Monday, March 9, 2009

Our MBTI Expert Dave DeVaughn (INFJ)Talks Career to an INTJ

JMM wrote:

Dear David deVaughn,

I felt like I struck gold when I came across your website while searching for information about careers for INTJ-types! I related to the career dilemmas of the INTJ’s (especially the difficulty making a choice), and I really enjoyed reading your insightful responses to folk’s questions. If you have time, I'd really appreciate your thoughts on my situation.

I’m a 37-year old female civil engineer who is borderline INTJ/INFJ. Through grade school and college, my strength and interest was always math. I started out as a math major, but I ended up getting an undergraduate degree in science, followed by a master’s degree in civil engineering. While I enjoyed the challenge of studying engineering and I like working with engineers, I've never enjoyed the work (despite trying different environments – design, operations, and government). At this point, the ‘physical world’ and building or constructing things bores me to tears; I'd rather live in the world of ideas and systems. Also, I feel that my jobs focus more on communication and team-work than on my strengths (working independently with math/numbers).

At the same time, I feel a very strong urge do something that has meaning and purpose. In fact, I spent a majority of my free time reflecting on questions concerning the ‘meaning of life’, etc. A clergy-type position would probably be a good fit, but I’m too independent-minded to fit into any organized religion. I also have a passion for helping abused and neglected animals (but I don’t want to become a vet or do anything in the medical field).

At this point, I'm thinking about a career change to something that will allow me to use my natural strengths (math, organizing, planning) toward some greater purpose. One option I’m considering is becoming an accountant for a non-profit organization. But I’m concerned that accounting is a much better for an ISTJ, not an INT/FJ. I’m also considering careers in teaching
math or engineering (but I'm concerned it will involve too much extroverting), starting my own e-business, or doing some work in the area of project controls or engineering economics (where I can combine engineering with financial planning – as long as I can find some good end purpose that I am working toward). Or I may just wander off to a cave and meditate for a few
years on the nature of reality…

Anyway, if you have any thoughts on any of the paths that I’ve mentioned above, I’d really enjoy hearing from you.

Thank you so much in advance and best wishes to you,


Wow! I am actually not sure where or how to start since your own path is so similar to mine. I, too, started out in another field (applied microeconomics/finance) and received a masters in civil engineering. I think those of us on the edge of being INFJ/INTJ flock to civil engineering because there are so many people-related applications for this field. It is much less
text-book engineering than electrical engineering, for example. I have had several correspondences with others like us.

Quite a few people like us end up leaving the engineering field. Sometimes we can stay in it for a quite awhile before we get bored or burnt out. In my own case, I survived by finding a position where I was bridging the gap between technical and social applications thru technical writing, teaching and working with non-technical people.

I learned how to communicate technical information in a manner that could be understood by the lay people that were also involved with our programs - legislators, educators, administrative and support people, etc. This experience is actually what got me into the personality testing thing is the first place. Although I was pretty good at designing systems (in my case, advanced technologies/transportation management systems) I was always found more satisfaction in organizing people. Of course, being a technically educated Introverted Intuitive meant that I was somewhat challenged in dealing with the overwhelming Sensing population. I got so involved with Total Quality Management that I actually took all the graduate statistics courses dealing with analysis of variance (new test program at MSU). Still couldn't find the answers that I was looking for until I happened in the MBTI stuff by accident.

This greatly changed my understanding of how the world really works. Eventually I, too, got bored/burnt out working in a government bureaucracy and headed north to become a residential builder. I still have all the technical fun designing and building houses - but I get more people contact. I at least have a purpose (but a very shaky income these days). We are different in that I enjoy teamwork and communication more than working with numbers.

Throughout my time in grad school and even after I started working for the Dept. of Transportation, I taught at least one class every term. I really enjoyed teaching and did not find that it was as draining as most human interactions. I am a true I ntrovert, in that I am very easily drained by social intercourse. Although I am fairly outgoing (like many INFJ's), I need lots
of time alone. I am not sure why, but Introverts do make great teachers. I think the key factor is finding a subject that you care about or students that you care about. Many Introverted teachers will act more as a mentor than a teacher. This can be a very effective way to teach. I would be happy to share my own methods if you would like to hear them.

By the way - Don't believe everything that you read about INTJ's being cold and uncaring. I have not found this to be always true. I have a close friend that is a true INTJ mechanical engineer. He is extremely talented not only in his area, but also has several patents in robotics which is basically an EE field. He spends most of his free time as a preacher (non-denominational, find Jesus stuff). I have an INTJ engineer friend that became a doctor. I know another INTJ that gave up the engineering and became an attorney (lots of attorneys are INTJ). There are lots of ways to help people as an attorney - not all of them are ambulance chasers (only the I/ESTJ ones).

I have only minimal experiences with accounting types, but I do notice a big difference between STJ and NTJ types. STJ types tend to be more driven by need to be part of the system (keeping the books), where as NTJ types tend to more interested in building the business by first establishing a system of controls. STJ's like to keep track of the info. NTJ's like to use the info to
build. I hope I am making that clear. I have actually been doing a lot of this myself lately. I have a small consulting business that helps people with business startups. I started doing this in the construction business and expanded it into the retail business as well (good thing, since the construction business is about dead here Michigan).

I hope this helps. I really enjoyed reading your letter. Please feel free to contact me anytime. If you find a nice cave with low rent that also allows big dogs, please let me know. If it is in a warm climate and close to a golf course, I just might join you.


[Nancy's Note: I revere teachers. I put the teacher/healer archetypes at the top of the spiritual hierarchy. Thanks to two teachers, Mrs. McGuire and Herr Bruestle, who made me most of what I like best about me today.

IMO, the greatest teachers are always INFJ's. The great healers in this world are INFPs]
For more information about MBTI types that begin with I for Introvert, visit my website

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