Survey of Orange County Students Reveals their Thoughts on Making Career Choices

Wednesday, September 11, 2019

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A non-scientific survey conducted in May 2019 by a Special Sessions Task Force of the Greater Irvine Chamber’s Business and Workforce Development Committeereveals what factors influence Orange County students when considering career choices.

Respondents of the survey totaled 653 high school students from five Orange County school districts, with a quarter coming fromIrvine Unified School District. Career specialists from Coastline Regional Occupational Program located on the campuses selected students randomly with efforts made to recruit a balance of ethnicity, gender, socio-economic status, and academic achievement. The survey was distributed and accessible using a QR code displayed on cell phones and tablet devices.

Following is a summary of response data from questions posed in the survey.

Who or what are the influencers of career choices?

The human factor is clearly important to students. By far, parents (74.3%) are the primary influencers followed by people who work in the career of interest (46.5%), friends (42.6%), teachers (35.4%), and other family members (33.5%). Social Media (30.3%) and TV (18.6%) come in sixth and seventh, while other school staff, counseling staff (12.8%) and career center staff (9.8%), come in eighth and ninth.

Where do students find information about possible careers?

Again, the human factor is vital as people who work in the industry (52.8%), potentially career speakers, and parents (47.8%) provide the greatest amount of information to students. Social media rises to third (46.1%) followed closely by teachers (45.4%). The internet is helpful to students (36.1%) while other family members (29.3%), career center staff (24.5%), and counseling staff (21.3%) close out the list. It is interesting to note that while social media, career center staff, and counseling staff are not significant influencers of student choices, they are, however, sources of information.

Do students want to live and work in Orange County?

A majority of the respondents (52.2%) say that their career choice is in Orange County and they want to live here, while 32.3% want to move out of the area. Less than a quarter of respondents (23.5%) indicate they think it’s too expensive to live in Orange County, while 12.1% say that their chosen career will require them to relocate.

What gets in the way of making a career choice?

Slightly more than half of the respondents (51.8%) indicate they are still searching for information, while others (40.9%) are confident they can reach their goals. A third (33.5%) don’t know what they want to do for a career, while 11.5% say that they want to do something other than what their parents want.

What is the best way for students to get career information?

Not surprisingly, a majority (59.8%) of the respondents say they first utilize the internet to gather information. Secondly, 46.1% of the students who responded say they want to connect with people from their fields of interest, in the way of career speakers, followed by a major job information website (45.5%). Career fairs are of interest (36.8%), with printed materials coming in last (29%).

Do students complete career assessments?

Less than half the respondents (43%) say they have never completed a career assessment, while the rest have completed one in class (33.4%), in a career center (21.4%), or online independently (14.1%).

In conclusion, personal interaction remains a powerful way to connect with students in their career development, whether through their parents and family, people in the careers of interest, or school staff. Students acquire career information from many sources, including online and personal interaction. Many students are still determining their career choices and need additional information, perhaps including career assessments. Students are very interested in staying in Orange County, but think the cost of living may be prohibitive.

Survey summary was provided by Special Sessions Task Force co-chairs J. S. Coke, of Coastline Regional Occupation Program, and Kathy Johnson, of Vital Link.

For more information about the work of the Greater Irvine Chamber’s Business and Workforce Development Committee and how to become involved, contact Pepper Russell.

Category: Workforce Development, Economic Development