How Does What We Choose as a Profession Affect How We See Ourselves?

Introduction to Area of Interest

Research has established that understanding one’s values is an imperative tool for effective human service practitioners. An individual’s internalized values and beliefs stem from a wide array of issues (Yin, 2009). The question of whether Career and Self Image are interdependent is very paramount to understanding personal values and beliefs (McBurney & White 2009). Research has also established that when an individual is confident and comfortable with their own self-image, he/she has a propensity to be less intimidated, uncertain and nervous that is if there is any indication of this at all (Markauskaite, 2010). In contrast, if an individual feels this, getting settled in a new environment is usually much difficult (Kenney 2008). This study will look into how one perceives him/herself about the type of work they are engaged in.

Theory/Conceptual Framework Related to the Area of Inquiry

The research will be guided by an integrated theoretical framework that shows how careers contribute to perception of one’s self-image and are shaped by the environment in which it exists. This will provide the structure on which the research will be based and that which can hold or support a theory of the research work. It presents the theory which explains why the problem under study exists. In addition, the study will also be formulated on a conceptual framework; which shows that the careers and personal perceptions of an individual, pressures and constraints from the society shape the self-image of an individual. The result of this relationship is a discriminatory interpretation of events and interactions with people purported to be in ‘questionable’ jobs (Markauskaite, 2010).

Purpose of the Research

This research is necessitated by the need to understand whether career and self-image are mutually dependent on each other or stand-alone. With this research several questions will be addressed. This research is meant to explore the psychological processes of people who make their living of working in jobs some would consider questions such as prostitution or dancers that work in nudity clubs; find out how what we choose as a profession affects how we perceive ourselves. The big question is whether the person is different from others due to their job and whether this necessitates survival (Yin, 2009).

Proposed Research Approach/Methodology

Check one

M.S. ONLY – Critical Literature Review with Proposed Quantitative Study
M.S. ONLY – Critical Literature Review with Proposed Qualitative Study
M.S. ONLY – Critical Literature Review with Proposed Mixed Methods Study
Quantitative Study
Qualitative Study X
Mixed Methods Study

Proposed Design

The research design will act as the glue that will hold the study together and give credence to the research. The research design employed in this research would be a Ethnographic Research design which is a quantitative method of research. This is the most preferable design to utilize as the interest of the research is to establish a cause-effect relationship between careers and self-image and it makes use of intimate face-to-face interaction with participants. This design will give an accurate reflection of participants’ perspectives and behaviors and utilize multiple quantitative data sources; plus inductive, and interactive data collection (McBurney & White 2009).

Proposed research population and how to draw from the population for the research inquiry

The proposed research population will be mainly focused on persons that the research is trying to find out whether work plays on self-esteem. A large part of the research population will consist of sex workers and dancers who work in nudity clubs, while a much lesser percentage will be left for outside vies. The research population will be provided with a set of prepared questions to aid in gathering relevant information and data to fill out. Information will be drawn from where the sample group works, lives their families, the schools their children go to, where they go to shop and other social places they patron (McBurney & White 2009).

Examples of Research Data That May Be Collected

The data to be collected will answer the question ‘How does what we choose as a profession affect how we see ourselves?’ The research data to be collected will be numerical measurements of traits, trends, characteristics or attributes of the subject matter, and obtained both orally and in written form (Markauskaite, 2010).

Social Change Implications

This research study seeks to understand the effect of one’s career on self-image especially the feelings of those considered to be in questionable jobs. My study will contribute to Walden University’s mission of instigating positive social change as it will mostly get, collect and analyze data from the said persons (strip club dancers and prostitutes) of questionable jobs. As a result of seeking to know how they personally feel about themselves as they work will help in gaining knowledge into this issue; and in turn this knowledge can be effectively used by the university in their positive social change program (McBurney & White 2009).

Additional Information about the Dissertation Proposal

There is material offered that reports on the clubs themselves but is limited in seeking to understand who the workers are or how they feel about their positions. This is what I would like to investigate. I plan to observe the participants at their workplace and interview them using questions previously prepared and at times developed on the spot. I will also offer those who wish to pass their information in written format the opportunity to provide a written questionnaire.


Career and Self Image

An individual’s own self-image is in most cases intrinsically dependent on the career he/she is dependent on. The satisfaction and fulfillment expected from a career have a lot to do with one’s self-image and perception of themselves (Yasko-Mangum 2007). People that have difficulties getting a job or are stuck in an unfulfilling job tend to question their self-worth and how others perceive them (Coetzee & Roythorne-Jacobs 2008). This is most cases leads them to seclude themselves and avoid their family and friends due to embarrassment and low self-esteem. In most cases, individuals feel talentless and disappointed for being stuck in a career they did not envision themselves in (Yasko-Mangum 2007). careers tend to have a very deep effect on a person especially when the career is demeaning or questionable. But this leaves a question on whether some careers are a result of a need for survival (Yasko-Mangum 2007).

