What work environment fits me best?

While there are many tangible measurements to look at during your job selections such as salary, size, ranking, etc., the most important deciding factor of whether you will enjoy your job or not is the company’s culture. As the work environment within a company is also a part of the company’s culture, you may want to have as many experiments as possible with different types of environments during your classes, club experience, volunteer activities, internships, and potentially shadowing a full-time employee in your interested industry.

A credible benchmark that you can compare yourselves to as an assessment for your work personality and corresponding work environment is from the psychologist John Holland’s 6 Types of Personality. These 6 types of work personality will each correspond to a type of desired work environment. However, you do not have to fit perfectly into 1 category. Instead, a person would almost always find himself/herself resonating with 2 or more types, which increases his/her flexibility when choosing a career and finding the most desired work environment.

The 6 types of work personalities are:

  1. Realistic – Prefers physical activities that require skill, strength, and coordination. Traits include genuine, stable, conforming, and practical. Examples include but not limited to architects, farmers, engineers.
  2. Investigative – Prefers working with theory and information, thinking, organizing, and understanding. Traits include: analytical, curious, and independent.  Examples include but not limited to lawyers, mathematicians, and professors.
  3. Artistic (The Creator) – Prefers creative, original, and unsystematic activities that allow creative expression. Traits include: imaginative, disorderly, idealistic, emotional, and impractical.  Examples include but not limited to artists, musicians, and writers.
  4. Social (Helper) – Prefers activities that involve helping, healing, or developing others.  Traits include cooperative, friendly, sociable, and understanding. Examples include but not limited to counselors, doctors, and teachers.
  5. Enterprising (The Persuader) – Prefers competitive environments, leadership, influence, selling, and status.  Traits include ambitious, domineering, energetic, and self-confident. Examples include but not limited to Manager, Marketing professionals, and Salespeople.
  6. Conventional (The Organizer) – Prefers precise, rule-regulated, orderly, and unambiguous activities.  Traits include conforming, efficient, practical, unimaginative, and inflexible. Examples include but not limited to accountants, clerks and editors.

Continous self-assessment and reflections will help you make your decisions and make necessary changes in the future. Therefore, the takeaway is to keep yourself available for potential changes and aware of your own work style, and you will eventually find the work environments that are most comfortable and fun for you. 

If you have further questions about work environments, please feel free to stop by the Smeal College of Business, Business Career Center in 114 Business Building to schedule an appointment with a career coach to have further discussions. 


Jd. “6 Job Personality and Work Environment Types.” Sources of Insight, 22 Feb. 2015, http://sourcesofinsight.com/6-personality-and-work-environment-types/.

By Helen Zheng
Helen Zheng