Six months in my job in “Corporate America”, and I can reassure you that I don’t know it all, and I probably never will. What I can reassure you is that I’ve learned a lot. I’ve learned that politics do in fact exist everywhere but I’ve also learned the powerful voice a corporation can have in changing the world for the better. I’ve learned how incredible it is to work on a global team but I’ve also learned how hard it can be to get something done.
Out of everything I’ve learned in such a short amount of time, I came up with five tips to surviving your first six months in Corporate America.
Tip #1: If you would wear that out with your friends, don’t wear it to work.
It’s really easy to want to look “OMG SUPER CUTE!” on your first day, but there are about a thousand and six ways to do that while still being completely appropriate. If you look in the mirror and have to ask yourself, “is this appropriate?” then don’t wear it.
For the first few weeks, until you get comfortable with your company’s culture, dress your best. Your skirt should never be shorter than your fingertips, your blouse should never expose your chest, and your heels shouldn’t be the ones you typically save for Friday nights.
Tip #2: Know Your Role
If your manager is not making your role clear from Day 1, set up a meeting with him or her to go over expectations, responsibilities, and a development plan. Some managers have never managed a millennial before, or anyone young for that matter, so make sure you take the initiative to ask for these things.
Despite working in Corporate America, your role should be flexible – if you understand the in’s and out’s of your role you can work with your manager to continually grow with it instead of just checking off your to-do list each day.
Tip #3: Drink From the Fire Hose and Be A Listener
There is so, so, so much to learn – especially if this is your first job. Some days will feel like you’re drinking from the fire hose, and that’s totally okay. As you walk out of each meeting or end each day, jot down your three key-takeaways. Additionally, just try and listen. Take in as much as you can and constantly keep your ears open. You should be contributing vocally, but spend your first few months taking in as much information as you can.
Tip #4: Memorize and Use the Org Chart
Knowing who the top-level executives are is more beneficial than you know so check out your organizational chart and study it. Additionally, before you go to a meeting, always look up the person or people you are meeting with. Doing so will help connect the dots on where they sit on the org chart, who they report to, and how they align with your team.
Tip #5: Ask for Feedback
It’s really easy to walk into your first job and think you know everything. Trust me. But there is so much learning “to be had” and you do not know everything (unfortunately). Continually ask for feedback when it’s necessary and have candid conversations with your manager so he or she is comfortable giving you feedback and you are even more comfortable receiving it. Not every conversation will be a walk in the park, but showing you are eager to grow and develop through constructive feedback will speak miles.
Working in Corporate America means you are probably going to be “just a number”. By doing the small things, like asking for feedback, sets you a part from a lot of employees and can help you jump the ladder quicker.