|Preparing for an adult career through careful planning, choosing a career, and gaining confidence to achieve career goals is a primary task during adolescence and early adulthood (Erikson, 1968; Skorikov, 2007b). The theory of career construction (Savickas, 2005) suggests that career adaptability is a mechanism through which career identity is developed. Career adaptability consists of an exploration and commitment component. The commitment component has been defined as career preparation and includes career planning, career decision-making, and career confidence. We know that youth are preparing for their adult careers and that career preparation dimensions are associated with adjustment cross-sectionally and longitudinally during high school and six months after high school (Skorikov, 2006b). However, we do not know how each career preparation dimension changes over time during the transition from high school to post-secondary education and/or employment, and we do not know how growth in each dimension predicts adjustment after leaving high school. In other words, are high school graduates becoming more decided about their careers, engaging in increased career planning, and becoming more confident about achieving their career goals? And, are these tasks predictive of adjustment during the early twenties?
The current project addressed these questions in two studies. In the first study parallel process models that tested associations among the slopes and intercepts of each career preparation dimension with the other dimensions were examined. For the second study, models were constructed that tested the effect of each career preparation dimension’s growth on adjustment 4.5 years post-high school. Results of the first study
showed that the career preparation dimensions were not developing similarly over time, although each dimension was associated cross-sectionally and longitudinally with the other dimensions. Results also suggested that career planning and decision-making precede career confidence. The second study showed that increases in career planning and career confidence and decreases in career indecision were predictive of adjustment, defined for the current study as positive aspects of mental health, 4.5 years after high school, controlling for initial adjustment during 12th grade. Overall, results support and extend extant theory and empirical research that suggests career planning, decision-making, and confidence are interrelated dimensions that are associated with adjustment.