Best Career and College Advice for INTPs by 3 Successful INTPs

INTP

INTP (Introverted, iNtuition, Thinking, Perception) Meyers-Briggs personality types only make up 3% of the population. They are most commonly known as “Logicians,” philosophic thinkers whose rigorous, analytical, and curious intellects define their character. They are extremely introspective – sometimes to a fault – but never out of frivolity, and what they value above all is hard-earned wisdom. Because of their fastidious bent, INTPs aren’t always excellent do-er’s, but they’re among the most capable thinkers of all personality types.

Looking for the best schools for this personality type? We’ve surveyed thousands of programs and ranked them in our personality-type college rankings. Check out the ranking of the 25 best schools for INTPs here.

Interviewee 1:head_two
Age: 35
Gender: Male
Location: Illinois
Job Title: Consultant, Data Analytics

Q: Can you tell us a little bit about your educational history?
A: I was a double major in Philosophy and Mathematics at a small liberal arts school in the Northeast. I’ve also taken an array of MOOCs over the years – some for fun, some more specifically geared toward my job. For instance, learning SQL basics and some other useful programming languages.

Q: What is your current position at work?
A: I’m a consultant at a company that specializes in data analytics. My clients range from corporations to colleges to the public sector.

Q: Do you feel like your education was a good fit for your personality?
A: Yes. I don’t think I would’ve flourished at a large university. I’m sure I would’ve enjoyed the resources of a public university, but I enjoyed my manageable student-to-faculty ratio. I also had relationships with my professors that I’m sure would’ve been more difficult to establish at a larger school. A liberal arts background was also important to me: I wasn’t interested in specializing in a niche field to fulfill careerist ends. I wanted to pique my intellect. It’s possible to argue that my areas of study were slightly academic, but then again I didn’t end up in the academy; and both majors trained me to think a certain way that I still use both at work and in my personal life.

Q: Do you feel like your current role at work is a good fit for your personality?
A: It’s nice to have a certain level of autonomy and room to think. I have people above me and below me, but the corporate hierarchy is much more in name than in practice. My superiors understand and respect that I work best in a certain environment, which is mainly on my own. Obviously I communicate with my coworkers and certainly my clients, but I’m not attending meetings every day. I’d never get anything done. I need the time and space to process information; once I’ve done that, I work relatively quick. If someone’s breathing down my neck, telling me they need x,y, and z by a certain date and time, it’s hard for me to work. Fortunately, I’ve established enough trust to avoid that kind of exterior deadline enforcement.

Q: What are strengths in work and school that you’ve gained from your personality?
A: Above all, I like puzzles. Even if they are unfathomably tedious or complex. Not everyone is like this, understandably. It’s a little off. But it’s helped me tremendously in my career – again, in part because I’m willing and ready to do work that a lot of people aren’t eager to do. To tie it back into my background: philosophy and math teach you to build from the granular to the general. So, the singular puzzle piece to the whole structure. I love sorting it all out. That’s my idea of fun.

Q: What are weaknesses in work and school that you’ve felt due to your personality?
A: Well, I have a perfectionist problem. Some people can get where they want to be, and they don’t care how they got there. I can’t channel that approach, though I’d save a lot more time if I could. I don’t really see anyway around it; that’s not how I’m wired. And I’d still argue that, in theory, my methodical approach is more consistent in the long-term. A desultory method is bound to work on occasion, but it’s not a very sustainable model.

Interviewee 2:head
Age: 50
Gender: Female
Location: Massachusetts
Job Title: Corporate Lawyer

Q: Can you tell us a little bit about your educational history?
A: I went to high school, college, and law school all in Massachusetts, and was a History major.

Q: What is your current position at work?
A: I’m a corporate attorney, specializing in M&A, contract law, securities, and a few other fields. My role is as the Swiss Army Knife.

Q: Do you feel like your education was a good fit for your personality?
A: Part of becoming a lawyer is learning how to think like a lawyer, which is a very specific mode of thinking and probably not one most people experience. Nevertheless, it comes pretty natural to me, and both my undergraduate and certainly law school education further honed it. For instance, studying history is an excellent training ground for potential lawyers, in my opinion. Again, you are learning how to think, identifying patterns across a wide spectrum, connecting cause and effect dots. If you’re doing it the right way it can actually be a very creative activity. Maybe that sounds counterintuitive, but that’s just me.

Q: Do you feel like your current role at work is a good fit for your personality?
A: The reason I’m in corporate lawyer rather than somewhere else is because it’s much more in line with my personality – which is to say, not especially adversarial or combative. Trial law is a much, much different game. In corporate law, I’m ideally trying to produce positive results for both parties. It’s a very detail-oriented process, which I enjoy. Like I said before, I like connecting dots; this is a lot of dot connecting. The setting is also important: most of this is done in the privacy of my office or at a conference table with a few other people. I’m not standing before a jury and pleading my client’s case like you see on TV. I don’t have that kind of charisma, which is perfectly fine with me.

