Friday, September 14, 2012

Four Co's of Working in a Corporation

Epic Corporate Headquarters, Madison, WI
Walking to the front edge of the stage, I take a peek down at my notes before looking out at the workshop crowd. Three hundred healthcare IT professionals smile back as the presentation theme music rolls out with the classic rock guitar lead from Money for Nothing.






Five great questions of life: Life * Love * Learning * Labor * Leadership

Labor: How Will I Make a Living?

Four Co's of Working in a Corporation

By Evan Nehring

How did I get here?
 
Walking to the front edge of the stage, I take a peek down at my notes before looking out at the workshop crowd. Three hundred healthcare IT professionals smile back as the presentation theme music rolls out with the classic rock guitar lead from Money for Nothing.
 
“Good afternoon, my name’s Evan, and I’m a five year veteran of Epic go-lives and optimization. I’m going to show you a very accessible way to keep organizational workflows available to your users.”
 
Hours earlier, my co-presenter, Tristan, had wheeled his Honda Civic to the right as an orange-vested attendant pointed us to the designated parking area. We followed hundreds of vehicles like a line of ants into the underground parking structure at the Epic corporate campus outside Madison, Wisconsin.

Epic Corporate Headquarters, Verona, WI
 
Thousands of software geeks streamed up the parking ramp stairway to the towering Epicenter auditorium at the heart of the corporate campus.
 
How did I get here? It’s a question I’ve asked over and over as I’ve found myself making a living in adventurous new ways. Then I wonder, who’s really suited for a career in corporate America?
 

1. The competitive

I work for the largest corporation in my county. There are opportunities to move from rookie to veteran to team lead to manager to director to executive. It feels like salmon swimming upstream, fighting the waterfalls and racing to the top. We see it happen as the years go by. A coworker recently got a promotion after 32 internal interviews in 6 years. Others wait longer. If you can’t handle watching the years go by, do something else.

Salmon leaping up waterfall
 

2. The collaborative

Corporations are multi-departmental organisms. The obvious advantages offered by their size are offset by the disadvantages of bureaucratic clunkiness. Committees meet monthly to approve changes. Budget cycles are annual. Some policies are more rigid than others. Completing projects means working with accounting, IT, HR, management, facility, reception, operations…and many, many more! It can be very powerful, but if you don’t like group projects, do something else.

Epic Corporate Headquarters, Verona, WI

3. The collective

Working in a corporation is similar to going to high school or college. You get the full sweep of personalities, ambition levels, skill sets, morals, hobbies, skin colors, worldviews, and quirks. Yes, it can be very similar to episodes of The Office. My wife worked for many years in a small insurance office. She found the move back to a large corporation very refreshing. It’s definitely social!

The Office
 

4. The combative

It’s hard to write people off as irrelevant to your job when they work for the same company. As Anakin from Star Wars put it, sometimes “aggressive negotiations” are involved. There’s a balance of resolve and compromise needed to coexist in the corporation. People skills are a very big deal. Even though some departments don’t place high value on hiring for people skills, they are still a big deal.

By Official Star Wars Blog (Battle of the Heroes) [CC-BY-2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0)], via Wikimedia Commons
 
Your direct upline will probably have more to do with your happiness in your corporate job than anything else. Inside info is worth an awful lot if you can get it.
 
Competition, collaboration, collectivism, combat: all of these are opportunities for the character of a Jesus-follower to come through. Working for a corporation? That’s your call!


Question

What's your experience working in a large corporation? Any survival advice?



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