Developing ‘The Early Years

Can a school-aged child have a career goal? What about a preschooler? Research at MUN proves that engagement in the future can start at a very young age


When you think of the term career development, chances are you think of upcoming career planning, and the focus on selecting a career or subject to undertake in the future. You’d assume career development pertains to high schoolers, post-secondary students, or even recent graduates from college or university.

While that’s not wrong, career development is more simply described as managing learning, work, leisure, and transitions in order to move toward a personally determined and evolving preferred future.

Career Development 

In recent studies, scientists found that career development starts at a very young age. CERIC is a Canadian charitable organization that advances education and research in career development. It funds many projects, including a recent study done by Newfoundland and Labrador’s very own Dr. Mildred Cahill.

“It was a three year project. Basically, as a straight forward purpose, the purpose was to determine the career development of very young children,” Dr. Cahill began.

“When I’m saying young, I’m talking about ages three to eight. We went to preschools, nursery schools, some of the family centres, and the primary schools which are K-3. In line with going to the children and getting them to talk about career development, we also went to the parents, guardians and educators of the children.”

With the primary focus on young children, the study didn’t focus on them choosing specific jobs, occupations and careers. Instead, it focused on young children becoming engaged and excited in activities in their lives, and acknowledging what it is that they’re engaged in and excited about.

“We focus on character development, risk taking, problem solving, and decision making. Children are learning, through play base, about themselves and their world. They’re learning critical thinking and problem solving. They’re learning about diversity and living in a diverse world, interacting with diverse situations and people. They’re learning their strengths, they’re developing interests, and of course, their abilities,” Dr. Cahill explained.

dreams, and in their drawings, they were drawing what was happening in the media at the time. There was a fire in the news, and some firefighters had to rescue, and there was a lot of children wanting to become firefighters. Technology and media are critical and significant forces at play,” Dr. Cahill shared.

“With parents and guardians, we’re talking about how they can support their children with building confident relationships in acquiring self-confidence, confidence in trying new things, and being open to change.”

Career development in one sentence would be a lifelong process in which each of us begin in childhood, pertaining to self-discovery. Our lives will be filled with events and influence, both negative and positive, so it is up to us to teach our children how to react, how to have confidence, and how to make personal decisions.

Dr. Mildred Cahill’s research has been published by CERIC into two separate booklets based on the study. The publication goes by the name “The Early Years”, and there are two versions of it, one for the educators and one for the parents.

For more information on The Early Years: Career Development for Young Children, visit and coming soon to and 

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