The Myers-Briggs Type Indicator

Many years ago in community college, I took a test that assessed my personality, interests, skills, values and needs – it was called the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator. Any college kid could sign up and take this test – the purpose was to give a list of career characteristics and job activities that are often rewarding to someone with the specified type preferences. The results would give you 4 letters, or a specific “type,” and then you could see a list of 50 careers that your “type,” based off of high percentages, chose. At the time I was confused about what I should be studying in school. Ever since I was born I had been interested in creative writing and wanted to be an author when I grew up, but many people in my life tried to steer me away from a chosen career path as a “starving artist.” I didn’t know what I should do, really. So I decided to take this test.

The test said I was an ISTJ: “Quiet, serious, earn success by thoroughness and dependability. Practical, matter-of-fact, realistic, and responsible. Decide logically what should be done and work toward it steadily, regardless of distractions. Take pleasure in making everything orderly and organized – their work, their home, their life. Value traditions and loyalty.”

I: introversion (people who prefer introversion tend to focus on the inner world of ideas and impressions

S: sensing (people who prefer sensing tend to focus on the present and on concrete information gained from their senses)

T: thinking (people who prefer thinking tend to base their decisions primarily on logic and on objective analysis of cause and effect)

J: judging (people who prefer judging tend to like a planned and organized approach to life and prefer to have things settled)

Careers often chosen by ISTJs included management in business or government, accounting, engineering, teaching, computer operations and analysis, technical/trade, police/corrections, and skilled trade and crafts work.

Because I also enjoy working with children, it made sense to me to major in Elementary Education. I was more than halfway done with the program (had made it to the student teaching portion and had 2 semesters to complete) when I made the spontaneous decision to drop out. I was miserable in the program (I hated writing lesson plans), and had an epiphany one evening that if I continued on, teaching would completely drain me if I chose to pursue it, and any plans of writing creatively on the side would never happen. I am such a detail-obsessed person that my job as a teacher wouldn’t end when it was time to go home – I would be thinking about it and working once I got home and beyond. I’m not the most patient person and school came very easy to me – I found it difficult to work with kids who didn’t “get it” right away. Plus, there isn’t much room for creativity these days – standardized testing is the main concern. I did gain tremendous respect for teachers through what I experienced, though.

Once I dropped out, I knew what I had to do – major in English/creative writing. So I happily finished a 4-year degree, gaining a BA in Literature, Language, and Writing at the University of Kansas.

Currently I work as a production coordinator for several magazines at a nearby publishing company. I’m happy to do this job, and I think I do it well – it works well with my skills, personality and preferences. When I have time I write creatively on the side and submit my work to other publishing companies. The real goal is to make a living off of writing eventually.

So the other day I was cleaning out old papers and I found a career folder with my ISTJ information. Here’s what I find most interesting: Under careers LEAST OFTEN selected by ISTJs, “writer” is on the list. Also on that list is restaurant worker (previously I worked as a chef for 3 years at a restaurant). In addition, musician/composer is on that list (something my dad used to think I would pursue since music has been a big part of my life over the years).

Now then, on the list of careers MOST OFTEN selected by ISTJs, among teaching, are things I would never dream of picking: school bus driver, accountant, coal miner, police detective, chemist, engineer, small business manager, school principal, corporate executive manager, dentist, and many more…

I’m curious if anyone else remembers taking this test, and if so…what are you doing now? Did it match up to what your test indicated? I feel like the description for ISTJ I wrote way above is correct (except it didn’t mention that I’m creative), but the list of careers, not so much. The test failed to recognize that I need something creative to make me happy. I know when I took the test I made sure to indicate that I was a creative person, but perhaps other sections overshadowed that characteristic. My gut feeling to drop out of teaching and switch to what I always wanted to do (however impractical) was the right decision, I know that. 🙂

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10 thoughts on “The Myers-Briggs Type Indicator

  1. Hi, my name is Gina, I’m an ISTJ — but not by any more than 10 points in any category. I took it again a job later — INFP. * shrug * All those things you listed in each category sound fun to me…for two weeks each.

  2. Interesting! Well people do change. 🙂 I just tried to picture myself as a school bus driver – it would be hilarious. Oh, and a coal miner. *cough* “I think I got the black lung, Pop!” I suppose they would be interesting to try briefly, but I know what my heart is set on.

