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Just an Introvert, Livin' in an Extroverted World

January 11, 2015

Simbarashe Runyowa ’15

Officially, I am in the final few months of my college career! A lot has happened over the past four years, and right now I am looking ahead to the future. I decided recently that after graduation, I would like to take a break from school before going to graduate school. This decision meant that my immediate future is going to be filled with uncertainty. The good news is, I can use the time (I hope to take a year off) to do WHATEVER I WANT TO WITH MY LIFE. This is both an exciting and a terrifying situation to be in, depending on how you look at it. On the one hand, it's opened up a plethora of possibilities, and on the other, so much anxiety! But I am doing my best to prepare myself for life after Oberlin.

My final winter term project is participating in the Oberlin Business Scholars Program. For the month of January, myself and ten other students will be traveling to Cleveland, San Francisco and New York to meet with alumni who work in various fields in the business sector. We will be visiting investment banks, consulting firms, start ups in Silicon Valley and everything in between. The Business Scholars program was started to help Oberlin students gain the necessary skills and contacts to be successful in the business world owing to the absence of a business school.

Before joining the program, I was not entirely sure of my intentions. Part of it was I was wanting to improve my professional skills, and the other piece was I wanted to establish a network and connections that could point me in the right direction after graduation. What I did not expect, however, was the intense amount of personal growth that I would undergo in such a short amount of time.

The first week of the program takes place in Oberlin. Each day, we have intense sessions on team building, which include self-presentation, public speaking, crash courses on finance, networking skills training, and a whole host of other exercises geared toward refining us as young professionals and people. One of the most enlightening sessions that I had was the Myers-Briggs session we had with Donna Russell from the Oberlin Career Center. As it turns out, I am the only introvert in the group of 11 scholars! I have always known that I was naturally introverted, but seeing a comprehensive analysis of my personality type (INTP) broken down really helped me to understand myself and how I interact with others on a deeper level. According to the Myers-Briggs test, my personality might conform to the following traits:

I - Introverted - tend to relate easily to the inner world of ideas and impressions
N - Intuition - tend to use imagination to see new possibilities and insights
T - Thinking - tend to base decisions on objective analysis and logic
P - tend to be more spontaneous and flexible

I would say that, by and large, I agree with most of these things. The test is eerily accurate about many of my personality traits. Reading through my Myers Briggs analysis helped to expose my strengths as well as some of the things I need to work on. One thing that Donna did point out about introverts was that we are not necessarily shy people. For instance, even though I am introverted, I am very inclined towards public speaking and performing on stage, which seems kind of counterintuitive. As it turns out, the difference between introverts and extroverts really lies in how they cope with energy. Extroverts get their energy from social interaction, while introverts have their energy depleted by social interaction, and the only way for them to recover is through being alone, with their thoughts, for an extended period of time. Something which extroverted people don't always understand!

As the only introvert of the group, I'm going to have a lot to learn from my extroverted peers, and hopefully, they will have some things to teach me, and by the end of the month I hope to have absorbed some of their extroverted qualities. I'll keep you updated as to how that turns out!

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