Career advice. | INFJ Forum


Jan 16, 2021

I am a 28 year old INFJ who lives in Kenosha, Wisconsin and I would like to share my story with all of you with the hopes of being able to understand myself a little better and to see if there is anyone else out there that's been struggling as much as me.

I was recently fired from my job at the airport where I was supervisor and I have been thinking a lot about potential career paths, but before we jump into that I'd like to share a little more about me. My first job ever was working as a dock laborer in Door County and I've pursued numerous other blue collar jobs since then. I've worked as a Electrician's Apprentice, Pipe layer and as a Line Service Technician. Most of these jobs have turned me into an anxiety filled mess with anger issues and I've never really found them fulfilling which encouraged me to go back to school' but I've never completed any of my degrees.

I've recently became interested in photography and I have been using it as an outlet to satisfy my curiosity about the world of Aviation. I have had a strong interest in Aviation since I was a small boy which I believe was partly due to my father being a Pilot and an A&P mechanic. I have thought long and hard about pursuing a career as an A&P but I am not sure if this a good idea because I am not very mechanically inclined. It seems foolish to pursue something just because you think its cool but It often seems like that is what has given me an edge in my professional life so far. When I was a Line Tech at the airport I always had an edge over some of my coworkers because I knew more about the aircraft then they did due to my strong interest in this field, but it often seemed what I liked the most was just being around the planes and the rest was always just work.

I have recently entertained the idea of going to school for graphic design. I used to love to draw as a kid and I have always had a creative mind. I am wondering if this is a good career to go into and if anyone here has any advice on going into this field it would be very helpful.

Thanks for reading!
First, I think most of us have struggled at times with the very situation you find yourself. It looks like you have had several different types of jobs and interests. Maybe it would be more helpful rather than to look at jobs or careers, but identify the situations you enjoyed being in. I found myself doing that and was able to identify common threads of situations that were satisfying. Ironically, I also found that by looking at situations that I didn't like (and then use that information and turn it around), I was able to develop a profile of situations that brought my strengths out more clearly and made me more aware of weaknesses I had that I should avoid. I found it an empowering process to use for next steps. I wish you the best!
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I work in the arts, so I want to think about what to say to you regarding these possibilities. I'll come back, OK? Keep in touch.
So, greeting @Ruger (if you are still around),

...Dock laborer, numerous other blue collar jobs, electrician's apprentice, pipe layer, and as a Line Service Technician. Most of these jobs have turned me into an anxiety filled mess with anger issues and I've never really found them fulfilling
I am not very mechanically inclined

This all sounds like the wrong path for you. This is also where "knowing thyself" and personality and type theory (like MBTI) shine. If you're not details-oriented or mechanically and technically inclined, you're never going to find mechanical jobs fulfilling. If your have a creative mind, you're not going to find jobs like "dock laborer" fulfilling either because while labor is a worthy job, and doing hard physical work is fulfilling, your mind will always be bored.

I've recently became interested in photography and I have been using it as an outlet to satisfy my curiosity about the world of Aviation.

Considering you are creative, you are interested in aviation, and you have a new interest in photography, a field that may interest you is travel photography. Another good route could be vehicle photography. Also, I'm not sure you know that some pilots rent time in their planes for photographers to do aerial photography. Yet another avenue could be toy photography that focuses on planes. This may seem absurd, but there is a niche for this and some of the photographers are well known, particularly Star Wars photographers. You won't necessarily make a living at some of these niche photography markets like vehicle and toy photography, but you could have a career in them, show and sell your work, have guest spots on podcasts, and get invited to conventions.
Travel photography can be lucrative. All could be fulfilling.

I have recently entertained the idea of going to school for graphic design. I used to love to draw as a kid and I have always had a creative mind. I am wondering if this is a good career to go into and if anyone here has any advice on going into this field it would be very helpful.

There are different avenues to take in art and design. Usually, the greater the creativity, the higher the risk. When economies tank, arts are the first to get cut. If you're looking for an edgy, inspiring career as a freelance designer, or in a small design house you will live with greater financial risk. If you become a designer for a big corporation, and design icons for their apps and so forth, you could have a safe office job, earn a good salary, have health care and paid vacations, etc, but your job won't be as exciting or creative.

I've never completed any of my degrees.

What worries me about you is that your interest doesn't seem to hold on one thing for very long and you lack longevity with your jobs.

