Famed scholar Mark Savickas to speak at NIU on achieving 21st century career satisfaction

Mark Savickas

Mark Savickas

With the economic downturns and the advent of new technologies, people can no longer make a decision about their career in early adulthood and plan to stick with it over multiple decades until retirement forces them to leave the working world.

Indeed, with economic changes that lead to cut-backs, technological advances that change the needs of employment skill sets, and the reality of outsourcing due to globalization, it is now projected that adults will have 10 major job changes in their lifetime. To face what some might see as set-backs, career counselors and workers can no longer see the constructs of career navigation and career satisfaction through the same lens as they did even 10 years ago.

Or so says Mark L. Savickas, a preeminent scholar in career theory and vocational behavior whose ideas are changing the face of career counseling, school psychology, and assessment.

Savickas will visit NIU at 7 p.m. Monday, April 15, to speak at a graduate colloquium hosted by the Department of Counseling, Adult and Higher Education. The colloquium is sponsored by the NIU Counseling Association and Chi Sigma Iota, student organizations based in the department.

The colloquium, which takes place in the Regency Ballroom at the Holmes Student Center, is free and open to all.

Savickas’ presentation, “From Scores to Stories: The Narrative Turn in Counseling,” will outline his ideas about how people can look at their career paths as journeys with inevitable trials and triumphs and how set backs can be used to fuel new episodes of growth and success.

Logos of the NIU Counseling Association and Chi Sigma IotaThe talk promises to include useful information for those in counseling, psychology, business, human resources, and academic advising, as well as providing a unique framework with which the general public can reflect on their career choices and shape their futures.

“To help people built their careers in a digital age, we must listen to their stories about their behaviors as actors, strivings as agents, and explanations as authors. In today’s world, individuals must make a self before they make a career,” Savickas says. “That is why their stories about self-construction are so important in guiding their lives. Career counselors’ interest in students’ narratives comes from the belief that we must learn from their own chief life officer the strategies that they will employ.”

Lee Covington Rush, an assistant professor of counseling at NIU, coordinator of the graduate Career Counseling Certificate and supervisor of the undergraduate Career Exploration Program, says that “the world of work has changed so rapidly in the last decade, often people find themselves disheartened in attempting to assess their career trajectories by the methods that their parents used.”

Lee Covington Rush

Lee Covington Rush

“Dr. Savickas is changing the way we gauge career satisfaction. His ideas tell us that careers in the modern age will have natural peaks and valleys, and during difficult times we can learn important lessons, gain momentum, and make plans in ways that are meaningful to our overall lives in the context of our career development,” Rush said. “Specifically, Dr. Savickas will articulate a paradigm shift with his theory of career construction for this new century.”

NIU counseling student Amanda Benney has been a student of Savickas’ work since she first encountered his famed career-style interview in her career counseling class in the fall of 2011.

Savickas “has played a pivotal role in the development of my counselor-identity and perspective on how people change. Specifically, he has provided a tool for me to witness the power of childhood preoccupations on the development of meaning creation and career design,” she says. “I encourage anyone who is interested in career development to come witness how the personal and professional can intersect in a way that ignites passion and purpose.”

For more information, email elisa.woodruff@gmail.com.

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