Best Career and College Advice for ENTJs by 3 Successful ENTJs

ENTJ

ENTJ (Extraverted, iNtuition, Thinking, Judgement) Myers-Briggs personality types constitute just 3% of the population. These are the “Commanders” of the world — bosses, executives, entrepreneurs, natural leaders who may be coldly rational, even intimidating, but nonetheless earn their accolades and respect. They also greatly admire those around them that can meet their high-intensity demands with results. For ENTJs, people are measured by what they’ve achieved in life – and what they plan on further achieving.

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Interviewee 1:head
Age: 48
Gender: Male
Location: North Carolina
Job Title: Principal, Private Equity Firm

Q: Can you tell us a little bit about your educational history?
A: I have undergraduate degrees in Business and Spanish from a large public university. After about 5 years out of college and in the professional world, I went back and earned an MBA at my Alma Mater.

Q: What is your current position at work?
A: I run a private equity firm that mainly conducts business in the Southeast, though we plan on growing in the next few years. The gist of my job is leading a team that invests capital on behalf of our clients.

Q: Do you feel like your education was a good fit for your personality?
A: Yes. My undergrad experience was excellent. I tend to thrive on the big stage, so attending a large university was a good fit. With a school of that size, it’s immediately clear that one needs to stand out: there are simply so many people, often trying to achieve similar goals. To distinguish yourself among your peers takes a certain kind of personality, which I guess I have. You’ve got to earn people’s attention, and then you’ve got to hold it. The latter is probably harder than the former. At business school, it’s even more competitive. Obviously, now the entire student population is trying to achieve not simply similar goals, but often the exact same goals. Sometimes, the exact same jobs. It takes determinedness, discipline, and maybe a touch of healthy, earned arrogance.

Q: Do you feel like your current role at work is a good fit for your personality?
A: I hope so. I’m a leader. It’s not that I don’t want to listen to anyone else’s opinion — I depend upon other people’s opinion – but more that I’m skilled at distilling and synthesizing opinions. If one of my colleagues sees one trend, while two others see another, it’s my job to determine which path to take. It might be a combination; it might be that one was right and one was wrong; or it might be that neither were in our best interests. (This is rarely the case. I work with smart people.) But a leader’s job is first to listen and then to adjudicate. The order of those actions is not incidental. Bad leaders are almost as a rule also bad listeners. By the way, leaders are rarely the smartest people in the room.

Q: What are strengths in work and school that you’ve gained from your personality?
A: I think determination and confidence, though I would argue those come from the same package. Confidence comes first. Confidence, in yourself and your decision-making, breeds determination. And each of these traits, I would like to believe, inspires my colleagues to do good work. They’re typically contagious traits. Half-hearted leadership, or half-baked leadership, is likely to result in similar results. I don’t mean to sound like all of our company’s success is contingent upon my general day-to-day mood, but I do think it makes a difference. So, I would say those two traits have benefited me throughout my life, in school and my professional life.

Q: What are weaknesses in work and school that you’ve felt due to your personality?
A: I’ll harken back to listening, here. I am constantly aware of improving this skill. I should also note that listening is not about mere consumption. Again, it’s about distilling. We all know that some things are not worth listening to. A good listener is one can cut through the chaff. It’s a learned skill that takes a lifetime and I’ve find improves with age. When you’re young, obviously you tend to think you’re 100% right every time. There’s nothing inherently wrong with that impulse, but with age you realize that you are, in fact, never 100% right. 100% right probably does not exist.

Interviewee 2:head_two
Age: 38
Gender: Female
Location: Washington, D.C.
Job Title: Political Consultant

Q: Can you tell us a little bit about your educational history?
A: I went to high school in Michigan, college in Michigan, and got a Master’s in Public Policy in the DC area.

Q: What is your current position at work?
A: I’m a VP at a political consulting firm in town, where I lead a team focused on strategic communications. I also work in campaign consulting, public opinion/marketing research, and a few other areas. Depends on the political season.

Q: Do you feel like your education was a good fit for your personality?
A: I knew early on that I wanted to get into politics, so my education was very much tailored around that. I’m lucky in that I’m just that type of person. There was very little doubt as to my career aspirations. Now, whether I would achieve them or not might’ve been up in the air, but I absolutely knew this is where I wanted to be. So – long story short – yes, I think my education fit my personality and objectives. I’ll also add for undergrads or high school students with similar aspirations – your undergraduate degree does not have to be in the political sphere. I’d actually discourage it. Politics requires a broad-based educational background to draw from. I majored in English Lit. Major in whatever you’re passionate in and success will follow.

