The Things I Learned from the Corporate World

... or in defense of the so called cube dwellers.

I've been in the world of time ins, polite emails and 8 AM meetings for six years now and while most of the time, I fall silent at the seemingly accusatory tone of the question "You have a day job?," most times, I don't feel like defending my day job {all the more, a job in a conservative industry}in order to save myself some energy. But when lately, I've been exposed to many a freelancer and youngins who scoff at the idea of being time-bound, over time, dealing with various sorts of comedic and stressful things, having to report to not just one boss, being at the bottom of the food chain --- I couldn't help but think --- and the corporate world is where we learn so many valuable lessons, ones that will help you advance in career and in life. Then again, maybe the corporate world bashing is another concept of Hollywood where one should always quit her job and "follow her heart."

Disclaimer: I am not generalizing anyone into anything into this post. Plus I'm not saying these things can't be learned elsewhere. Thank you. :)

So maybe it's not always the way to go, but I owe it to such kind of life to be grateful for all the things I've learned. And here, I'd like to share them with you.

1. Never wear slippers / inappropriate footwear. The thing with being your own boss {ergo, freelancing, or building your own business, again, no sweeping generalizations} is that one tends to forget dress codes, hence coming to meetings with the client {who is of course, a corporate person} and wearing something out of the I-work-from-home wardrobe. Rule of thumb is to always dress for the venue --- cos there's always the danger of one not being let in.

2. A good command of the language. One of the best things I learned from writing circulars, memos, business and sometimes apologetic emails is that I'd have to keep a professional voice, with a hint of personality, all the time. Not much situations call for such so I thank my job for this lesson.

3. Respect of mutual time.  Being exposed to a lot of people from various departments and especially top management can mean really turning into a fast and furious driver when you're on a way to a meeting with one. Gathering that skill of being on time, one begins to make it a habit of being always, always on time for meetings. This is why it can be unfortunate when some youngins do not realize the gravity of the situation when they change their minds an fifteen minutes after the scheduled meeting. If you think you'll be late for a meeting, always, always inform the other party, or schedule it in the afternoon.

On a normal day, this is how I look like.

4. If you're a company looking to do business with another business --- don't bully your way in. I was once tricked into a presentation meeting of a freelance man whose services I've respectfully declined because I didn't have any use {to be honest} of. I told them I'll be referring them to friends or colleagues who could need them. They sent me humongous files everyday in my work inbox. :s

5. Follow rules, create some of them, learn which ones to break. Being a member of a company with high standards forces one {in this case, that would be me} to adhere to several rules and standards whereas one could just be "pwede na yan" in some events, or instances. Some days, I'm guilty of working my way around a hard task in less than standard manner {for fear of deadlines} but the will to keep integrity always wins -- especially, if you're representing a brand.

6. You don't always get what you want. When I was 20, a fresh graduate and very hopeful, I had this idea in my head that I'd always be getting the tasks I want to do, articles I wanted to write and that my boss will always be happy with my outputs. Of course, it takes a lot of patience to accept and take risks with youngsters {I was once a clueless little girl, as affirmed by my colleagues} --- but now, after six years, I am desensitized to getting tasks I'd rather clean the toilet bowl over {trust me, there are tasks you'd rather not do} and realized that it's not called work for nothing.

7. The corporate world will challenge your spirit, your integrity and your faith. It is perhaps the best place to learn all those above.

8. The corporate world will teach you to be resourceful. When you've no hour to squeeze a jog, or do some sun salutations, you will find a way to make it real. Inside the building or not.

9. The corporate world will teach you the value of your time. Eight hours minimum that you cannot control means you will fight your hardest to have control of the 16 left. By fight, I mean having all the work done in eight hours or less.

10. Process. The problem with the creative mind is that it is rarely logical. I can't believe the corporate world has made me into a left-brain --- but as you move towards years of experience, it helps to know the roadblocks and how to approach them.

Left vs. Right by Mercedes Benz

11. Respect for Authority. What makes a good disciple of any faith and a good citizen of any country is respect for authority. The corporate jungle is a good ground for practice as you meet and understand that just because you can't see the leader, s/he isn't doing anything. Sometimes, a leader works quietly to lay the groundwork of a long term plan, for sustainable growth and overall success. Yes, really.

12. Mentoring. I've been blessed to have met numerous mentors since I've been in my job four years ago and these are the things that are hard to come by {though they still do} in an unstructured environment.

13. Make a decision. There will be times that you won't have access to your boss, or your boss' boss, and that you have such little time frame you have to make a decision. It's scary and it's nerve-wracking but it feels nice after.

14. Trust your people with the job and be discerning with other people who will "do something for you. " Episode 2 of Suits best illustrated this when Mike gave George his job of filing the patent and the patent wasn't filed, resulting to some other company having it instead. Trust is a big issue in the corporate world and where else best to learn who to trust and who not to?

What have you learned so far from the corporate world?