Give this INFJ a job suggestion, please!
October 7, 2010 5:03 PM   Subscribe

Good careers for a Myers Briggs INFJ? (Special snowflakes inside)

I'm an INFJ, definite introvert, who is curently a speech language pathologist working with kids. I like kids, but being around people all day is exhausting. Sometimes I think kids are people squared., making them more exhausting. Lately I have just wanted to be alone *all* of my free time, including weekends. I am young in my career and able to test the waters with adults in a rehab or hospital setting, but what other careers might fit an introvert who is creative and likes talking about touchy-feely stuff? Undergrad in English with business writing concentration and editing internship, master's in speech path.

I read other posts, and it seems lots of INFJs are asking similar questions on metafilter, but updated responses from you are appreciated! (Hello fellow very-rare INFJs!)
posted by shortyJBot to Human Relations (21 answers total) 39 users marked this as a favorite
Take a look at Do What You Are by Paul D. Tieger & Barbara Barron.

Lots and lots of jobs and strategies for your type.
posted by jgirl at 5:25 PM on October 7, 2010 [1 favorite]

Best answer: Hello, fellow very-rare INFJ!

I do not know anything about speech pathologist's day-to-day, but it seems like it is necessarily a people-centric career.

I work in a public library, and would not recommend public library work for our type, at least not the type that I am doing, which blends reference, supervision, and project management -- all very people-centric spheres of tasks. More often than not, I leave work very drained.

That said, my job can be incredibly rewarding, more so than I ever expected it to be. I believe wholeheartedly in respecting one's own boundaries while pushing them, so any advice I give would not involve you finding a career that isolates you socially, but rather limits the amount of time you must spend around other people to do your work.

Limiting your social contact and talking about touchy-feely stuff? Sounds like a counselor to me, perhaps a marriage and family therapist, but that is my own definition of "touchy-feely". If you have experience in (or at least a strong inclination toward) the arts, what about art therapy?
posted by halsted at 5:38 PM on October 7, 2010

NF = values-driven, idealistic
J = organized, decisive
I = likes working alone

=== public interest law?
posted by salvia at 5:44 PM on October 7, 2010

I just helped an INFJ who had majored in business and English to find a career - he's going for mediation.

Have you checked out Vicky Jo's website? A lot of great stuff, and here's the career page. She was also my life coach (I'm INFP) and it seemed to me that life coaching is a great career for INFJs.

I would also second the recommendation for Do What You Are.
posted by Danila at 5:54 PM on October 7, 2010

I would suggest language pathologist to be fair.
posted by parmanparman at 5:56 PM on October 7, 2010

You might also consider what other jobs deal with similar content and interests to what you're doing now, but with a different work environment. My INFJ mom was a pediatric nurse for years - a very stressed out one. Now she is getting a phd in Nursing Science (these are the people who research effective nursing practices.) She interacts with clinical populations as part of her research, but that is balanced with writing, and smaller meetings, and data analysis that all leave her much less socially drained. Would a research career in Speech Pathology appeal to you? What about work in some non-teaching/facilitating part of the special needs world, such as working with a nonprofit or relevant part of a school department?
posted by heyforfour at 5:56 PM on October 7, 2010 [2 favorites]

I think my office of environmental policy-makers, many of whom do a lot of research and literature reviews, is full of people that seem somewhat INFJ. So maybe something in speech pathology research would give you some time with patients, but more time to yourself?
posted by ldthomps at 6:04 PM on October 7, 2010

I'm an INFJ - I'm in academia, at the college level - with a mix of teaching undergrads and doing my own research and am pretty happy. I taught elementary school for a while and was way overwhelmed. I like the mix of teaching and research.
posted by quodlibet at 6:05 PM on October 7, 2010

My people! I'm an INFJ (didn't realize we were a rarity) and generally quite enjoy my work as seen developer- it has led to a telecommuting job that is in most ways an introvert's dream. I know programming isn't your background, but there are other telecommuting gigs out there. (I know a transcriptionist who works from home four days a week, and another person who does freelance grant writing.)
posted by usonian at 7:14 PM on October 7, 2010

I'm an INFJ and do Advancement for a nonprofit organization. Advancement is sort of the inward-facing part of fundraising: we manage the data, prospect research, gift entry, stewardship management, everything related to fundraising that's not asking people for money.

