Identifying Your Strengths & Unlocking Your Career Potential

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By Caroline LeKachman (NYU ’22), Wasserman Career Ambassador

Last Wednesday, I attended the kick-off meeting for the Diversity Internship and Career Preparation Program (DICP). DICP helps historically underrepresented NYU students with all aspects of their career development process through a series of workshops and one-on-one meetings with a designated career coach. In this first session, we got to hear from Teach For America (TFA) about identifying our strengths. 

Before the program, we took the 16 Personalities Test, which matches you with a personality type based on your answers to questions on four different dimensions: how you interact with the environment, where you direct your mental energy, how you cope with emotions, and your approach to work and planning. 

During the session, we had a chance to reflect on the strengths and weaknesses of our personality types. For example, I got the INTJ personality type, which stands for Introverted, Intuitive, Thinking, and Judging. This means that I am very rational and independent, but because of this, I can sometimes be dismissive of others’ emotions when they value feelings over facts. 

Our presenter, Kristina Zhang, Director of Recruitment & Innovation at TFA, raised an interesting point about the importance of recognizing our own strengths. She put the following quote on the screen: “Everybody is a genius. But if you judge a fish by its ability to climb a tree, it will live its whole life believing that it is stupid.” So often, we use other people’s strengths as a metric for how well we are doing in our work and daily lives, but if we know the things that we excel at, we can use those strengths to reflect on our performance in a more meaningful and productive way. On the flip side, it is also helpful to know when these strengths might become weaknesses when in excess. 

During the second half of the session, we pivoted from thinking about just our own strengths to considering how our personality types might fit in with others. We then entered break out rooms to discuss how our strengths and weaknesses complemented and clashed with each other. For example, since I tend to be more rational and concrete, it could be beneficial to have another person on my team with a more creative personality like an INFP. 

This discussion reminded me that there is no one type of intern, leader, or whatever your role title is. Everyone has their own unique strengths and weaknesses, and we can complement one another to create a whole that’s larger than the sum of its parts. Remember that next time you are doubting yourself in your role or are considering applying to one you think is outside your comfort zone! Try taking a look at your current role description and reflecting how your strengths might map to different aspects of your role. This approach is also a great idea when going for new opportunities —  just think about how many times you’ve gotten the common interview question about your strengths and weaknesses during an interview.

Overall, this session was a great experience to learn more about myself and how I work with others. I’d highly recommend taking the 16 Personalities Test to learn more about your own personality and emailing to find out more about DICP if you’re looking to get involved in future years.