Best Career and College Advice for ENTPs by 3 Successful ENTPs

ENTP

ENTP (Extraverted, iNtuition, Thinking, Perception) Briggs-Meyer personality types make up about 3% of the population. Known as the “Debaters,” ENTPs are typically highly independent, contrarian, and prone to playing devil’s advocate — often more for the thrill of the game than any particular end. This makes them occasionally difficult to work with on smaller day-to-day tasks, but also may produce the big-time innovative ideas that spring out of challenging, provocative brainstorms.

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Interviewee 1:head_two
Age: 29
Gender: Male
Location: Austin
Job Title: Brand Manager

Q: Can you tell us a little bit about your educational history?
A: I went to a public high school in rural Tennessee, then took a gap year to travel throughout South America — mostly Peru, Chile, and into Patagonia. I came back and got a BA in English Lit from a small liberal arts school in Ohio. I also minored in Philosophy.

Q: What is your current position at work?
A: I basically work alongside a few select, well-known brands and build cutting-edge, often unconventional PR and marketing strategies. I wouldn’t say I have any firm title or set position — though I do lead a team.

Q: Do you feel like your education was a good fit for your personality?
A: Definitely. I never had any real, tangible gameplan or career goals. I just knew that I liked reading and writing, and the college I attended had an excellent program. Both English and Philosophy classes are mostly about attacking texts that do not necessarily have any agreed-upon, absolute meaning. Whatever meaning is discovered is mostly discovered through debate, conversations, etc. For philosophy, you would cal it a dialectic. Anyway, yes — I thrive in settings in which I can argue with people, respectfully of course. And arguments don’t always have to lead to a conclusion, by the way. I think that’s a false premise. It’s about process. If you get an answer, that’s great. But it shouldn’t be considered a failure if you don’t.

Q: Do you feel like your current role at work is a good fit for your personality?
A: Yes, again. There are plenty of roles in the wide umbrella of advertising/marketing/PR that are focused on granular stuff, where you’ve got to nail down every detail. That’s not really me, as I guess my personality type indicates. I don’t enjoy getting deep in the weeds. I get overwhelmed or frustrated and quit. In my position, my job is constantly to be thinking big picture: what can we do that no one else is doing? How can I differentiate these brands in an already oversaturated —and increasingly in-the-know — environment? For that, you’ve got to think big first. And preferably also wide. The way I think — which is idea-driven, not results-driven — this is ideal. If you’re preoccupied with results, you preclude breakthrough ideas. You’ll say no to everything, when you should be saying yes. It’s not my job to say no.

Q: What are strengths in work and school that you’ve gained from your personality?
A: Kind of what I was just saying. Because I’m more prone to push forward without hangups, I’ve gained a wealth of opportunity, relative autonomy, and fun experiences that I would not exchange for anything. I could’ve played it safe in college and chosen a more directly applicable professional degree, but that would’ve been miserable and I would never have excelled. Anything business-related was immediately ruled out — just not for me. I guess with my penchant for debate I could’ve been a Political Science major or something, but that seemed a little self-serious and dry. I’m happy to talk ethical imperatives and theories of language — these topics are fun to play around in — but I’m not particularly interested in listening to 18-year-olds talk public policy.

Q: What are weaknesses in work and school that you’ve felt due to your personality?
A: Well, I guess I wouldn’t consider them weaknesses, but maybe others would say that I jump into things in the blind too often. In other words, I’m too strong-headed for my own good and don’t “do my due diligence.” Again, I would argue this is counterintuitive to my natural instincts and also simply not my job. I will admit that at times I can get too caught up in my own ideas and stall. Stalling is the enemy.

Interviewee 2:head
Age: 24
Gender: Male
Location: New York
Job Title: Co-Founder in an early stage Tech Startup

Q: Can you tell us a little bit about your educational history?
A: I went to a private high school in Atlanta and then attended college in New England. I dropped out after two years to start my company, and I now I’m taking a selection of specialized online classes to complete my degree.

Q: What is your current position at work?
A: I mean, it’s really just me and two friends. I guess I’m more in charge of big picture stuff, but it’s a fluid situation. The courses I’m currently enrolled in are business-focused, because that’s the area we’re currently most in need of. The final degree will be a pretty customized, unconventional BS.

Q: Do you feel like your education was a good fit for your personality?
A: Yes and no. The on-campus college experience probably ignited my entrepreneurial drive, but I also realized I kind of felt like I was wasting my time. I had an idea, and I wanted to act on it right away. Why wait? By the time I graduated, the idea risked being obsolete. Plus I had to fulfill all these core requirements that seemed to be impediments. Honestly, if I had kept at it, I probably would’ve failed out anyway because there’s just no way I was going to attend any irrelevant classes. I didn’t care about them. My current setup is much more amenable. I take what I know absolutely need, or what I imagine might help me in the future. There’s obviously a lot more independence.

