The cognitive information processing (CIP) approach to career development and services (Peterson, Sampson, & Reardon, 1991; Peterson, Sampson, Reardon, & Lenz, 1996; 2002; Sampson, Lenz, Reardon, & Peterson, 1999; Sampson, Peterson, Reardon, & Lenz, 2000, Sampson, Reardon, Peterson, & Lenz, 2004) is intended to enhance the link between theory and practice in the delivery ofcost-effective career services for adolescents and adults. Our aim is to help individuals make an appropriate current career choice, and learn improved problem-solving and decision-making skills that will be needed for future choices.
Problem - A career problem is defined as a gap between an existing state of affairs and an ideal state of affairs. The gap may be between an existing state(knowing I need to make a choice) and an ideal state (knowing I made a good choice). Common gaps in career problem solving involve occupational choice, program of study choice, and employment choice.
Problem Solving - A series of thought processes in which information about a problem is used to arrive at a course of action to remove the gap between an existing and a desired state of affairs. The transformation of information in problem solving involves the recognition of a gap, analysis of its causes, the formulation of alternative courses of action, and the selection of one of these alternatives.
Decision Making - Includes the problem-solving process, and also the cognitive, affective, and sometimes psychomotor processes that transform a chosen solution into action. Moving from theproblem solution to action requires two additional components: first, the derivation of a plan or strategy to implement the solution; and second, the adoption of a risk-taking attitude and the making of a commitment to carry the plan to completion. The problem-solving components are thus a subset of the wider set of decision-making
The Nature of Career Problems
Complex and Ambiguous Cues Career problems tend to be complex with many factors such as the economy, the labor market, the availability of educational and training opportunities, and family issues interacting with an individual's personal values, interests, skills, and financial resources. Often an individual is overwhelmed with cues, some distinct and some ambiguous, that a career problem exists that needs solving. Forexample, a dual-career couple who are trying to balance career and relationship issues during their final year in college, are faced with numerous signals from friends, family, college faculty and staff, and potential employers that they have career problems that need to be solved.
Interdependent Courses of Action
In career problem solving there is rarely only one correct solution. There are almost always several possible solutions to a career problem, with each solution having distinct and often overlapping advantages and disadvantages. For example, a college student, who has the ultimate goal of establishing her own business, could major in electrical engineering, management, or many other fields and still achieve her goal. The routes to achieving her goal may vary, butthe ultimate goal could still be achieved.
Uncertainty of the Outcome
There is no guarantee that the choice of a college, occupation, or job will ensure success and satisfaction. A student who has chosen to become an Emergency Medical Technician may have been admitted to a training program and may have been encouraged by teachers, parents, and peers to make this choice. There is noguarantee, however, that he will graduate and find a job in his field or be satisfied being an Emergency Medical Technician. He needs to make the best informed choice possible and then commit himself to exerting his best effort to maximize his chances of success.
Solutions Present New Problems
A major career decision often presents a new set of problems that must be solved...