Date of Award


Document Type

Open Access Dissertation

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


Education/Higher Education PhD

First Advisor

Katalin Szelényi

Second Advisor

Jay Dee

Third Advisor

Kerrie Wilkins-Yel


This study sought to understand how undergraduate women from different racial and ethnic backgrounds make meaning of the different career messages they receive and how those messages shape their early career decisions. The study was framed by vocational anticipatory socialization (VAS) and meaning making. Participants reflected on the career messages they received from childhood through their college education. By using photos and images submitted in advance by each participant, participants were able to delve deeper into the meaning they derived from each image/photo as it related to their ideas about career paths. This study findings advance the understanding of messages about careers that are received by undergraduate women and amplify the importance of support and agency in making career decisions. Practical implications for women students and their families include participating in groups or programs with students with shared identities, career interests, and goals. Implications for career counselors, academic advisors, and student affairs professionals include further academic and career integration, cross-training of collective advising staff, and continual development of new strategies for reaching out to women students.