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. 🙂