Career Choices in Early Adulthood

Lesson Transcript
Instructor: Natalie Boyd

Natalie is a teacher and holds an MA in English Education and is in progress on her PhD in psychology.

Many adults spend the majority of their waking lives at work. As such, your career is a big part of your life. Watch this lesson to find out more about work-life decisions that have to be made by many people, especially career couples.

Early Adulthood

Mary Jo just graduated college. She feels like shouting from the top of a mountain that she's finally free. She's free of school and free of her parents. Of course, that brings with it a new set of problems, too. Now that she's finished with college, she's free to do what she wants, and she doesn't have to answer to her parents. But that also means that she has to support herself.

Mary Jo is in early adulthood, which lasts from age 20-40, and is the time between adolescence and middle age. During this time, people are working to be financially independent of their parents and to establish their own lives as adults. A major part of this process of becoming independent involves career choices. Let's look closer at how career decisions can impact a person's work life.

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  • 0:02 Early Adulthood
  • 0:54 Career Couples
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Career Couples

Mary Jo, like many people, isn't alone in having to provide for herself. She's in a long-term relationship. In fact, she and her boyfriend just got engaged!

One decision that faces people who are in relationships has to do with who works and how career opportunities are handled. Career couples (that is, couples where both people work) generally enjoy a higher standard of living than single-income couples. In addition, some studies have shown that families where both parents work are more egalitarian and raise children to be less entrenched in gender roles than in families where only the father works.

However, there are some issues with career couples. What happens if Mary Jo is offered a great job on the other side of the country? And what if that job is in an area where her fiancé's career choices are limited?

It's important for career couples to approach work opportunities with a spirit of compromise and creativity. If one person's career takes precedence, the other person might be left in a place with few options for advancement in their field. So, career couples should carefully weigh options and make decisions about career moves together.


As we mentioned, Mary Jo is really excited that she just finished college. This means that she has a lot more career options than she did before. In fact, over her lifetime, a college graduate will earn over a million dollars more than a high school graduate.

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