Summer Youth Work Programs: An Evaluation and Examination of Variables Contributing to Adolescent Career Development
Wenner, Jennifer Rose
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Summer Youth Work Programs An Evaluation and Examination of Variables Contributing to Adolescent Career Development.pdf (852.8Kb)
Adolescence is crucial for career development, as youth begin to engage in activities to prepare for their careers. However, at-risk and rural youth may face barriers to developing useful career traits like career adaptability and work hope. One barrier is insufficient parental support. Parental support is associated with the development of skills and characteristics that promote career success (Keller & Whiston, 2008). However, certain personal and social variables, including grit and mentoring relationships, may help youth succeed despite inadequate parental support. Additionally, programs that engage at-risk youth in work-related tasks and experiences may help youth develop positive career trajectories. Therefore, youth work programs must be evaluated, given their potential to impact career development. The research involved 106 youth ages 14-23 who participated in summer work-training programs. Participants took a pretest, posttest, and 3-month follow-up to examine change in program goals over time, and identify relationships and personal characteristics that can help youth develop career adaptability and work hope. Study one examined outcomes consistent with program goals to assess program effectiveness. Linear regression analyses showed that worksite performance only increased for those who had previously worked, such that those with more previous work experience had greater improvement in worksite performance. Multilevel models showed a significant or marginally significant increase in understanding the value of school and career adaptability over time. No significant increase was found for leadership and work hope. T-tests showed worksite supervisors scored the quality of their mentoring relationship with participants significantly higher than participants, and regression analyses showed participant perceptions of the mentoring relationship did not predict the continuity of the relationship three months later. The second study focused on personal characteristics and social relationships that are related to career adaptability and work hope. Multilevel models showed parental support and grit significantly positively predicted career adaptability and work hope. Grit moderated the relation between parent support and career adaptability, but not parent support and work hope. No findings were significant regarding perceived mentoring relationship or changes over time. The discussion focuses on program effectiveness, future directions, ways to improve programming, and ways to promote career traits.