Transition from University to Work

Transition from University to Work: Understanding Personality Development [PhD Project]

Entering the workforce is a major developmental transition. Some adjust well and show personality growth, while others struggle. It is unclear why individuals differ. The team will study young adults as they transition from teacher education to working as teachers. The project will provide novel insights into the environmental and individual contributors to personality development in the transition to work.

A successful entry into the work force

Today’s young adults will have to work for up to 50 years. A good start into the work force that helps employees to stay healthy and employable across their career is therefore of key importance. Young adults have, however, the highest proportion of employee burnout, which has negative consequences for individuals, employers and societies. Identifying the promotors of a successful entry into the workforce is therefore needed. A focus on personality growth is of particular interest as it can help employers design workplaces and interventions that help them grow and adjust to rapid transformations in today’s societies.

Change processes of personality development

Personality characteristics such as self-esteem are key predictors of well-being, work performance, and career success. We focus on the development of self-esteem as a function of the tremendous changes in daily life and challenges and successes in the new roles as employees. Our recent study demonstrated that individuals differ vastly in their self-esteem change during the work transition, which is linked to their daily life experiences. More fine-grained research designs are needed to understand the processes of individual differences in self-esteem development. We therefore study environmental and individual factors and processes on macro- and micro-level time scales, including work environments, psychological needs, and emotions. We will conduct an intensive longitudinal study that captures both, experiences in daily life and change across several years.

Interdisciplinary collaboration

This interdisciplinary project integrates approaches and constructs from developmental psychology (developmental change during a life transition), personality-social psychology (personality, needs, emotions), and work and organizational psychology (workplace characteristics). The researchers from Tilburg University will collaborate with researchers from School for Child and Education, Fontys University of Applied Sciences. The interdisciplinary team brings complementary expertise to the project:

PhD student:

Ketaki Diwan (Msc) is a PhD student in the Department of Developmental Psychology and the Department of Human Resource Studies. She has a background in industrial/organizational psychology and social psychology. Ketaki is interested in the role of emotions and needs in self-esteem change.

Principal investigator and supervisor at Tilburg University:

Anne Reitz (PhD) is an Assistant Professor at the Department of Developmental Psychology. She is a personality-developmental psychologist interested in self-esteem, personality, and life satisfaction. She uses intensive longitudinal methods to study when, how and why these characteristics change through dynamic transactions with the environment, including life transitions, life events, and social relationships.

Researcher and external supervisor:

Christina Meyers (PhD) is a work-organizational psychologist with a background in human resource studies. She brings in her expertise on (positive) work context factors relevant for the transition to work.

Collaborators at Fontys University of Applied Sciences:

Anouke Bakx is lector Goed leraarschap, Goed leiderschap at Fontys University of Applied Sciences, School for Child and Education. She also works as an endowed Professor of Giftedness at Radboud University. She brings in her expertise on teacher education to the project.

Evelyne Meens is a senior researcher and coordinator of research line studysuccess at Fontys University of Applied Sciences School for Child and Education. She contributes her expertise regarding individual differences in student identity, motivation, study career choices and academic success to the team.


Project duration: 2020 - 2024

Cross-cutting themes

The Herbert Simon Research Institute for Health, Well-being, and Adaptiveness is a research center devoted to carrying out excellent, state of the art research in order to contribute to healthy and resilient people. We have selected three themes, which involve the collaboration between various Departments  and address actual themes in need of both fundamental and applied research.