Hello, my name is Gaia and I’m an INTJ.
Now let me introduce myself in a more conventional manner: I graduated from NYU School of Medicine in 2009 with a PhD in Immunology and then continued for a post-doc position at the NIH. After a year or so, I became a Program Manager at the NIH.
While some of you may know what INTJ is, for those who don’t – that’s my personality type according to the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator® (MBTI®). I took this test as part of a wonderful series of workshops at the NIH when I was a research fellow and it was an eye-opener! Learning my type, kind of explained my life to me (yes, I know it sounds dramatic but it’s true).
The test measures your psychological preferences in how you perceive the world and make decisions. It’s not an indicator of how smart you are or what are your best skills, but rather, it’s a way to gain self-awareness; and when doing so in the context of finding a career path that fits you the best or working well with others – it can be quite an asset.
I’m no expert in MBTI® and I’m sharing with you only what I’ve learned from my experience, the basics are that a combination of 4 letters represents your personality type and there are 16 personality types in total. Each letter represents a preference and the options are as follow:
• Extraversion (E) vs. Introversion (I)
• Sensing (S) vs. Intuition (N)
• Thinking (T) vs. Feeling (F)
• Judging (J) vs. Perceiving (P)
You should note that the words chosen to describe each preference are within the context of the MBTI® and not in their usual daily use, i.e. if your preference is Thinking, that doesn’t mean you have no feelings.
Since I revealed my personality type to you in the first sentence, let me tell you more about who I am (and I hope by now you are wondering what your type is). I’m an “I”, it doesn’t mean I’m not a social person, it just means that I think before I talk and I recharge when I’m by myself. My psychological function preferences are intuition (N) and thinking (T) – meaning my preference is to look at the big picture and make decisions in an objective, analytical way. When relating to how the world “sees” us, I’m a “J”, a very clear J…which means my preference is to be very goal-oriented, highly organized and decisive. The overall combination of my preferences is INTJ that funnily enough is called “The Scientist” type in some instances.
Like many of you, I debated (and still am) what should I be when I “grow up”? A great book is “Do what you are: Discover the Perfect Career for You Through the Secrets of Personality Type” by Tieger and Barron-Tieger (http://www.amazon.com/Do-What-You-Are-Personality/dp/0316167266). The book goes into details about each personality type preferences, gives a few stories and examples of career paths and provides a list of suggested professions based on your personality. Now I know for most of you scientists this type of personality tests may feel like “hand-waving” science, but if you’ll be a bit open-minded you might gain some useful insights. You might discover that working in a highly-structured environment would fit you more than working in a creative one, or that you’re the type of people that needs to be constantly challenged or you’ll get bored easily at your work. At least for me, the self-awareness I’ve gained, through the workshop and the book, helped me look more critically at possible career options and narrow it down – I strongly believe it can do the same for you.
Moreover, and not less importantly, it helped me accept other personality types better. And trust me, this can be a challenge for an INTJ…Knowing that some people talk to think (the Es) or some think in zigzag (the Ps) and accepting they are doing so because this is their natural preference and not because they are trying to drive you crazy, can help you in all types of interactions, whether it’s your colleague, mentees, spouse, friends and even your kids.
The MBTI® is highly popular and widely used, so likely to be offered at the Career Services Center at your university or it can be done online. Go find out your type so you can do what you are!
Was discovering your personality type beneficial to you? Leave a comment and thank you for reading.