Rachel Vannatta Reinhart, Advisor
The purpose of this study was two-fold: (1) to explore the relationship between investments that students make in themselves while enrolled in a higher education program and their post-graduation career satisfaction, and (2) to gather information about the importance apparel and textile professionals place on selected competencies identified by the International Textile and Apparel Association (ITAA).
Graduates (n=123) of an apparel and textiles (A&T) program at a four-year, public research institution were surveyed to examine which investments in self best predict post-graduation career satisfaction. The Survey of A&T Graduates’ Career Satisfaction consisted of 86 items measuring perceived importance and preparation of the ITAA meta-goals and competencies, career satisfaction, co-curricular activity involvement, on-the-job training, health and well-being, career competencies, and willingness to relocate.
Multiple regression showed that Career Competencies and Health and Well-being best predicted participants’ post-graduation career satisfaction. Participants rated the Professional Development meta-goal; the Ethics, Social Responsibility, and Sustainability meta-goal; and Critical and Creative Thinking meta-goal of highest importance. These same meta-goals received highest perceived preparation ratings.
Lastly, ANOVA findings revealed that buyers, retail managers, marketing professionals and others indicated differences in perceptions of competencies and meta-goals. The buyers/merchandisers rated the Industry Processes and the Critical and Creative Thinking meta-goals of higher importance than retail managers. Retail managers perceived the Global Interdependence meta-goal as less important than marketing professionals did. The Ethics, Social Responsibility, and Sustainability meta-goal was perceived more important by retail managers than “others” category did. Graduates’ career satisfaction differed mostly by Income levels. Those who reported earning lower salaries were overall less satisfied with their careers.
Results suggest that current leaders of apparel and textile programs should enhance their curricula with pedagogy methods that facilitate learning of teamwork, leadership, clear communication, ethics, and social responsibilities. Internships and experiential learning are recommended to enhance the on-the-job training of students in A&T programs. In addition, all investments in self, with exception of Willingness to Relocate, are related to Career Satisfaction. Lastly, Post-graduation career satisfaction is best predicted by graduates’ Career Competencies and Health and Well-being.