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“You’re such a J!” – Translating Career Counselor Chatter

“You’re such a J!” – Translating Career Counselor Chatter

EACE Blog contribution by Kelly Scott, Assistant Director of Career Development and Social Media Outreach at Northeastern University

you-are-such-a-jAs the summer heats up and students become sparse- fall planning ramps into high gear. Calendars are quickly filled with meetings that involve everything from brainstorming new programs to reviewing goals and pitching conference proposals (where due dates are fast approaching). It was during one of these meetings that I had an out of body experience and realized that if a non-career counselor walked into the room mid-convo, they’d have absolutely no idea what the heck we were saying. Here are a couple examples of conversations that you may overhear if you’re just starting out in the field, and what they mean to a “normal person”.


Career Counselor 1 (CC1): What if we did a program that includes VIPS and co-op reflection?!

Career Counselor 2 (CC2): That’s a great idea, do you think we should administer the Strong or the MBTI first? That may make the program richer.

CC1: Not a bad idea- let’s pick a program date. I’ll draft up an outline and get it to you by Friday. Also, do you want to meet next week to go over the details?

CC 2 [playfully laughing]: You’re such a J! I think we should flesh out the program idea more before creating an outline.

If you are new to the career counseling field, there are a few key things in that very brief conversation (loosely based on true events), that you would not understand.

VIPS: An acronym that stands for Values, Interests, Personality and Skills. Some offices have other variations of this, but it all comes down to the same thing. VIPS are used most often when working with a client that is struggling with major choice, career choice or wants to make a transition and doesn’t know what to do. I generally reference this when working with anyone that seems slightly lost or says a variation of “I don’t know what to do with my life”. The length of time I spend explaining what VIPS are and why they’re important varies based on the client’s needs and how much time we have.

Co-op: Stands for Cooperative Education. Almost all Northeastern University students opt-in to a co-op program where they work fulltime for 6 months up to 3 times throughout their college career. Many other schools have similar programs where an experiential education component is a requirement, but it may or may not be called co-op.

Strong: Slang for the Strong Interest Inventory. This inventory is based on psychologist John Holland’s codes. Sometimes we use this when helping a student figure out their VIPS (see above).

MBTI: Stands for Myers Briggs Type Indicator (higher education is filled with acronyms). It is one of the most widely used personality assessments and again, is used to help students define their VIPS.

However, in everyday career counselor world, we generally use it to describe each other. In the above example- Career Counselor 2 jokingly teases Career Counselor 1 for acting on their J tendencies (J stands for Judging). J’s like to be scheduled, cross things off lists, and in general “on time” means early. When you work with a bunch of people who are MBTI certified, you often overhear conversations that sound something like this:


CC1: What’s your type? I think you’re an ESFP.

CC2: Really?! No! I’m actually an I- I’m an ISFP. But my Step II results say I’m a more social I.  

CC1: Really?! Yeah, I guess that makes sense- you’re definitely a P though.

CC2: Oh yeah- you know it.

If you are MBTI certified, which you will most likely become if you’re sticking with this field, you’ll learn that you’re not supposed to say “I’m a *enter appropriate letter here*. Technically you have a preference for certain letters- which is how your type is defined, but in everyday conversation, career counselor to career counselor, the above conversation is quite common. If you’re a true career geek, like myself, you can try guessing celebrities- it is a really fun lunch activity (no, seriously, try it).

So if you’re new to the field, don’t fret, you’ll quickly pick up the local vernacular and soon enough you’ll have the pleasure of confidently speaking in acronyms and guessing which celebrity couples are not compatible based on their type. Welcome to the club.


Kelly Scott

Kelly Scott

Kelly Scott is a Career Advisor at Northeastern University Career Development and “blog master” for the Northeastern University Career Development blog, The Works. A self-proclaimed social media enthusiast and Gen Y, she likes experimenting with new technology to help clients define their personal online brand and enjoys reading and writing about workplace culture. Kelly graduated from Northeastern University with a BA in communication studies and a MS in college student development and counseling. Contact her via Twitter @kellydscott4 or LinkedIn.

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