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Dissertation/Thesis Abstract

"Citizens of the Future"?: Exploring the Career Decision Making Process for College-Aged Third Culture Kids
by Wilcox, Kelly P., Ed.D., University of Pennsylvania, 2017, 169; 10622390
Abstract (Summary)

This study examines the career decision-making process for college-aged Third Culture Kids at an elite university in an urban setting in the United States. This qualitative study engaged students (sophomores, juniors and seniors) and recent graduates from a range of passport cultures (U.S and non-U.S.) in individual semi-structured interviews designed to gain an understanding of their college majors, career goals and professional aspirations, the activities they pursued in order to advance their career goals, and the influence of the Third Culture Kid experience on career planning and professional competencies.

Third Culture Kids, by definition, spend time during their formative years in a passport culture other than their own due to an overseas job placement for one or more parent. They may exist on campus as “hidden immigrants”, looking like many of their peers, but thinking differently due to their globally mobile upbringing. As a cohort they can be hard to identify, which may render it difficult for college support personnel to understand their strengths and challenges, and advise them accordingly.

Third Culture Kids have been identified in the literature as potential candidates to fill the growing need for culturally competent and adept professionals in an increasingly global workforce. TCKs may possess valuable traits conducive to success in a global workforce, but ultimately it is up to the individual to decide how to identify and apply the skills and competencies gained through cross-cultural experiences in their chosen career paths.

Findings suggest that participants are open to global placements in their future careers, seek flexibility in their professional fields, value the Third Culture Kid experience, and the perceived benefits and professional competencies that were influenced by this experience. Participants navigated visa considerations, turned to their peers and family members for advice, and accessed university sponsored resources in navigating career related decisions.

This study fills an existing gap in the literature, as little attention has been paid to the career decision-making processes for college-aged Third Culture Kids and gives voice to a population that is being presented as a potential solution to emerging global workforce needs. Participant findings provide insights into practices and policies that can be implemented by campus administrators and possibilities for future research.

Indexing (document details)
Advisor: Perna, Laura
Commitee: Harper, Shaun, Stanley, Jeanne
School: University of Pennsylvania
Department: Higher Education Management
School Location: United States -- Pennsylvania
Source: DAI-A 79/05(E), Dissertation Abstracts International
Subjects: Multicultural Education, Higher education
Keywords: Career decision making process, College-aged Third Culture Kids
Publication Number: 10622390
ISBN: 978-0-355-58827-9
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