Q: Do you feel like your current role at work is a good fit for your personality?
A: Yes, because at least for now, there’s really no need to place specific labels on our positions. We’re all utility players. It’s true that I have certain strengths that my coworkers might lack and vice versa, but I don’t want that to discourage me from trying my hand at something if an idea arrives. Same goes for them. It’s about creating an open, collaborative work environment. Leveraged properly, our smallness is an advantage. We’ve got an extremely accessible and lively marketplace of ideas. I’m trying to supply that marketplace with all I’ve got.

Q: What are strengths in work and school that you’ve gained from your personality?
A: I would say mainly independence. That’s probably my most defining trait. I need that to be productive. I can’t work in a cubicle. I can’t churn out research papers. But I can work toward personal goals. I can do that well. Both my work and school are contingent upon me doing that well. You could say it’s risky, but I think it’s worth it. When you place yourself in a position where there’s no safety net, it forces you to give it everything you’ve got. Independence fosters passion, drivenness, and a healthy sense of risk.

Q: What are weaknesses in work and school that you’ve gained from your personality?
A: Well the flip side of that independent streak is probably stubbornness or narrow mindedness. Also impatience. Seems like they’re all connected. I guess as an ENTP I’m often convinced I’ve got all the right answers, or at least all the right impulses. So I typically don’t like it when something comes along to challenge those impulses. Even though I know in the long run the challenges are useful. And again, I fall in line the ENTP type again because it’s not that I don’t enjoy conflict — I just want to come out on the winning side. That’s slight more applicable to work, but you can see how it affects school, too. I mean, I dropped out…
Interviewee 3:head_two
Age: 32
Gender: Female
Location: Los Angeles
Job Title: Writer/Director

Q: Can you tell us a little bit about your educational history?
A: I went to high school in Montana and film school in LA. Two very different worlds, as you may imagine.

Q: What is your current position at work?
A: I’m a freelance writer and director of independent short films. I’ve also worked in the commercial and digital sphere a tad — which pays well, but isn’t really my style. Same goes for producing — I’ve certainly done it, but it’s much more behind-the-scenes work that I don’t really enjoy.

Q: Do you feel like your education was a good fit for your personality?
A: I think so. I needed to escape the small-town frontier life, and I most certainly achieved that in moving to LA. I honestly barely remember why I applied to film school. I’ve always enjoyed storytelling, and film is such a powerful medium. Film school had its pros and cons. On the one hand, my program was impressively comprehensive and in-depth, which I liked. I didn’t want to have this narrow, myopic education. On the other hand, it’s still essentially a professional degree, albeit a unique and creative one, and some material is inevitably geared toward the behind-the-scenes work that I don’t excel in. The biggest benefit is the freedom to experiment and explore the art form. To find your voice. And being surrounded by a community of like-minded individuals inevitably draws out creativity. You are trying to respond to and outdo your peers.

Q: Do you feel like your current role at work is a good fit for your personality?
A: Absolutely. Like many of my “type” (I presume), I value freedom of self-expression. The nice thing about film is how it synthesizes a singular vision with a collaborative effort. When I both write and direct something, this obviously affords me a significant amount of control over the project. Having said that, if you’ve ever been on a set you know how many voices filter into just a single shot, let alone an entire shoot. I cherish that crowdsourced effort, as I also cherish that the final decision still falls to me!

Q: What are strengths in work and school that you’ve gained from your personality?
A: First, probably what I just mentioned — that I enjoy that creative conversation. I may not necessarily agree with one perspective, but I understand that it’s essential to the artistic process to hear that perspective. I can’t operate in a vacuum. Or if I did, my work would suffer because of it. Filmmakers, just like any other artists, need to absorb as much of the art form as possible in order to take all those influences and crystallize them into their own unique vision. The other main personality trait pro is energy and enthusiasm. Film shoots take place over exceptionally long, exhausting, and mostly frustrating days. You can go over one scene a million times and never get it quite as you’d imagined. You’ve just got to accept that. It’s not easy, and it requires a certain amount of blind, almost reckless drive. But that’s also part of the fun.

Q: What are weaknesses in work and school that you’ve gained from your personality?
A: This is less to do with writing and more directing. My writing is mostly solitary. (This is hardly the rule in show biz; television shows have a whole room of writers. That might be too much for me…) Directing, however, demands patience, give-and-take, and some occasional back scratching. I’m not particularly adept at any of these. Like I said, energy and enthusiasm will carry you some of the way, but they’re no panacea. School was the same way. Film school definitely allows more room to maneuver than a traditional college format, but there’s still plenty of stuff that I would’ve really rather skipped. For instance, any kind of editing. I hate it. You’re sitting in front of two retina-display computer screens for hours on end trying to piece every scruple into the puzzle, and it’s just not fun to me. It’s essential that I be around to at least review cuts, but I loathe every minute of it. Unfortunately, the best artists are often equally good editors.

Famous ENTP Advice:
catherine_the_great

“Fortune is not as blind as people imagine. It is often the result of a long series of precise and well-chosen steps that precede events and are not perceived by the common herd.” — Catherine the Great

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