Graduation season is here. As the school year wraps up and graduates throw their caps into the air, now is the perfect time for all of us to reflect on our dreams and goals, both old and new.
That’s why the 16Personalities writing team decided to ponder the career advice that we’d give our younger selves. While hindsight may be 20/20, we can’t pretend that we’ve figured everything out in the time since we were the ones accepting our diplomas. That said, we find ourselves looking back with new perspectives, some hard-earned wisdom, and a healthy dose of compassion.
In that spirit, here’s the career advice that we – the writing team behind 16Personalities – wish that we’d had as new graduates.
Our Best Advice
Don’t stay in jobs that don’t make you happy. You don’t have to be, like, ecstatic to go into work every day, but if you’re actively dreading five out of the seven days of the week and can’t enjoy the other two because you’re already pre-dreading the next week…well, something’s wrong there, and there are better career opportunities.
Burnout is real, and boundaries matter. There’s nothing wrong with having high standards, but if you don’t set boundaries and stick with them, work can take over your life. It’s okay to not always give 110%, or even 100% for that matter. Take care of yourself.
It’s worth spending some time exploring what you don’t want to do. What you do want will become more obvious as you gain experience and clarity about where your true talents lie. I always wanted to write but never thought it was possible, and I did everything but write up until a few years ago. I feel like if I hadn’t done all that other living, going to school and then back to school, working at dead-end jobs, and distracting myself – I would have never ended up where I am now.
I would tell myself to be less risk-averse and seize more opportunities, or in personality theory terms, to practice adaptive behaviors to balance my strong Introversion and Turbulence. Time and maturity have taught me that I was always more capable than I realized, and I would probably have gained a lot by risking a little bit more.
Stephanie – Turbulent Advocate (INFJ-T)
It’s okay to walk away from what you thought you wanted to find the thing that really sets your soul on fire…or, at the very least, isn’t soul-sucking. I’d tell younger Stephanie that it’s okay to start over, and it doesn’t mean that she failed but that she’s outgrown a certain thing and is ready for a new challenge.
I’m proud of how I started here, which is that I took the test, thought it was interesting, noticed some typos, and offered to fix them for free. I poured heart and soul into that free work because I was passionate about it, got hired, and now that’s the secret sauce for my career happiness. So my advice is: take those chances to offer what you have to offer, regardless of who’s better at it on paper. You can and do excel at what inspires you.
Darrell – Assertive Advocate (INFJ-A)
I would tell the younger me to let my inner outlaw play a lot more. Life’s too short to spend too much time dotting i’s and crossing t’s. A lot of creative stuff comes out of going against established standards. Follow the rules where you absolutely have to and push the limits everywhere else.
Laura – Turbulent Mediator (INFP-T)
Invest in self-development and growth, including pursuits and habits that don’t seem particularly fruitful because they won’t pay off for a long time. Also, if you’re interested in doing something, take the leap and try it now. Tomorrow rarely turns out to be easier or less busy than today, even if we think it will be.
Madison – Turbulent Advocate (INFJ-T)
I would say to slow down and enjoy the work. I can get up in my head and so stressed about outcomes that I forget to enjoy the process.
Don’t get sucked into the hustle culture. Slow down and enjoy life. It’s not all about work. Also, there’s going to come a time when you realize that the “what” you do matters way less to you than the “how” you do it. If you want a job that gives you freedom with your time and allows you to live your life, don’t go chasing fancy job titles, because that’s not what’s most important to you.
Monica – Turbulent Advocate (INFJ-T)
Believe in yourself! You don’t have to do so much work and be better than everyone to prove yourself. Take the time to enjoy your work environment, get to know your colleagues, and have fun with your job. Also, the knowledge about personality types – how they think and how they behave differently – really makes a difference in your life. Oh, and learn how to delegate more!
Congratulations to all of this year’s graduates! And our best wishes to all of you who are looking to embark on a new professional or academic path. May you deepen your self-knowledge, pursue opportunities that inspire you, and learn from every step of your journey.