When you graduate college, people will give you different advice on what to do next.
Some people will tell you to take a year off, explore the world, and try to become famous on Instagram. Others will tell you to secure an internship that translates into a well-paying job — or skip the internship and find the best paying job you can. And still others will tell you to skip the job entirely to sell stuff on Amazon or become a freelancer.
But today I’m going to tell you to start your post-grad life’s journey from a different place: considering whether you’re introverted or extroverted.
Are you an introvert, or an extrovert?
There’s a lot of ink that’s been spilled on what introvert and extrovert mean. I’ll give you a simple summary: introverts draw their energy from alone time, while extroverts draw their energy from socializing.
Where do you fit in that spectrum?
Think about what energizes you the most, and what drains you. That knowledge will inform you about what career path is the best fit for you.
It’s important to realize that introverts do enjoy spending time with other people, and extroverts do enjoy spending time alone. Humans by nature are social animals who need others to survive.
But mainly, introverts and extroverts gravitate towards whatever gives them the most vitality — and minimize immersion in its opposite, which leaves them drained or feeling an internal lack.
Extroverts prefer to socialize; they might need an occasional hour or two to read a good book or take a walk to process their thoughts, but too much alone time can leave them with severe FOMO (the fear of missing out, for all guest readers to PGSG).
Introverts prefer to spend time alone, even if they look forward to meeting up with friends for drinks — but too many outings or too long an outing will leave them wanting to escape home into a good book.
So what does this have to do with my career path?
Introverts and extroverts will find that a job catering to their preferences will make them happier. In fact, many people who dislike what they do or find it unfulfilling would probably be a lot happier if their work environment was more aligned with their inclinations toward introversion or extroversion.
Extroverts love spending time with people. Jobs that are built on a foundation of frequent human interaction are good for extroverts. Teaching, sales, law enforcement, and consulting or coaching all are good career paths for extroverts (there are many others).
Introverts love spending time alone. Jobs that are built on a foundation of frequent alone time are good for introverts. Computer programming, accounting, online retail, and writing are all good career paths for introverts (there are many others).
It’s important to keep in mind that there are some professions both introverts and extroverts can enjoy. Someone interested in medicine can enjoy the introverted aspects of medical research and surgery, while an extrovert might be better suited to opening their own family practice.
But some jobs really are better for introverts than extroverts, and vice versa. It does depend on some other factors such as the job itself and its outlined responsibilities.
It’s a safe bet that sales (for example) is a bad career choice for introverted people who would be drained all day by interactions that drive their revenue. And it’s likely that someone who craves conversation would be miserable or bored filling out an excel spreadsheet 40 hours a week.
How do you get energized?
Ask yourself: am I introverted or extroverted? Where do I draw my energy from? If you’re not sure, reach out to people who know you well like your parents, friends, and even past teachers.
Don’t make the mistake of assuming that you can only be professionally successful and have the money you need to get by if you pick a certain career. There are plenty of lucrative career paths and opportunities that are great for both introverts and extroverts. There are plenty of options for employment, self-employment, and entrepreneurship that are available to both introverts and extroverts.
Remember that being successful and happy in life is not just about how much money you make. It’s about how you make that money as well (in addition to other factors). And moreover, you’ll often find that the people who are most financially successful and personally fulfilled are people who are making money in a way aligned with their personality. Look at any entrepreneur or well-paid, happy employee and you’ll see that they’ve built a successful business or career doing what makes them happy.
You can be like that too. You just need to ask yourself: am I introverted, or extroverted?
This post was previously published on Medium.com.
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