“What contribution do you hope to make to our optometry program and to the optometric profession?” is a question you will most likely to be asked during the application process. How do you answer a question like this? More importantly, why do admissions officers ask this question? What are they trying to find out?
On SCCO’s supplemental application, the question is asked like this: “What is the most important contribution you hope to make to the SCCO family?” Customarily, answers to this question forecast what you hope to contribute as an optometry student with your time and talents: through student leadership, academic achievement, and student body camaraderie. You will answer the question about what you hope to contribute based on your track record, your history as a student. But, I want you to dig deeper… Just what DO you have to offer as a student to an optometry program? What are your strengths? What will you bring to the table? To provide a comprehensive answer with tangible examples for this question, I recommend you start by assessing your personality profile, which can be done by using an assessment respected by educators, the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator (MBTI).
The Myers-Briggs Type Indicator (MBTI) assessment, as described by this Wikipedia article, is a psychometric questionnaire designed to measure psychological preferences in how people perceive the world and make decisions. MBTI helps you learn how you perceive yourself relative to the world, and how you actualize this perception. Once you understand your strengths, you can articulate in tangible ways what you have to offer as both a student in a program and as an optometrist, a future member of the profession. Here is the flyer with the instructions to take the test (only 30 questions for the short test) and to view your own MBTI profile: Access Myers-Briggs Test* To take the test, you should answer the questions in a general way, with answers that apply in most circumstances. Once you know your MBTI profile, you can also use this link to read about your temperament type: https://www.personalitypage.com/html/portraits.html
Many of you know me as a public speaker, optometrist, an advocate for the profession, and an admissions adviser. My MBTI is an ENFJ (extrovert, intuitive, feeling, judging). Since you have a sense of who I am, I thought you’d like to see a snippet of my own MBTI profile, which I think correlates nicely with my current occupation:
ENFJs are people-focused individuals. They live in the world of people possibilities. More so than any other type, they have excellent people skills. They understand and care about people, and have a special talent for bringing out the best in others. ENFJ’s main interest in life is giving love, support, and a good time to other people. They are focused on understanding, supporting, and encouraging others. They make things happen for people, and get their best personal satisfaction from this.
Let’s say I was applying for a job as a counselor and speaker who would be hired to work with pre-optometry students. Imagine what a terrific asset this intrinsic part of my personality would be on an employment application?! It’s tangible evidence of how I function, how I am hardwired. This is what I want you to learn about yourself by understanding your own profile and then, to discuss in your personal essays and interview. It will give you real, tangible evidence of many qualities you possess but I can guarantee, have not thought of as uniquely yours. Examples might be: rational thinker, problem solver, compassionate, good at strategic planning, a people-person, able to persevere—the list goes on and on.
Click here for an infographic about MBTI profiles and how they migh correspond to various professions.
I love the study of human typology and have benefited from it in many ways, not only how I understand myself and my own behavior, but how I perceive others. It’s only when you understand your own personality can you then understand the inherent bias in your perception of yourself and your decision-making processes. Once you understand your own unique temperament, you begin to be aware of how you impact others. You learn to speculate about another’s personality type and adapt your communication style to relate better to your intended audience. Not only will you use this information in your personal essays to answer the question about what you will bring to the table, but it will help in the interview when asked this same question. You will speak with intention about your inherent skills and how you expect to apply them as an optometry student and as a doctor delivering patient care.
Rather than comparing yourself to others—which never works—why not find out what talents and abilities are inherently and uniquely yours? This is precisely why the “What will you bring to the table?” question gets asked: to find out if you have been contemplative about this process. Are you aware of, and can you articulate with real examples, the personal qualities you possess that make you good doctor-material? Do you understand yourself well enough to know what you will eventually contribute to the profession? If not, your MBTI profile is a good place to start this discovery process. It can be like mining for gold…
If you take the test, I’d love it if you made a comment and put your MBTI profile in the comment section—unless you would indulge me with a little about anything new you may have learned about yourself. I’d REALLY love to hear from you!
For more reading, here’s my favorite and very accessible book on the topic: Please Understand Me by David Keirsey and Marilyn Bates
Even Harry Potter uses the MTBI! Click here for a infographic with the MTBI temperaments of the Harry Potter characters. *Disclaimer: this is not an official test. To be official, the test must be administered by a person certified to administer the test. It’s another example of how the MBTI is recognized in the work place.
Here’s an article in Time Magazine that makes predictions about earning potential based on one’s MBTI profile. As you interpret the data, remember that the Bill Gates and Steve Jobs of the world are the NTs: the thinkers, strategizers and visionaries.
From the same Time Magazine article, here’s another terrific infographic with a links to the right about every MBTI profile type and how they function in the workplace: Time Magazine Info Graphic
Dr. Jane Ann Munroe, Director of Admissions for SCCO