Things I Learned from the Corporate World

By Tara Cabullo, Brighterlife.com.ph

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Forbes Magazine recently published an interesting article that said that if “millenials” (or those born between in the 1980s to early 2000s) were to have their way, the world of 9-5 jobs just might see an end.

Where a slow climb in a company was once the accepted career path, these days it is more about juggling multiple positions and careers rather than steady growth.

As a millennial born when Steve Jobs and Bill Gates were at the cusp of their technological breakthroughs, I couldn’t help but agree with what the report on Millenial Branding stated regarding the preferences of this age group: it’s about flexible labor, social entrepreneurship, and cultural fit, among others. At the same time, I also can’t help but wax nostalgic about the lessons I’ve learned in the backbreaking world of well-structured emails, hierarchies, and processes – that is, the corporate world.

For starters: wear an appropriate pair of shoes. Always have your dress shoes within reach. Office shoes for women should always have a slight heel. While meetings for freelancers now take place at posh hotels and classy restaurants, open-toe sandals and flats are sure to attract unpleasant stares and possibly unfavorable judgements.

Have a good command of business language. Being exposed to top management and industry experts can be overwhelming. But it can also be very educational. It’s useful to pick up how they speak, as you can later on inject their language to your own emails and speeches – as appropriate, of course. The most effective way to communicate is to talk their language.

Respect for other people’s time. It’s unfortunate when some young people decide to reschedule a meeting, 15 minutes after the agreed time. They do not consider the effect of their decisions, nor do they realize how such a seemingly minor act can cause significant changes. Having a lot on your plate does not necesarilly give you the excuse to take other people’s time for granted, nor does it allow you to be a fast and furious driver when you’re on your way to a meeting with them.
Make an effort to be on time all the time, and develop the habit until it starts to come naturally to you. If you think you’re going to be late for a meeting, always inform the other party. Always. Otherwise, schedule it at a later time when you know you can be absolutely on time.

Follow rules, create some, and learn which ones to break. Being a member of a company with high standards forces one to adhere to several rules and standards, instead of settling for “pwede na yan.” This is something I have experienced myself, and admittedly, some days I’m guilty of working my way around a hard task with results that beat the deadline but do not meet the standards. The will to maintain integrity should always win. Rememberthat you’re representing a brand, and moreover, your work also says a lot about your efficiency and creativity.

You won’t always get what you want. When I was 20, a hopeful fresh graduate, I had this illusion that I will always get my way: from the tasks that I will do to the articles I will write. On top of that, my boss will always be happy with my outputs. What can I say? I was a clueless little girl, and my colleagues can attest to that.

It can take a while for an ambitious young one to realize that such illusions are exactly just that: illusions. Six years later, I am desensitized to tasks which I used to think were worse than cleaning the toilet bowl (trust me, there are tasks that you’d rather not do). Hey, it’s not called for nothing, right?

Appreciating processes. The problem with the creative mind is that it is rarely logical. I’ve always been the creative type, but it seems the corporate world has made me into a left-brain, much to my surprise. But as you gain years of experience, logic truly helps; and so does knowing the roadblocks and how to handle them.

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.

Finding a mentor. I’ve been blessed to have been under the tutelage of several excellent mentors since I started in my job four years ago. While this is still possible in an unstructured environment, there are not as many opportunities.

Making a decision. There will be times that you won’t have access to your boss or your boss’ boss, and time constraints will push you to make a decision. It’s scary and it’s nerve-wracking, but finding the courage to do this definitely has rewards.

Learn who trust and be discerning. Episode 2 of the series Suits illustrated this best when Mike tasked George with filing the patent and the patent wasn’t filed – causing a competing company to obtain it. Trust is a big issue in the corporate world and is a good place to learn who to trust and who not to.

The corporate world will teach you to be resourceful. When it seems you have no hour to squeeze a jog or do some sun salutations, you will find a way to make it happen – inside or outside the building.

The corporate world will teach you to value time. A minimum of eight hours of your day is dedicated to work will push you to make sure that the 16 left are spent to your liking. That means getting all the work done in eight hours or less.

The corporate world will challenge your spirit, your integrity, and your faith. But it is also one of the best places to learn and cultivate all those.


Those are just some of the lessons I’ve learned since becoming part of the corporate world. It wasn’t without challenges, but it sure wasn’t without rewards as well.

Image via The Classy Cubicle

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