Recent longitudinal research has established a link between students’ behaviour at university and their chances of job burnout or dissatisfaction.
In their article ‘Achievement strategies during university studies predict early career burnout and engagement’ (Journal of Vocational Behavior 75 2009), Katariina Salmela-Aro and her colleagues conducted investigations on over 200 Finnish students whilst at university and then 10, 14 and 17 years later.
The study showed that those students who more often engaged in task avoidance whilst at university were more likely to report burnout or disengagement with their careers in later life. Whilst, higher levels of optimism were linked to more engagement.
One possible explanation is that people who put off difficult tasks fail to develop important coping skills. It may be that, if you put off difficult academic work, you are also likely to shy away from the hard task of thinking about your career. However, could it be that the procrastination and the career dissatisfaction are both results of some underlying factor, such as an aspect of personality or self confidence? See this article by Roy Baumeister and colleagues, which reviews and discusses the difficulty of measuring the effect of self-esteem on various areas of performance and satisfaction.
Perhaps again we are talking about learned helplessness or a related concept: self-efficacy. (For more on the link of self-efficacy to career choice, job performance and satisfaction, check out ideas of social cognitive career theory.)
- Is this is a message careers staff and academics can both get behind?
- How can we make the link in students’ minds between hard work in the present and satisfaction in the future?
- How can we influence a student’s levels of optimism?