Career Meaning

“Choose a job you love, and you will never have to work a day in your life” (attributed to Confucius). For decades, individuals have been encouraged to follow their bliss, pursue their dreams, and find work they love because there is a positive connection between meaningful work and improved wellness. The research studies described here have focused on the importance of career meaning on individual well-being, what drives people to certain careers, and why they stay.

Enhancing Education, University, Industry Collaborations to Support Regional College and Career Readiness

spirit mag ccr RachelBThis study is part of a collaboration between the Bowling Green Area Chamber of Commerce, local school district, and my research team. It was developed to to assess and assist in developing innovative practices to strengthen student college and career readiness in our regional high schools including but not limited to the Chamber of Commerce plan to introduce career academies into local schools; informing stakeholders (i.e., school staff, business partners) in best practices for workforce development; and developing an advanced degree program to train teachers, school counselors, and school administrators in CCR initiatives within the regional high schools.

The research was conducted by Cheryl Wolf and Rachel Bauer (graduate assistant) and was presented during Kentucky Counseling Association conference in Louisville, KY (November 2017)

Grant Funded: Wolf, C. P. & Duba Sauerheber, J. (Feb 2015). Enhancing Education, University, Industry Collaborations to Support Regional College and Career Readiness. WKU Research and Creative Activities Program (RCAP; $16,000).

Exploring Counseling Work Settings, Values, and Job Satisfaction

lexie cheryl posterThis mixed-methods study explored mental health counseling settings from small private practices to large inpatient agencies or hospitals and how counselors' current jobs aligns with their values, impacts their satisfaction, and potentially leads to burnout.

The research was conducted by Cheryl Wolf and Lexie Sheucraft (graduate assistant) and was presented during Kentucky Counseling Association conference in Louisville, KY (November 2015) and the WKU REACH Week event (April 2015).

Negotiating the Academic Job Offer

This mixed-methods study examined the experiences of negotiating academic salary and benefits.

The research was conducted by Cheryl Pence Wolf and presented during the Association for Counselor Education and Supervision conference in Philadelphia, PA (October 2015) and the Southern Association for Counselor Education and Supervision conferences in Birmingham, AL (October 2014) and New Orleans, LA (October 2016).

Exploring the Factors Underlying Career Meaning including Values, Satisfaction, and Wellness

With Dr. Harry Daniels at Ph.D. Graduation 2013This research was focused on the effects of career meaning on professional and personal lives. Career meaning describes an experience with a career that provides meaningful, satisfying, and challenging work that contributes to an overall balanced lifestyle and is aligned with one's values. It extends beyond the pleasurable aspects of hedonic well-being and integrates more fulfilling and self-actualizing life experiences inherent in eudaimonic well-being. As significant relationships between career meaning, values, satisfaction, and wellness emerged in the research literature, it became important to investigate these further.

Conducting this research with a sample of nearly 700 U.S. Naval Academy graduates from the graduating classes of 1985 through 2010, I reviewed the theoretical perspectives related to career meaning including career development, meaning, values, satisfaction, and wellness; explored the current literature and empirical studies related to career meaning; empirically examined factors underlying career meaning utilizing an exploratory factor analysis; proposed an empirical definition of career meaning that distinguished it from other related concepts; and investigated the age, gender, cultural, and environmental elements that may also be associated with career meaning.

This research was completed for dissertation requirements in completion of a Ph.D. in Counselor Education at the University of Florida. The research is conducted by Cheryl Pence Wolf; the dissertation committee included Dr. M. Harry Daniels (Chair), Dr. Ana Puig, Dr. Walter Leite, and Dr. Tom Kerkoff. This research was supported through a 2012 Chi Sigma Iota Research Grant and it was presented at the Global Career Development Conference in Chicago, Illinois (June 2016).

Grant funded: Wolf, C. P. (2012, November 24). Factors of career meaning: An analysis of U.S. Naval Academy graduates. 2012 Chi Sigma Iota Research Grant ($400).

Money versus Meaning

Aligning a person's values with their work is of particular interest. I have seen people focusing on careers where they can make a lot of money or something others encouraged them to pursue, however their personal values conflict with those goals. This research looks a what influences affect a person's career decision and how they can find the appropriate balance betten money and meaning.

The research was conducted by Cheryl Pence Wolf and was presented during Florida Counseling Association conference in Daytona Beach (November 2007) and the Chi Sigma Iota Beta chapter conference in Gainesville, Florida (April 2008).

Counselor Satisfaction & Retention

The field of counseling can be demanding, so understanding what keeps counselors in the field is important. Job satisfaction has been highly correlated to retention, so I focused on what helps counselors remain satisfied in their careers, especially as it pertains to their own wellness.

The research was conducted by Cheryl Pence Wolf and was presented during two roundtable discussions at the Southern Association for Counselor Education and Supervision conference in Houston (October 2008) and the Florida Counseling Association conference in Daytona Beach (November 2008).

 

View the presentations page for more details on the research studies above.