Influences on career decisions of international students attending community colleges in the United States
Jachowicz, Patricia L.
MetadataShow full item record
The present qualitative study investigated influences on the career decisions of international students attending American community colleges. Through semistructured interviews, 19 international students representing five global regions described how they made decisions related to their academic study and career goals. Content analysis of the interview transcripts was conducted using the constant comparative method. Influences on career decisions centered on five themes: (a) family and culture, (b) educational experiences, (c) issues unique to international students, (d) work-related experiences, and (e) intrapersonal skills. Parents and extended family had the most influence through their approval, encouragement, and role modeling. In regard to educational experiences, participants reported that course selection, quality of instruction, and extracurricular activities at their community colleges expanded their career options. International students face unique issues that can have a significant effect on their career plans, including exceptional academic challenges, immigration issues, and financial strain. The influence of work-related experiences on career decisions varied depending on participants’ work history, campus job opportunity, and volunteer service. Intrapersonal factors such as selfefficacy, response to critical events, and decision making impacted participants’ career plans. Participants asserted that remaining in the United States, returning to their home country, or residing in another country to work would be determined by im migration status, family obligations, and job outlook at these destinations. All participants expressed a desire to launch their careers in the United States. The majority of participants were undecided about their career goals during their first year of study at a community college. Participants identified three types of resources they used at their community college to help in their career decision making. They were academic resources, computer technology, and counseling services. Academic resources were used (instructors, library materials, and campus activities) to complement occupational information found on the Internet. Utilization of counseling was nominal, with varied levels of satisfaction. Participants recommended that academic and career counselors should be more knowledgeable about cultural differences, especially with regard to family influence on career choice. They also expressed a need for work opportunity, scholarships, and timely information about services at community colleges that could help them in their career planning.