Schreuder & Coetzee (2006) observed that an individual is more likely to feel valued and wanted when engaged in a career that they love. This ends up being satisfying to them and their life is one with a purpose. In the long run this will affect the way one sees him/herself (Yasko-Mangum 2007). “Self-esteem can be explained as to how an individual feels about him/herself” (Coon 2009). Coon (2009) also observes that an individual’s self-image is “all about how one perceives themselves and how they accept as true perceptions from others; and that image and esteem are closely interconnected for the reason that if an individual has a poor opinion of him/herself, their esteem will be low”.

Professionals engaged in various careers are usually faced with psychological examinations of their self-esteem and self-image. People are usually limited in their internal image and there is a need to step out of these internalized perceptions and not let them take control of the career Coon (2009) notes “thoughts often occur spontaneously or automatically. They can they can be hard to control or turn off. Thoughts also can be very powerful and aren’t always based on logic.”

How Does What We Choose as a Profession Affect How We See Ourselves

Previous researches have established that one’s own self-esteem results from both a consequence and a cause of one’s career. Our self-esteem is obtained through self-evaluation and appraisal of how one perceives their capabilities and worthiness within the environment he/she works (Coetzee & Roythorne-Jacobs 2008). Self-esteem is a psychological process of the human being. When an individual’s day is broken down, we establish that the time spent at work takes up a larger percentage than the home, with friends or other activities (Yasko-Mangum 2007). Therefore if an individual is stuck in a place where they feel they are not worthy then they tend to have a low self-esteem. However, if they spend this large part of their life in a career they feel comfortable in, then their self-image/esteem is very high (Coon 2009).

Self-esteem takes into context certain beliefs such as “I am competent” compounded with emotional attributes such as; triumph, despair, pride and shame (Coetzee & Roythorne-Jacobs 2008). This clearly establishes that whatever one sees or says of themselves then that is what he/she is and it all depends on the type of work there are engaged in. in most cases, self-acceptance goes hand in hand with determining self-esteem. So how does what one chooses as a career/profession affect how they see themselves? An individual’s own perception of themselves is very vital for their existence and it determines the direction one’s own life takes. Yasko-Mangum (2007) claimed that “it can ‘make or break’ their soul”. The society also plays a huge part in shaping one’s own perception of their own individuality (Yasko-Mangum 2007). For instance, women engaged in ‘questionable’ jobs such as sex workers or dancers that work in nudity clubs, are termed as immoral and low society members. This leads them to have an unfulfilling life and always feel unwanted (Coetzee & Roythorne-Jacobs 2008).

Whether the existence in a career that is questionable is out of a need for survival or rather enjoyment is left to the individual to determine this. On coming to an understanding about this, then one has to have self-acceptance a positive self-image and the freedom to be themselves, as they are happy within their profession (Yasko-Mangum 2007). This is a critical and central mix of creating a positive self-image and self-esteem (Schreuder & Coetzee 2006). In cases where women are engaged in questionable jobs, researches carried out have established that there are conflicting feelings and reactions among those in this kind of job. Some say that they are driven to these jobs due to a need for survival and circumstances that are not in their favor (Coetzee & Roythorne-Jacobs 2008). On the other hand, there are women who do it out of enjoyment and are not in any way cowered by what they do or how society sees them (Schreuder & Coetzee 2006).

The difference brought out by these two scenarios creates an impasse on this issue. As much as one can argue that what we choose affects our self-image, it is clear that self-image is created by how we look at what we do (Coetzee & Roythorne-Jacobs 2008). Coon (2009) observed that “whether seen from the ultimate perspective of spirituality, which encourages us to embrace our true self or from the more modest psychological imperative to develop a positive self-image, the struggle towards self-esteem is everyman’s journey”.

Image has everything to do with perception. The way one’s sees themselves, is vital to how their careers turn out and how others relate towards them (Coetzee & Roythorne-Jacobs 2008). People and the society at large will respond depending on how you view yourself and the levels of confidence exuded by an individual. The workplace and other people feed off what one gives or shows them. But at times, there may be a difference between what people see and what you see of yourself. Personal image and views are shaped and molded by one’s own unique thoughts and beliefs which may bring out a indistinct view (Yasko-Mangum 2007). If an individual is highly critical of themselves and has a negative view of themselves they tend to see themselves in a negative way. How one sees themselves, whether positively or negatively is dependent on their level of self-esteem (Coetzee & Roythorne-Jacobs 2008).

