavigne, and Zacher (2017) proposed a conceptual framework in which career adaptability could be related to adapting responses (e.g., career planning, career exploration) and adaptation results (e.g., engagement, job satisfaction). However, the relationship between career adaptability and occupational engagement, which can be the result of adaptation, has not been investigated. Ghosh and Fouad (2016) examined factors that predicted the career transitions of student veterans, specifically investigating career adaptability and occupational engagement. Their findings suggested that career adaptability and occupational engagement predicted the readiness aspect of career transitions for student veterans (Ghosh & Fouad, 2016).
Occupational engagement is the behavioral component of the trilateral model of adaptive decision making that also involves intuition and reason (Krieshok, Black, & McKay, 2009). Occupational engagement highlights the need for individuals to continuously explore themselves, their work-related experiences, and the world of work (Bubany, Krieshok, Black, & McKay, 2008). Engaging in these specific behaviors helps college students in general, and student veterans in particular, better understand themselves, the world of work, and the relationship between themselves and the world of work (Krieshok et al., 2009).
Kim and Cole's (2013) executive summary using data from the 2012 National Survey of Student Engagement found that student veterans are less likely...