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First Year Students Decipher Personality Types for Roommate Pairing, Career Choice

Tiffany Waddell
Assistant Director for Career Development Tiffany Waddell leads an MBTI debrief session, helping first year students gain insight into their assessment results.

Since the early 1980s, incoming Davidson students have taken the Myers-Briggs Personality Type Indicator (MBTI) assessment as a tool for roommate pairing. In the past two years, the MBTI has been accompanied by debrief workshops sponsored by the Residence Life Office (RLO) and the Center for Career Development.

"We have always worked with RLO on Myers-Briggs, because we both use it in different ways," said Associate Director of the Center for Career Development Jamie Johnson. "Last year we discussed the idea to reach out to first year students with workshops, and 140 students signed up." This year, that number has increased to 164 thus far.

The MBTI consists of four segments: extravert-introvert, sensing-intuiting, feeling-thinking and judging-perceiving. The career center uses these segments to help students think about who they are and what they want to do after Davidson. "Students can begin to develop an ‘ideal' career checklist and language for describing their career choices," said Johnson.

While RLO initially uses the MBTI to group potential roommate pairs, they also hope that students can benefit from knowing their results after they move into the Davidson community. Associate Dean of Students and Director of Residence Life Jason Shaffer said, "With the workshops, students can interpret their results to know how they are and how they interact with other personality types."

The workshops, led by career center staff, guide students through the four personality segments. The workshops also debunk common misconceptions about personality types, such as that introversion always correlates to shyness, and extraversion always correlates to an outgoing demeanor.

Johnson enjoys leading students through an exercise that requires them to write with their non-dominant hand. "When you write with your non-dominant hand, you struggle and don't write as well as you could with your dominant hand. I compare this to trying to force yourself into a career that doesn't align with your personality type," explained Johnson.

The MBTI debriefs formerly were part of the first year Davidson 101 session hosted by the Center for Career Development, but the center later shifted the emphasis in the Davidson 101 session to how students could connect to the office in more directly career-related ways.

"The MBTI debrief workshops have become a way for first year students to engage with the office in a fun way outside of Davidson 101," said Johnson.

Because of the success of the past two years, the Center for Career Development and RLO plan to continue to offer biannually the MBTI debrief workshops to first year students.