Q: What are strengths in work and school that you’ve gained from your personality?
A: I’m a very deliberate, careful, exacting person. I don’t know how I could do my job if I was any other way. So I consider myself fortunate to have found a career that is so complementary to my personality and skill-set. I think that’s how you find success. You have to step back and ask yourself, not just what am I good at, but why am I good at it. If you can do that, I think you can be successful. You’ll also hopefully avoid getting trapped on a career trajectory that you don’t want to follow.

Q: What are weaknesses in work and school that you’ve gained from your personality?
A: I can get hung up on minor things sometimes. This isn’t really a problem at work, except when a deal springs up quickly and I need to draw something up faster than normal. But years of experience have mostly tamed that problem. But it was definitely a factor in school. Scrupulousness pays when you’re a professional lawyer, but it can be a bit of a curse when you’re in school and need to prioritize what will receive the bulk of your time. That’s especially true in undergrad if you’re balancing a diverse course load. If I could give advice to my younger self, I would say that for the sake of your sanity – and just practicality – don’t worry too much about the courses you know you’ll never return to. If you have a lab science prerequisite and you know you’re not pursuing the subject further, don’t fret too much over it. Make sure you pass it, but it’s not the end of the world if you get a “B.”

Interviewee 3:head_two
Age: 38
Gender: Male
Location: Virginia
Job Title: Graphic Designer

Q: Can you tell us a little bit about your educational history?
A: I was an Art History major at a modest-sized university in Virginia, and then attended graduate school several years later in Atlanta to build a portfolio.

Q: What is your current position at work?
A: I’m a freelance graphic designer. My clients range from Fortune 100 Companies to locally-owned small businesses and boutiques.

Q: Do you feel like your education was a good fit for your personality?
A: For sure, I would say. I really enjoyed college, and am always proud to say that I majored in something that’s often the butt of a joke and turned it into a successful career. But I consciously steered clear of more conventional majors, because I knew they didn’t really fit who I was. Plenty of my friends did major in subjects like Business, Economics, Political Science, etc. – which was great for them. Still, I knew where my interests were. Grad school was an opportunity to monetize and taught me everything I needed to know in order to begin my career. For that, I’m grateful.

Q: Do you feel like your current role at work is a good fit for your personality?
A: Most people I knew after finishing their portfolios went on to work in-house at top agencies. I considered it, but I liked the idea of doing my own thing. It’s probably changed a little now as freelancing has become more prominent and practical. I think I would’ve been fine at an agency, but I really do enjoy the independence. I have my own hours, my own clients, my own final product, for the most part. I’m not sure I’d trade those benefits for the ostensible uptick in stability. When you’re working on your portfolio, you gain a lot of exposure to the agency collaborative model because that’s the kind of training you’ll typically need. I didn’t necessarily mind scrumming on a project, but it felt a little forced. I ended up coming up with things that didn’t seem to reflect my vision. That sounds pretentious, but it can create actual creative problems in the long run, I think. So to answer the question – yes.

Q: What are strengths in work and school that you’ve gained from your personality?
A: I’m able to move from the abstract to the concrete well. That’s very important in my field – all the more so since I’m freelance and working on my own. My job is to translate ideas into images. It takes an imaginative drive, which is not really teach-able. A lot of the time, the idea itself is hazy or unclear, so you’re left both to focus the vision and turn it into something tangible. I also have a defined creative process in which I move from one step to the next methodically. I think there’s an assumption that creative types are not disciplined or analytical thinkers, which is not the case at all, in my experience. If I were like that, I’d be staring at a blank screen all day.

Q: What are weaknesses in work and school that you’ve gained from your personality?
A: I’m prone to tunnel vision and/or aloofness. Those sound mutually exclusive, but they’re not. Tunnel vision is probably pretty common among freelancers: you get lost far down one path and have a hard time backing out. Not every idea is going to work, so it’s important to strive toward objectivity. Thankfully, I’m adept at recognizing when something isn’t working and don’t have a problem tanking the idea. Trouble starts when you don’t take a step back. As for aloofness, that’s just part of who I am. I could be in conversation with someone while my mind is totally off somewhere else. It’s not a great habit. That said, at the same time, some of my breakthrough ideas have occurred while I’ve been daydreaming. It’s a two-edged sword, I guess.

Famous INTP Advice:

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“The important thing is not to stop questioning. Curiosity has its own reason for existing.” —Albert Einstein

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