Boosting self-esteem

People should not let themselves be limited to a particular thinking or perceptions brought out by others but rather break free from this internal belief of unworthiness and lack of capabilities. Self-image does not have to control an individual’s career and vice versa but rather self-acceptance of the career one is involved in is a sure way of boosting self-image (Schreuder & Coetzee 2006). One has to act and think differently. This will help change how the society and others think and sees them. In addition to this, an individual’s attitude towards their career, themselves, and their ability is positively changed (Coetzee & Roythorne-Jacobs 2008).

The first step of improving one’s self-image is by changing the negative thoughts to more positive ones by targeting energies and focusing on personal positive attributes. One is limited by their personal efforts and confidence (Coetzee & Roythorne-Jacobs 2008). If this is low then the self-image/esteem will be below. It starts from within and anything experienced from the outside fuels what had already been started internally. Consequently one has to be able to face up to challenges positively (Yasko-Mangum 2007).

It is important to identify the circumstances that are leading to development of a low self-image in an individual. In cases such as this where one is engaged in an unfulfilling career or a ‘questionable’ job then proper solutions should be developed (Yasko-Mangum 2007). After identifying that the career is not good enough n that it is out of a need to survive, it is practical for the individual to take up a different challenge and lift themselves from their current situation. This will help in creating a new self-image as it will channel the individual’s energies to trying to change their current situation from the feeling of not being valuable and worthy (Schreuder & Coetzee 2006).

Coon (2009) observed that after identification of this, the individual has to come to terms and be aware of personal internal beliefs and thoughts. These are what shapes how we perceive ourselves and how we engage in our careers. This is mostly an internal examination. What one tells or talks about themselves is what they are or will show to people. Subsequently, how a situation is interpreted results in how image will be portrayed eventually. Schreuder and Coetzee (2006) observe that these “internal beliefs may be positive, neutral or negative, rational (based on reason or facts) or irrational (based on false ideas)”. In addition to this, an individual should be able to pin down and isolate negative and inaccurate thinking. This will help in working on emotional and behavioral responses such as; the physical, emotional and behavioral responses.

Another step is to challenge this negative and inaccurate thinking that has been isolated. This is to test whether one’s internal thoughts and beliefs have been transformed into positive attributes. One’s views have to be “consistent with facts and logic or whether there might be other explanations for the situation” (Coon 2009). After challenging, now comes the difficult part which is changing them; “it takes time and effort to learn how to recognize and replace distressing thoughts with accurate ones” (Yasko-Mangum 2007). Coon (2009) claimed that once identification has occurred, “this can enable an individual to find constructive ways to cope, and give him/her a boost in their self-esteem.


From the research it has been established that self-image/esteem depends on how an individual sees. Despite the career, one is engaged in if they see themselves in a negative way it will not be as fulfilling and they tend to feel worthless and less valuable. In cases of jobs that the society may term as questions such as prostitution and dancing at nudity bars, the view of such individuals, results in a low self-image. This is due to the view obtained by the society. How one sees themselves feeds how they will be perceived by others. Self-image is holly dependant on one’s own personal internalized perception. The way one’s sees themselves is vital to how their careers turn out and how others relate towards them. The eternal environment feeds from the internalized perception. Individuals should not let themselves be limited to a particular thinking or perceptions brought out by others but rather break free from these internal beliefs of unworthiness and lack of capabilities. Creating and changing negative attributes and vies to positive is a critical way of seeing yourself positively and enjoying the career and environment one is engaged in. this brings about self-fulfillment and job satisfaction.


Coetzee, M & Roythorne-Jacobs, H. (2008). Career Counseling and Guidance in the Workplace. Dreyer Street, Cape Town: Juta and Company Ltd.

Coon, D. (2009). Psychology: A Journey. Washington, GA: Cengage Learning.

Kenney, K. (2008). Visual Communication Research Designs. Washington, GA: Taylor & Francis.

Markauskaite, L. (2010). Methodological Choices and Research Designs for Educational and Social Change: Linking Scholarship, Policy and Practice. Columbus, GA, United States: Springer.

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Schreuder, M.G & Coetzee, M. (2006). Careers: An Organizational Perspective. Dreyer Street, Cape Town: Juta and Company Ltd.

Yasko-Mangum, J.L. (2007). Careers: Look, Speak, & Behave for Women: Expert Advice on Image, Etiquette, and Effective Communication for the Professional. Dreyer Street, Cape Town: New York, NY.

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