Creating a space for the unknown
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This phenomenological qualitative study explored the career development process of black women attending a predominantly white women’s college in the south. Social Cognitive Career theory, Multidimensional Model of Racial Identity theory and the Social Class Worldview Model served as the theoretical frameworks to understand the influence of the college environment, racial identity and social class status on the women’s career development. Interviews were conducted with 11 black women who recently graduated from the same women’s college. Four themes were identified including 1) the process of choosing a career; 2) the influence of the college environment; 3) the challenges of being different; and 4) the impact of social class. Within the college environment, the faculty, staff, and experiential learning opportunities contributed to the women’s confidence in pursuing their career goals. For the majority of the participants, their black identity also played a role in defining their career goals and motivating them to consider certain fields. Social class did not have a tremendous impact on the women’s career development.