Erica Cardenas

Who are you, really?

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The MBTI places people’s personalities into one of 16 types determined by four polarities: introversion/extroversion, sensing/intuition, thinking/feeling and judging/perceiving. These preferences influence how we behave in and out of the workplace. As we engage in everyday life, our preferences lead us to develop a personality, behaviors and an approach to relationships that are uniquely individual. For example, your boss could be an ISTJ personality, while your co-worker could be an ESFJ type, and you may possess ISFP traits.

Todd Firth, assistant director at NAU’s Gateway Student Success Center, sees diverse value in the MBTI.

“Whether you’re a student just starting the exploration or you’ve been in the workforce for a while and are looking at retooling, the MBTI is a tool people can [use to] look at themselves in a fresh or different lens,” says Firth. “It has shown to hold up well across the board culturally and it’s translated into 21 languages.… The MBTI assesses where you get information, how you make decisions and how you structure your world.”

According to the Myers and Briggs Foundation (www.myersbriggs.org), when you understand your type preferences, you can: approach your work in a way that best fits your style; deal with the culture of your workplace; develop new skills; understand your participation on teams, and cope with change in the workplace.

Read the samples of type preferences below – they may seem familiar:

Thinking/Feeling – A person may decide to apply for a certain job, make a career change or put in extra hours at the office, but it’s how he or she decides that is determined by the preference. For example, the firm-mind Thinker will use the skills of logic and analysis to make a decision, whereas the Feeler is more concerned with the emotion and impact of the decision.

Judging/Perceiving – The employee who prefers Judging (not to be confused with judgmental) would enjoy a planned, scheduled day with a to-do list of tasks. People who prefer to use the Perceiving process tend to remain flexible and spontaneous with their day. Perceiving types would rather stay open to new information and avoid being tied down to a rigid schedule that requires time management.

The MBTI assessment is easily accessible online or can be administered with paper and pencil, usually through a certified individual who has met specific professional requirements for interpreting the results of the instrument. The Myers and Briggs Foundation website provides a list of local certified practitioners as well as an MBTI master practitioner referral network.

Fees to take the MBTI assessment vary and can sometimes cost up to $150. However, many local community colleges and universities provide the assessment at a fraction of that cost. Glendale Community College’s Counseling Services provide the MBTI for $11 for students and $15 for non-students. And for $35, ASU’s Career Services provides the assessment to both current students and alumni.

Firth says that the MBTI is a practical tool for all. “It’s not a golden key, but it’s definitely a step in the process,” he says. “Many of those who take the assessment find that their journey through their career path is much more efficient.”

Aside from the Kolbe Index and the MBTI, there remains a multitude of quick, online career assessments that will gauge different areas of personality-type preferences. For example, the Personality Type.com Assessment™ allows users to quickly identify their personality type in about five minutes.

The initial assessment is free – of course. Then a 12-page personal career report can be downloaded for $14.95. The report identifies the ten most important “career satisfiers” and a review of over 50 careers tailored to the unique talents discovered in the assessment, among other things. Paul D. Tieger created the assessment; he’s also the author of Do What You Are, a best-selling career guide that has sold close to one million copies.

Does personality really matter?

Despite all the theories about matching career to character traits, personality assessments may not be the end-all deciding factor when it comes to honing in on a career.

Miguel Cano, a 29-year-old doctoral student and clinical psychology intern with Texas A&M University and an ASU alum, suggests considering other factors when contemplating a career – like following your passion, for example.

“I find sometimes that people get discouraged when they take a personality assessment. It’s not set in stone … if you have a passion for something, you’ll find ways to make it happen.”

Cano says to seek out people in careers you’re even remotely interested in; find out first-hand what type of preparation you need for that particular career, and what an average day at that job looks like.

“Even if you have a particular personality type,” says Cano, “you still need to assess your personal values and explore what’s meaningful to you.”

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