There are two main personality types: extrovert and introvert, and each has its own set of strengths and challenges. In a world that favors nonstop communication, it is important to understand your personality type to maximize your career potential. Both personality types are needed in a wide variety of career fields. The key to career success is to find the right job for your personality type.
Defining Extrovert and Introvert
An extrovert is someone who takes his or her energy from social stimulation. An introvert is someone who takes energy from being and working alone. Susan Cain, the best-selling author of “Quiet: the Power of Introverts in a World That Can’t Stop Talking,” makes the point that shyness and introversion are not the same thing. Introverts may never be outgoing, but they can be very confident once they understand and learn to work with their personality type. If you are not sure what your predominant type is, consider taking a personality profile test like the Myers-Briggs. Some people fall to one extreme or the other, while others have elements of both extroversion and introversion. If you are introverted, this does not mean you do not enjoy the stimulation of working in teams, attending meetings or taking part in group projects. It means you may need time to yourself afterwards to recharge.
AOL Jobs reports that many great leaders like Albert Einstein, Abraham Lincoln and Steve Jobs were born introverts. Not all introverts will be leaders, nor will all leaders be introverts. These leaders achieved success because they understood how to use their introversion to their advantage in their careers. For example, introverts enrolled in human services degree programs may choose to specialize in behind-the-scenes work such as finance, research or administration rather than sales or marketing, where social interaction is a key to career success.
Degrees for Introverts
Introverted people are not limited in their choice of career; however, it is important to choose the right focus in your career in order to maximize both your quality of work life and your career potential. For instance, if you choose to major in one of the many master of public health programs, you may find greater success choosing a research-oriented specialization rather than opting for an administrative-oriented specialization.
Careers for Introverts
Introverts often instinctively choose careers that allow them to control their level of social stimulation. These careers are widely recognized as excellent fits for introverted personality types.
- Writing. As a writer, you can maintain control of your work environment. Colleagues understand you need space and quiet to create your best work. Yet, you also have social stimulation when you interview subjects, pitch freelance articles and promote your work. Popular career tracks for writers include journalism, nonfiction writing and freelance work.
- Engineering. Like writers, engineers must balance social interaction with time alone to draft and review plans, write code or complete other facets of their job. Popular engineering jobs include: software engineer, civil engineer, building engineer, mechanical or electrical engineer, chemical engineer and systems engineer.
- Research. Researchers and research analysts are needed in every field. As a researcher, you may work in a team-based environment, but much of your time may also be spent alone in a laboratory or with software programs that help you calculate and analyze data. Popular research jobs include: market research, pharmaceutical research, public health research, humanities research and scientific research.
- Web/Online. From graphic design to Web administration, introverts thrive in Web-driven careers. Social stimulation is easy to control in an online format, and much of each day is spent interacting with machines, data and code.
Career Success as an Introvert
Once you understand your personality type, you can focus your education and work experiences in ways that maximize your contributions. In education, many introverts prefer online classes to on-campus classes because they have more time alone to absorb the information. In job interviews, you can ask questions to see if your work environment will be conducive to your personality type. Best of all, many companies now offer telecommuting, which is an excellent option for introverts.
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About the Author: An introvert by nature, Karen Ohlio just completed her first semester of graduate work in public health. She is excited to start her research practicum next year.