Q: Do you feel like your current role at work is a good fit for your personality?
A: Yes. This is my dream job. I get to lead a smart, energetic, passionate team who matches my hunger, which I’ll admit isn’t easy. It might even be deranged. But I love it. Work is challenging and can be a grind, but it’s a good grind. I never leave the office feeling like I’ve just been mailing it in. Most of the time, my colleagues have to drag me out of the office. It’s important to have that work/life balance, but it’s also extremely rewarding (and frankly a relief) to have a job that you care that much about.

Q: What are strengths in work and school that you’ve gained from your personality?
A: Passion. I sound like a broken record, but it’s true. I’m an extremely driven person, and my goals – professionally and personally – are very clear and set. I’m not content until I’ve met them, and then of course I’ll set new ones. Part of it is having that voraciousness. Perhaps it can be a little overwhelming for people who aren’t used to it, which I understand. People with my kind of personality are aware that they’re outliers. But once others pick up on what I’m about, they’re generally on board. The nice thing about politics is that there’s a high concentration of us here. It’s like we all know this is our safe space. School is less so. Nobody really likes the overzealous political wonk in undergrad. It’s a bit much.

Q: What are weaknesses in work and school that you’ve gained from your personality?
A: I suppose I kind of hit on this at the end of my last answer. In general, I’d say it doesn’t much negatively affect my work. Work and my personality type go hand in hand. College, as I said, is a bit different. You’re still young enough to be like, yeah, I get it but…we’re in college. Chill out. Live a little. I mean, I was very involved in extracurriculars, clubs, etc. But again, probably over-involved and spreading myself thin. College is the ideal time to explore your interests. I think I did. Again, I was an English Lit major. But at the same time, I still where I’d wind up, so it’s not like I went trying out a bunch of activities that I knew I didn’t really have any fundamental interest in.

Interviewee 3:head
Age: 33
Gender: Female
Location: Ohio
Job Title: Community Organizer

Q: Can you tell us a little bit about your educational history?
A: I was a double major in Political Science and History at small liberal arts school in Ohio. Upon graduation, I started law school in the Northeast. I have a JD, but have never formally practiced.

Q: What is your current position at work?
A; I lead grassroots community organizing efforts to promote equal rights and opportunity, social justice, and fair pay.

Q: Do you feel like your education was a good fit for your personality?
A: I think it did. Starting a smaller school was important for me. I needed an intimate, tight-knit environment to place my roots in and ensure my voice was heard. In a larger university setting, I think I risked being drowned out. Once I graduated, I was ready to reach out to a larger audience, so law school was a natural fit. I never truly intended to pursue a career as an attorney, though I suppose I shouldn’t rule it out. What I needed was a solid educational foundation in law, which is obviously beneficial to my current work. Law school is beneficial for any line of work, though.

Q: Do you feel like your current role at work is a good fit for your personality?
A: Yeah, the work definitely requires a particular kind of personality. One, you need to be confident in your cause. It’s a tautology, but this isn’t work one simply stumbles into, in most cases. Second, you admittedly have to be a little relentless. The work is a constant fight, a constant struggle. It takes energy. You’ve also obviously have to either naturally have, or work to develop, a charismatic character – a voice that people can rally around. Like I say, some people naturally have that, others have to really make a concerted effort. In either case, it takes time and patience, which can be frustrating but understandable. Groups of people don’t simply entrust their well-being because you have a liberal arts degree. You have to earn their trust. That takes time and a lot of good work.

Q: What are strengths in work and school that you’ve gained from your personality?
A: I’m about results. It’s one thing to raise awareness about an issue, but for me I need to see actual change. Anything else is a loss. Law school further instills that ethic, I suppose. If your client loses the decision, that’s a loss. This is where the relentlessness pays off, though, because you will lose. In fact, especially in my world, you will lose a lot. I hate that, but it also pushes me to continue fighting. And the longer you can extend the fight, the better chance you have of seeing success. I’d also highlight that for people like me, even a win isn’t a win – not in any conventional, finalizing way. There’s always more work to do, always more to improve.

Q: What are weaknesses in work and school that you’ve gained from your personality?
A: Well, it’s a delicate balance. My work also demands some amount of diplomacy and negotiation. These don’t come easily to me, or any idealist. So the practical niceties of compromise are tough to digest, and the challenge is to determine what is digestible and what simply isn’t. The nature of the world is that there are no absolute victories, but there are absolute losses. There are also Pyrrhic victories. Sorry if I’m sounding fatuous. But you get the drift. Maybe I also over-intellectualize issues sometimes…

Famous ENTJ Advice:

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“It’s fine to celebrate success but it is more important to heed the lessons of failure.” -Bill Gates

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