Don't listen to anyone who says there are no jobs in the arts and you can't have a career or make a good living in the arts. You can! There are thousands of jobs in the arts, including many options for photography and graphic design. The financial uncertainty that can come with the arts is only a slice of the struggles. In most careers there is a choice to be married to work, or leave work at your desk when you go home. With the arts, your career is part of you and your life. There is no difference. Everything you do, feel, and experience will influence your work. Art is a lifestyle choice, not just a career. Unlike many other jobs, being an artist (of any medium) is more deeply connected to who you are, so low points will hit you harder. You'll need to learn to navigate those low points, rejection, criticism, low self esteem, etc. You'll also have to choose a life partner who understands that having time alone to be creative is part of who you are. Networking, which means maintaining social media and a social life (which can be a drain for introverts) are also necessary. Photography may be a great way to stay connected to other parts of your life while being creative, because you can always take photos of your partner, children, dog, your daily life, your garden, etc, as your life changes with age.

If you have design and drawing skills, and love vehicles, you may want to look into a niche like designing vehicles for video games. Gaming is an extremely competitive field, but one of the biggest fields that pays in the arts.

I worry that you'll get eyeball deep into the arts and change your mind again because it isn't working and you'll jump to something else. An arts career probably won't work out immediately. It takes time to develop your talent and style, and to network and get jobs. If you are not serious about this and willing to sacrifice for it, and struggle with it, the arts aren't for you. I think a great idea for you right now is to watch Youtube, visit websites, study great photographers/designers from the past, and participate in all the free and low cost tutorials across the Internet so you gain skill without spending more money going back to school. If, after a year of investing in learning about being a better designer or photographer, you think you should go to school for it, start looking then. Get an IG account and post your work and progress. Show it off to your friends. And keep working on a career while you... maybe...make money another way.

I have a travel photographer friend whose entire life is an adventure. He owns nothing except the clothes on his back and his equipment, he lives on the road, and he travels the world with whatever friends are willing to keep up with his adventures. He seems to live a deeply fulfilling life. He is poor. He doesn't have health insurance or a 401K. He is happy. His work is beautiful, daring, and fun. Having a fulfilling life is not about safety and it is not about money, but don't fool yourself by romanticizing the arts to the point where you forget these things can matter and you suffer for it.
Following this thread has reminded me of another 28-year old that I knew many, many years ago---me. I struggled with many of the issues brought up here. I had many interests, wasn’t sure how to sort through them, and wondered if this was going to be a life-long problem for me.

In looking back now, I can see some ways that I was able to move forward. Of course, we are all different, and my ways may be very different than others. But I offer them as strategies to consider:

I realized that I could not incorporate all of these interests into a single job and, eventually, a career. Several of them could be placed in the category of a vocation—these included gifts, abilities, passions, and broader life purpose.

It took time and action, even if they were imperfect, to prioritize interests into a career or vocation. I also began to reveal more of myself to close friends and often asked for their advice. I started keeping a journal of achievements. This helped me sort out the aspects that created positive energy.

As I progressed through my career and life outside of work, I began to focus on how many gifts as an INFJ to be used to serve others. That created a sense of purpose beyond myself.

As an INFJ, I trusted my intuition often and increased my self-awareness in a way that guided decisions. For example, I purposely turned down a work promotion to a job in another area because it didn’t fit for me. That took some courage that others couldn’t understand. But I knew what was best for me.It turned out that it enabled me to travel worldwide for many years. That was more important to me at that point in my life than financial gain.

In summary, we do survive. Using the INFJ talent that we have and making choices on how it influences our decision-making is both the challenge and the benefit.

I hope this is helpful to others who may be questioning their future direction.
I've been giving this some more thought. I checked online and the Bureau of Labor Statistics and the average amount of job changes between the ages of 18-50 is 12. That's consistent what why my career was. I would say 'don't panic' if you don't know what you don't know. It is easy for me to say at my age, but in retrospect, it is good advice.

A couple of things to consider:

1) Only lookout for the next 12-18 months to see what interests you and go explore it.
2) Google an article titled, "What is Job Crafting and Why Does it Matter?" It's a strategy that most people don't naturally think about, but I have found it to be true. In some jobs, there is more of an opportunity to shape the job to fit you, vs. the other way around. Granted, in entry-level positions that may not be as true, but if you stick with it and raise your self-awareness of what your skills and interests tell you, I think it might be helpful.
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