But as a college student, perhaps it seems like you’re living your life looking from the outside in. Or when you’re asked to describe yourself, words like”, quiet”, “contemplative”, “reflective”, “creative” and “thoughtful” come to mind.
So are you an introvert? If you relate to the following preferences, chances are good that you are…
You’d Rather Write a Paper and Communicate Via Email Than Communicate Verbally
Your forte is writing papers because you have the time to research the topic and write down your thoughts. You have the ability to concentrate on the topic at hand, take time to formulate your sentences and paragraphs.
Group discussions can go either way for you; great because you’re hitting each point, or poorly because you prefer to think before speaking, unlike your counterpart, the extravert. If the class is being dominated by the extraverts, you may have a hard time speaking up. You have the correct answers but hesitate and miss your opportunities.
Times like these will be a good lesson for when you enter the workforce where the extraverts can dominate the meetings, unless you find small breaks in discussion to express your thoughts. No, don’t bother raising your hand.
You’d Prefer to Work Alone or with One Other Classmate
While many people―mainly extraverts―think teamwork and brainstorming are the key to creativity, other, wiser people know creativity can come from individual work. Susan Cain, author of Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World that Can’t Stop Talking, asserts in a blog post that creativity has little to do with group collaboration:
“There’s a lot of nonsense floating around these days about how creativity is a fundamentally social act. Ignore this. Yes, creativity is social in the sense that we all stand on the shoulders of those who came before us….But for many people, the creative thinking process is a solo act.”
In the workplace a great deal of emphasis is placed on working as a team. You’ll have to contribute to your team’s efforts, ignore the useless prattle that may ensue. Take time alone to decompress from the many meetings and brainstorming.
Parties Aren’t Your Thing
Alone you enter a crowded room blaring with loud music, scan the scene for a familiar face or two; and not recognizing a soul, simply leave, unbeknownst to the host. Or you’ve been at a party for two hours and feel it’s time to leave, even though your classmates are just warming up. You’re tired and weary of making small talk that feels shallow to you.
Here’s a different scenario that is more palatable: some close friends ask if you’d like to spend Friday night at a movie or sporting event and then going back to the dorm room to engage in deep, meaningful conversation. Even though it’s 12:00 am, you’re thoroughly enjoying yourself.
Your job out of college might include attending networking events, where you’ll have to engage in small talk. Always make sure you’re ready with talking points about current events, industry news, even sports; but never talk about religion and politics.
You Have Fewer but Deeper Friendships
You marvel at your extraverted classmates who seem to know someone wherever they go. But when you look closer at their relationships, many of them are superficial and merely acquaintances. Your friends, on the other hand, know each other’s idiosyncrasies, secrets…in other words, know the whole self.
The drawback to having fewer but deeper friendships is when the urge strikes you to go out for a party or a movie, your close friends may be too busy to hang out. This leaves you alone to go out for a quiet meal or a cup of coffee.
You may be expected to interact with your future colleagues, lest you come across as aloof. Short conversations will be your preference with your acquaintances, so learn the art of breaking away smoothly.
You’re Considered a Great Listener
Your acquaintances marvel at your ability to listen to their problems and provide solutions. Justin’s girlfriend is showing signs of indifference, perhaps breaking off the relationship. You suggest not jumping to conclusions because the girlfriend is deep into her Engineering finals. Things work out between Justin and his girlfriend. You’ve become Justin’s new best friend.
Similar to Justin’s story you don’t want to be cornered listening to your colleagues’ problems or simple chatter. Some people will take advantage of your willingness to listen. Politely tell them you have work to do.
Tell Her I’ll Call Back
Your mom is calling, but you don’t have time to get into a long conversation about your sister’s wedding plans. You love Mom. But you hate the phone. At least if feels that way at the moment. Introverts have an aversion to the phone, because there are no boundaries when you talk with someone over the phone, not like e-mail.
In the workplace, customer relations often develop through telephone conversation, followed by face-to-face interactions. You’ll have to push yourself to pick up the phone at times to make or answer a call…even if it’s Mom.
There Are Times You’d Rather Read
“Come on, put down that book,” your dorm mate says excitedly. A bunch of your classmates are going out to do something social. They’ve all agreed that they’ll let the wind take them where it may.
It’s not like you’re not adventurous; you’ve shown your wild side in the past. It’s just that you’ve had a long day and would like to read a great book and maybe start another. This is your alone time and how you recharge your batteries.
To fit in the organization for which you work, you may have to suck it up and go out to socialize with your colleagues, even the night before a workday. Do this sporadically to keep in good stead with your colleagues.
What does this mean to your job search?
Your preference for written communications will benefit you when you have to write résumés and cover letters, as well as your LinkedIn profile. Because you prefer to work alone, you’ll be a self-starter who doesn’t waste time while writing your promotional documents.
If parties aren’t your thing in college, this means you are more reflective than your extravert counterpart. You’ll organize your thoughts and stay on task. This doesn’t mean you should skip networking events or not connect in your community. These are social occasions that you must attend to.
Your penchant for deeper relationships can be a curse or a great help in your job search. It may be a curse if you avoid large crowds all together; or it might be a great help if you approach networking as an opportunity to better know the people who can be of mutual assistance. Instead of working the room like everyone advises, talk to two or three people at an event. That’s more your style.
People love others who listen to them. While at networking events, connecting in the community, and most importantly at an interview, your listening skills can come into play. Use one of your best introverted traits to connect with your networking partners and the interviewers.
Don’t see your preference for alone time as a fault. Introverts need time to recharge their batteries. But keep in mind that the job search calls for some outgoingness. In other words, you will have to call upon your extraverted traits. Get outside your comfort zone, as they say.
Your introversion is a gift, not something to dread.
Do yourself a favor and read Susan Cain’s bestselling book. You’ll be happy you did.