You may excel at being a grant writer as well, given your background. Since you have a background in pathology already, checking out hospitals' fundraising units like their foundation or capital campaign programs is a great place to start.

I think ask.mefi is a self-selecting group which has more INFJs than the general population. It is just like us to tend to seek out and give freely advice for altruistic reasons... from behind our individual computers. :)
posted by juniperesque at 7:15 PM on October 7, 2010 [1 favorite]

Ugh, stupid phone autocorrection -that's web developer.
posted by usonian at 7:15 PM on October 7, 2010

I am an INFJ with an English degree. I have a creative streak, so I enjoy marketing, graphic design and freelance writing.
posted by Ostara at 7:35 PM on October 7, 2010

My dad is an INFJ and he's a prof at a medical school and a residency director. Much like quodlibet, he enjoys the mix of research, teaching, problem-solving, and just generally being an idea-person. He really loves interacting with the residents and got a teaching award last year. (Can you tell I'm super proud of him? :) He doesn't seem to have a problem with being overstretched socially. Do you think you might enjoy teaching others about speech pathology or focusing more on the research end of things?
posted by Mouse Army at 7:56 PM on October 7, 2010 [1 favorite]

I'm an INFJ and an online entertainment journalist. I rarely have to do interviews though which suits me fine.
posted by GaelFC at 10:35 PM on October 7, 2010

I too am an INFJ...I am a lawyer (commercial transactions and litigation). Now that I have my own firm, I can mostly work out of the house and pick my clients. I enjoy helping small businesses and individuals with their legal needs/predicaments. Overall, I feel like it is a good match for me.

That said, when I was at large law firm, I would be pretty tired at the end of the day and in need of some serious solitude.
posted by murrey at 5:57 AM on October 8, 2010

I'm an INFJ and I totally get where you're coming from with the kids thing ("people squared" is so true!).

I'm a freelance graphic + web designer/developer. I work from home and most of the time love it. I still get to interact and work with clients and other designers at meetings and interest groups, but I still spend the majority of my time working solo. I do so much better in a small group or one-on-one setting.

My mom is an IN*J (I can't remember the letter - but I think it's even more rare) and is a chaplain at a hospital. Although this can be exhausting for her sometimes, she is excellent at what she does and especially likes working with older people. She has, it seems, infinite patience and ability to listen to others.

I suggest a route where you are working on a one-on-one basis with the children/adults that you currently work with, or possibly a more research-oriented job. Counseling also sounds like it might be a fit for you.
posted by wundermint at 8:30 AM on October 8, 2010 [1 favorite]

You may decide this is unhelpful or doesn't answer the question, but... You may wish to take the test more than once under different circumstances.

We had a consultant come in to work and were instructed to take the test online. I took it once, answering for myself in general, but wasn't sure about a couple answers, so asked the consultant about it. He instructed me to take the test a second time, focusing on how I behaved specifically at work and what I would like to do - not necessarily what I actually do. I got an different answer (specifically on the T/F and the J/P, but I even flipped the N/S depending on which questions were on the test.) depending on whether I answered for what I wish vs what I do AND for home vs work.
posted by maryr at 8:49 AM on October 8, 2010

I'm an INFJ in public policy (education) research.

I: Conversation, where its a part of your job, almost always takes place on a formal level and almost always takes place either one on one or in formalized settings.
NF: Thinking about people - specifically, how people and systems can better interact to produce good results
J: Lots of tricky, social-science-y dilemmas which require a fungible mind.
posted by l33tpolicywonk at 11:35 AM on October 8, 2010 [1 favorite]

I'm an INFJ working as a hospital chaplain. Counseling people one-on-one is by far my favourite part of chaplaincy. It is intensely personal, sometimes heartbreaking, often tiring work, but I've always rather liked life to be intensely personal and sometimes heartbreaking. Don't be discouraged by feeling exhausted after work. If you are interacting with or even existing alongside other people for 8-10 hours a day, you are going to be exhausted. Such is the life of an INFJ.