  3. Hey Lauren– I’m ISTJ (I’ve taken the test in highschool, college, and with a job– all the same result), and ended up as a nurse (soon to be nurse anesthetist)… I think it jives well with my obsessive-compulsive attention to details, and my desperate need to avoid being behind a desk 🙂

    • Another ISTJ! Nice. It would be interesting for me to take it again and see what I get now. I definitely have the attention to details thing going on, but I do currently sit behind a desk all day. Sometimes it drives me crazy, but at the old job I worked at for 3 years, I was on my feet all day and couldn’t wait to get a job where I could sit all day. 😛 And if I eventually make a living off of writing, I’ll be sitting behind a computer – but I don’t mind as long as I have an outlet for all my stories and creative ideas. And at that point I can get up whenever I want and walk around or go outside for inspiration or a break.

  4. I am a total ISTJ. I was INTJ in college, but after I became a middle school music teacher, my personality developed into ISTJ. Rhythm in music and notation are precise, and the nice thing about being an instrumentalist is that if something is incorrect, you just need to be told, and it will be fixed.

    What I believe though, is that the middle school part of it made me develop the instinctual snap judgment calls without needing to know the whole story, and without really caring about the story, either.

    The nice part about being a music teacher is that you have all of that black-and-white structure, but are still allowed creativity of expression. I also love to draw, read fantasy novels, and write fanfiction. But they say that professional musicians must find outlets other than music, so I guess it suits me in that respect.

    So, to answer your question, I have changed from my college test, but not by much- and I have a creative side, even though I am most definitely ISTJ.

    • Thanks for your comment, Karen. Cool to find another ISTJ who is also creative. Your job sounds like the perfect mix for that personality type plus room for creative expression as you said. From elementary school on up to middle school I played the trumpet, and in high school I switched to the French Horn. I always enjoyed band – it was the highlight of my day. Also took a folk guitar class in high school. To this day I still get my guitar out and mess around, or jam a little on my keyboard. I used to make jewelry, paint/draw, and dabble in various crafts…still do when I have the time, but I try to focus any extra time on writing. So I can write creatively and use my ISTJ anal editing/proofreading skills. 🙂

  5. Hi Lauren! I’m a little late arriving but was intrigued to read your post on personality type. I am also a creative ISTJ and I adore writing. It is so bad it gets in the way of everything else. I took the test a little more than a year ago while working as a strategic planner for the science and technology field. My scope was thirty years out. I took the test again after I retired and was writing full time. I was still ISTJ but the numbers did something strange. For Introvert I switched from 67 to 78. For sensing I went from 12 to 1. Thinking stayed at 25 and Judging went from 78 to 67, an exact swap with Introvert. I’ve always been a dreamer and have the innate ability to dive into extreme detail or look out in a broad high level scope. I am happiest when I am constructively creating something with a high degree of success probability. I hate wasting my time on meaningless things. I thought the general descriptive characteristics of ISTJ were very accurate for me but that dreamer creative seems at odds with the exception that my introversion is pretty extreme but not the most extreme I’ve seen. Anyway, I thought it was really nice to meet another creative ISTJ, and a very good one at that 🙂

    • The man behind the Black Dragon Society…an ISTJ! Sweet. I’m not alone. That’s very interesting about the numbers changing, too. I think I should retake the test some day. I can’t remember what my numbers were – I’d have to dig for the info again. Same as yourself on the introversion – fairly extreme but not the max. Most jobs I’ve worked over the years have been behind-the-scenes kind of work. I like being left alone to do my thing and I like knowing what I’m going to be doing the rest of the week.

      Thanks for sharing a little about yourself and your background. And the compliment! You’re not so bad yourself. 😀

      • Who would have thought we ISTJs were into world domination by insular secret societies? 😀 Ditto on being left alone and I like knowing as much as possible about a task and really hate surprises by a lack of communication. The judgment part comes out to play then and I might throw out a label like assclown at the non-communicator in my frustration. Just me and my ISTJ doing our thang. 🙂 Looks like we could be a very cool two-person ISTJ support group. Looking forward to more…

      • It’s the quiet ones they need to worry about. 😉 The place I work for can, at times, be terrible about communication. Next time I’ll use “assclown” instead of a deadly glare and fist shaking. Also if I’m frustrated at an advertising client I write the email I’m actually going to send but I also write a separate email with what I’d REALLY like to say. All kinds of creative words are used…many of them have four letters. And I’ve never mistakenly sent the Angry Lauren email version. Yet. ISTJs unite!

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