Bowen, T. (2016). Depicting the possible self: Work-integrated learning students' narratives on learning to become a professional. Asia-Pacific Journal of Cooperative Education, 17(4), 399-411.
Professionalism is not easily defined for newcomers to the workforce. While much of the work-ready research focuses on desired graduate attributes and skills, the larger issue is the ways in which students conceptualize professionalism from their observations and experiences of others, and how these conceptualizations affect their professional identity construction. Twelve Canadian and six Swedish students enrolled in WIL programs were asked how they think they learn to become a professional. Participants described similar experiences of continually renegotiating their sense of self in an effort to construct a hoped-for-possible professional self. Rich Pictures (RPs) were also used to explore how students visually conceptualized the process of becoming "the professional". Participants from both countries emphasized the importance of self-management and self-censorship in terms of knowing how to look and sound like a professional. Participants used the RPs to visually depict their hoped-for possible self in contrast to the feared for self.