I have now been working in Corporate America for nine months and there is so much I have learned in such a short time! Before this job I had always worked with friends, family, and places where it was more casual. I am not going to lie, it was an adjustment going from casual to professional. I don’t know many people my age that work in a corporate settings and although one of my brothers does, he has always had that polished, professional personality that was just meant to be some type of big guy in the corner office. When I interviewed for my position I remember sending a picture of my colorful interview outfit to my brother asking if it was okay. His response… “I would stay with wearing black and white”, I just thought that was so boring!
“No thank you, I’ll stay with my tasteful, colorful outfit” (I declared in my head).
When I got to my future office building I immediately regretted my outfit choice. It ended up turning out great and I got the job, however, from then on I stuck to black, white, blue, maybe a dark shade of green, and every once in a while a pop of color. If you are new to corporate here are some of the things I learned and maybe it will help you too.
- It’s nothing personal, it’s just business. I never realized how “sugar coated” my life was until people were correcting my work and not constantly telling me what I did right, but never missing a beat when I did something wrong. At first it was hard. Where was the positive reinforcement, and why am I not getting recognized more? Did I really mess up that bad? No, I was not that awful of an employee. Yes, I messed up, but in corporate, one mess up could cost a lot. Luckily I’m not in a position where that is even in my power but I now understand the importance of correction and knowing that it’s not an attack on my character, but simply a helping hand towards improving my work ethic. When I first started I didn’t understand this but as time has gone on, I have seen the importance of direct and “non-sugar coated” correction.
- Work, and friendship. If you are anything like me then you probably thrive in an environment where you like the people you work with. It is true, I love the people I get to work with, but it is important to know when to draw the line between your personal friendship and your work relationship. I had to learn that you can be friendly with everyone, but it needs to be business first, friendship later. When you put friendship above your business it can make for some sticky situations if you have a problem with someone because they are more likely to take it personally because that is the type of relationship you have cultivated.
- Learn to learn. I know that opening statement is sort of strange so let me explain. Since I had never been around any type of corporate setting there was a lot I needed to learn. For example, when I started I had serious “phone phobia”. I didn’t like to talk on the phone, didn’t know how to speak professionally, and I had a hard time getting out of my comfort zone. These past 9 months have taught me that if I don’t know how to do something, then I need to learn how. If I were to refuse to learn then I probably wouldn’t still be working here since 50% of my day is doing things I have literally never done before. In the process of doing this, my confidence and adaptability have really improved and I am so glad I pushed myself.
So many of us 20-something-year-olds are honestly afraid of having a big-kid job because it is that fear of the unknown. But, I want to tell you that the unknown may be the best thing for you and pushing yourself will help you more than you know. You can’t grow without some growing pains.
Photography By Naomi Ledford Photography
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