Although research exists that explores career planning, romantic relationships, and decision making in women, it is not yet known how women understand and develop the goals that they hope to achieve throughout their lives. The current study aims to answer how women understand and go through the process of developing the life plans that they hope to pursue after college graduation. This research question was answered with Charmaz’s (2006) model of grounded theory by conducting 13 interviews with young adult women approaching college graduation, followed by one focus group which was used to validate emergent themes. It was found that life plan development is a longitudinal process that begins in childhood, but becomes more focused during college, with the help of mentors, tangible learning opportunities, and the growth that exists from experiencing hardship. These young adult women were able to identify important factors throughout the entire lifespan that had helped them hone in on their dreams, identifying positive and negative experiences they had had, particularly in regards to their gender development, which had helped motivate them to work towards their ultimate goals for their lives.


Life Plan Development, Gender, Career Goals, Grounded Theory

Author Bio(s)

Christina M. Zambrano-Varghese is an Assistant Instructor with the Department of Psychology at Rutgers the State University of New Jersey, Newark. Correspondence regarding this article can be addressed directly to: Christina M. Zambrano-Varghese, Department of Psychology, 101 Warren Street, Rutgers the State University of New Jersey, Newark, NJ 07102; Email: Christina.Zambrano@rutgers.edu.


The author would like to thank Dr. Chip Turner for his guidance, expertise, and support throughout this entire research process.

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