Job details: I handle rejection well, which is important for counseling in general and chaplaincy in particular. For every person who thanks you for being exactly what they didn't know they needed, there are a dozen who don't think women (who are, to date, not Catholic priests) are qualified to talk to them about their spiritual lives. I'm honoured to be trusted with people's deepest secrets and fears (though still a bit baffled at how quickly people open up, given how very private I am), and I consider it a blessing to help facilitate celebrations of life and journeys towards death.

I have every confidence that you will find work that fulfills you. Being a young, creative, empathetic person with good communication skills is a very good place to start.
posted by lovelylucy at 8:31 PM on October 8, 2010

Response by poster: Hey! Thanks for the suggestions. I think metafilter is designed for INFJs--helpful, idealistic introverts!!

I have taken the test three times, years apart and in different settings, and always come up INFJ. I do have some P tendencies, but all my other initials are hardfast. My personal INFJ strengths are patience and empathy, but weaknesses are shyness and people-pleasing.

I looked at Vicki's INFJ website, and she actually lists speech language pathologist as a suggestion. I am new in my career (2 years), so I think part of it is being on the learning curve. BUT, the schools are difficult--lots of group work with students who have no real common goals, lots of working with kids who have disabilities with language that will probably keep them in speech therapy through high school, lots of paperwork, constant new referrals for new preschoolers and kindergarteners. It can be awesome when it's awesome, and really hard when it is really.hard. I am at the elementary/preschool level. I *do* feel best when working with systems--concrete plans or long-term programs for kids to target stuttering or articulation or language, instead of just "let's work on /s/ sounds today!".

I have thought of being a counselor. I feel best about myself when I am making another person, an adult, one-on-one, feel better about him or herself by listening. I also have sturggled with social anxiety, so that is a cause near and dear to my heart.

I took a career quiz once and it said I should be a paralegal, which I can see. I also got well-water technician, which I think would be awesome--science! nature! systems!--but would be hard to be financially independent doing.

I have also thought of starting an advice blog with a communication perspective--like, if I can help someone who can blink one eye spell out a sentence, maybe I can help a more typical person communicate better, too.

There is a shortage of speech therapists nationwide, but a bigger shortage of phd speech therapists. I have thought about research or the phd route. Two percent of speech-language pathologists work in businesses as communication consultants, and I think that is truly my dream--kind of a communication counselor for internal operations of a company. With my business writing background, I feel like it would be even more fitting. Next week's question might be asking how to get a job in that...

Thanks again for your help. I felt like this was one of those mefite questions that you know just isn't gonna have a checkmark by it, but I have learned some useful information.
posted by shortyJBot at 6:00 AM on October 9, 2010

I'm also an introverted Speech-Language Pathologist. I totally understand what you mean about being around kids all day really sucking it out of you. I started my career in home health and HATED it (I did not like going into other people's space, etc). So I switched to an elementary school, which I love, one reason being that I have my own room and no one can come there unless I invite them. If I were you, I might think about other settings, including working with adults, that you might like better. In ECI, you would spend a lot of time working with parents as opposed to kids. You could look into foreign accent reduction or working with adult with fluency problems, which is a huge touchy-feely area of the field. In home health, I had very little paperwork, and all I really had to do was therapy. I love that there are so many different places that SLPs can work, with very different work experiences. If you can figure out what exactly you don't like/ like, maybe you can determine another setting you would like more. I also think getting your PhD sounds like a good fit for you, and like you said, it's in demand.

Bottom line, though, is that we should aspire to do something that we love, and hopefully if being an SLP is not that for you, one of these suggestions will help you find out what is!
posted by afton at 6:30 AM on October 9, 2010 [1 favorite]

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