Rebuilding identity after an undesired end to a career

Thumbnail Image
Journal Title
Journal ISSN
Volume Title
School of Business | Bachelor's thesis
Degree programme
This thesis examines how identity is rebuilt after undesired end to a career. It aims to do so by making sense of what identity is, how it is formed, as well as why it is important. After this the thesis aims to contrast undesired career transitions to a readily available script offering three stages to transition: separation, liminality and reincorporation. Further, the transition process is explored to gain a deeper understanding of why undesired career transitions are more strenuous on the individuals than culturally more known transitions such as promotions and re-education to more fulfilling careers. Based on a literature review on research on identity, this study displays that undesired career transitions are complex and hard to mould into a traversable path. Undesired career transitions make it harder to rebuild identity because the transitions are 1) nonlinear, involving locomotion between orientation planes as well as navigation of emotions, and 2) under-institutionalised, thus lacking a culturally available narrative. The thesis argues that although undesired career transitions are hard on the individual, they offer tremendous possibilities for personal growth. The outcome of a transition depends on the mindset an individual is able to develop throughout the process. “Identity play” is suggested as a means of developing such a mindset. In addition to these findings the thesis suggests that further research should be done to understand the positive possibilities of an undesired career transition on identity growth as well as on how an individual can be helped to adapt a “playful” approach to the transition.
Thesis advisor
Yli-Kauhaluoma, Sari
identity, identity reconstruction, transition, career change
Other note