Date of Award

Spring 2024

Document Type

Restricted Thesis

Terms of Use

© 2024 Annette J. Kim. All rights reserved. Access to this work is restricted to users within the Swarthmore College network and may only be used for non-commercial, educational, and research purposes. Sharing with users outside of the Swarthmore College network is expressly prohibited. For all other uses, including reproduction and distribution, please contact the copyright holder.

Degree Name

Bachelor of Arts


Sociology & Anthropology Department

First Advisor

Nina Johnson


Recent studies on career orientations and decisions are largely based in the field of psychology and focus on individual decision making. However, people of varying classes and cultural backgrounds have different priorities when it comes to choosing career paths, as factors such as financial compensation, occupational prestige, and ethics may be more or less important depending on an individual’s relative social position, as well as the narrative surrounding career choice that they were raised with. In this study, I seek to clarify influences on career orientations and decisions through semi-structured interviews and an online survey of senior students at Swarthmore College. I find that students’ career orientations are most significantly influenced by childhood experiences, that self-identified class of origin is a more effective predictor of career values, that there is a Swarthmore effect which causes students to value ethics over all other factors, and that students have incomplete understandings of their own desires.