Former Wall Street Lawyer Stands Up for Introverts, Offers Job Advice

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A former corporate lawyer who is an introvert is standing up for others like her in a new book called Quiet: the Power of Introverts in a World that Can’t Stop Talking.

Susan Cain says she realized she was in the wrong field when her former law school buddies spoke with admiration and jealousy about a former classmate arguing cases before the U.S. Supreme Court. Cain wasn’t jealous because she “didn’t aspire to the accolades of lawyering,” she wrote for Psychology Today. Instead, she admired college classmates who became writers or psychologists.

NPR and Reuters report on Cain’s new book and its theories, while Cain’s article in Psychology Today offers her advice to introverts on finding the right career.

Cain asserts that extraversion became increasingly valued in American culture with the rise of big business at the turn of the century. “Suddenly what was admired was to be magnetic and charismatic,” she tells NPR.

Introverts, on the other hand, are less often groomed for leadership positions and expected to work in offices set up for group interaction rather than privacy. Introversion is thought to be “a second-class personality trait, somewhere between a disappointment and a pathology,” she asserts.

Cain says these questions can help you find the right career: What careers inspire admiration or envy? When you were a child, what did you want to be when you grew up, and what inspired that choice? What kind of unpaid or unnecessary work do you like to do? When you think about your purpose in life, is there anything so inspiring that it makes you cry?

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