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High-skilled female immigrants: career strategies and experiences

Saba Colakoglu (Department of Organizational Behavior, Ernest Scheller Jr College of Business, Georgia Institute of Technology, Atlanta, Georgia, USA) (Department of Management, College of Administrative Sciences and Economics, Koc University, Istanbul, Turkey)
Dilek G. Yunlu (Department of Management, College of Business and Management, Northeastern Illinois University, Chicago, Illinois, USA)
Gamze Arman (Department of Psychology, University of the West of England, Bristol, UK)

Journal of Global Mobility

ISSN: 2049-8799

Article publication date: 3 August 2018

Issue publication date: 31 October 2018




The purpose of this paper is to uncover career-related issues that high-skilled female immigrants face and their strategies for rebuilding their careers upon migration for a diverse range of reasons including following a spouse, furthering education and self-initiated expatriation.


Using grounded theory to explore this topic, the authors performed 14 in-depth interviews with female immigrants that fit pre-determined inclusion criteria for high-skilled (e.g. educated, gainfully and professionally employed). The study context of immigration is the USA, and the authors performed interviews with high-skilled immigrants from Turkey – an underrepresented nation in the US migrant population.


Content analysis of in-depth interviews revealed five primary theoretical themes that captured the career experiences of these individuals: non-linear career entry, career orientation, strong commitment and will to succeed, socialization patterns at work and support network. Integrating these findings with theories on adult learning, the authors developed an experiential learning model of career reconstruction among high-skilled immigrants.


This study contributes to the global mobility literature by developing an experiential learning theory of careers and taking a gendered perspective to the career experiences of high-skilled female immigrants. It answers the questions: what are the individual and situation factors associated with career success among high-skilled female immigrants? and what is the process that high-skilled immigrants go through to rebuild their careers?



Colakoglu, S., Yunlu, D.G. and Arman, G. (2018), "High-skilled female immigrants: career strategies and experiences", Journal of Global Mobility, Vol. 6 No. 3/4, pp. 258-284.



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