Ever wondered how your personality dictates the type of career you should aim for? Well I did but it took me a while to find out.
Back in the day (around 15 years ago…) I remember visiting my own university careers service and asking what I should do upon graduating. The careers consultant sort of looked at me blankly and said ‘You’ll be fine, just do what you love.’ Now as a young person with absolutely no idea what she loved, these words were the worst words ever uttered. (You’re lucky, our consultants are far better at giving careers advice and actually listen to the students!) So I left my careers service even more confused than when I arrived. I went to my part-time job in a bookshop (a perfect place to discuss and research what I loved or could love doing as a career) and as I became even more confused and disheartened, I had a chat with a colleague about life direction and career choice. He looked at me blankly and said ‘It’s all about personality.’ This from a man who had decidedly stayed in the role as bookseller for nearly a decade because he just loved books and nothing else. Point taken.
Well, that was the first time it had ever occurred to me that my personality might provide answers to what I should or could do. Not what I loved but who I was.
And so began my interest in (or um, obsession with) the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator tests.
The History of MBTI
The first MBTI test was created in 1962 by Katharine Cook Briggs and her daughter, Isabel Briggs Myers. It was based on Carl Jung’s theory that there are four principal psychological functions by which we all experience the world: sensation, intuition, feeling, and thinking. Jung believed that people are born, or develop, certain ways of thinking, perceiving or deciding in any particular situation. Myers and Briggs took this into account and created a questionnaire to measure the psychological preferences of people of how they view the world and the decisions they make.
The test evolved into including four possible dichotomies of personality traits that make up each one of us and that make up our distinctive MBTI classification. Therefore there are 16 personalities. For example, I am an ENFJ which stands for: extraversion (E), intuition (N), feeling (F) and judgment (J).
What are you?
There are many sources of free MBTI tests available online and here are a few of my favourites:
Once you’ve done the test, the Personality Page careers section is great!
I also found this quick reference guide which outlines the popular career choices by MBTI personality type:
Hmm, part of my job involves marketing…interesting!
More information on MBTI
We have a great book in the careers information room entitled ‘Do what you are‘ and we will soon be offering our own MBTI tests to SOAS students, hosted by UCL. Visit our events page soon for upcoming dates.
If you would like to learn more about MBTI, please visit the following pages:
And whatever happened to that guy in the bookshop?
Well, I think he still works there and is happier than ever. And according to icould, he’s a cat (a very loyal one at that!)