As young adults entering the corporate sphere, we have all developed our own detailed scenarios or expectations about the day we enter the corporate world, anticipating a lifetime of shining success and purpose driven conversations. However, the realities of what we often encounter are far from our vivid imaginations.
In my own corporate fantasy, I imagined myself sitting across partners, directors and other mentors on board room tables, engaging in robust conversations about how they intend to invest in my growth as an associate at a reputable firm. I imagined myself negotiating the journey as a decisive and innovative young Chartered Accountant. In this dream, I had my fellow colleagues in the palm of my hands with my wit and charm
Daydreaming from my seat in the library where I studied for final CTA exams, I was on the verge of becoming my dream career woman. Working would be a breeze, and of course, I was going to be a successful career woman with a lot of money. Laugh out loud. To my surprise, so far, the story is a little more complicated than that and it has taken multiple bursts to my bubble in order for me to arrange this lovely bouquet of realities for your reading enjoyment.
Firstly; people are a little more complex than we ever really paid attention to in varsity. The different types of people you work with all have different personalities, backgrounds and experiences that allow them to interpret you and the things you do and say differently. It then becomes important to be aware of the unconscious biases people have towards you for various reasons including your gender, your sexuality, your race, the way you speak – and the list could go on. This is especially difficult to overcome if that person is your boss or manager or the person who oversees your growth in the company and is meant to be “investing in your potential”. And the issue with unconscious biases is that we all have them and we are very rarely aware of when we are allowing them to make decisions that affect the careers of the recipients of our bias.
Secondly, the corporate environment is intimidating and highly competitive. There will be a magnitude of instances where your confidence will take a knock, but actively engage and learn while ensuring your confidence develops RESILIENCE. Be able to defend your work, because you will not always get a round of applause for pouring your heart and soul into it.
Thirdly, it will be difficult to keep a brave face every day, but focus on a good, positive and attractive energy. This was a big struggle of mine. However, it might be constructive to consider a set of healthy behaviours that will keep you feeling positive and excited even when you don’t feel like it. People around you feed off your energy, make sure you are aware of how often you complain and grumble. It will repel people from you, and trust me, there will be a lot to complain about. Taking active steps in reflection and self-improvement assists in the discomfort of the growing pains.
The journey is still a new one for me and I discover new things every day, but with the experience I have gathered in my short term in corporate, I can tell you that corporate will grow you as a person if you allow it to. Be headstrong, if you take the days when you mess up too seriously and personally it can break you. By the wise words of Olivia Pope, “If it doesn’t work, it doesn’t work, but you have to try. Because if you try, if you leap and you try, and it doesn’t work, it’s not on you.” Here’s to you.