Success Story: Excelling In A Corporate Environment

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Shorter Version

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Immediately after graduating college I accepted a job at what I thought was a marketing firm. Instead, it was one of those “direct marketing” borderline pyramid scheme types of businesses. I was selling products that I didn’t believe in to people who probably didn’t care. It took me seven months before I finally quit when I accepted an internship at a real marketing and PR firm. My first piece of advice to you is if you find yourself in a job that is not only making you miserable, but not providing you with professional growth, get out. If you can’t afford to quit immediately and need time to find a job first, no problem at all. That makes complete sense and is probably the smarter choice; but, you do not owe it to anyone to stay at a company where you are not benefiting.

The next step forward

After my internship, I accepted another job that I wasn’t sure exactly what I would be doing, other than customer service, but I was sure that it was paying more than any other entry-level jobs for which I had been applying. I was a help support person for a software company. Was I super excited to answer phones all day and teach customers how to use a system? Not exactly. I was, however, super excited to be in a corporate environment, working on the 23rd floor and finally feeling like a real adult with a real salary and benefits. I worked hard and made good relationships with my leadership team and colleagues. Within 3 months, I was offered a senior-level position allowing me to work with our top clients.

Moving up the ladder in a corporate environment

Fast forward two years and I was tired of working on that team. After all, I wanted to be in marketing or public relations (or so I thought), and here I was in a support position. I started looking for other jobs when a member of the recruiting team, who I had befriended, offered me a position on her team, which is in Human Resources. That next year I learned everything I could about recruiting, the different functions of HR, operations, and employee relations. I was organized, I was good at communicating with my team, and while I wasn’t a Rockstar recruiter, I had the best numbers on the team because I worked the hardest. I was offered a Project Manager position within the HR team.

Since then I’ve also done employee relations and now hold the title of Business Partner.

The key elements for success

All of this happened within five years and none of it would have been possible if I had not been resilient, flexible, open to new opportunities, hardworking or fostered great relationships. Those are the most important elements to being successful in a corporate environment.

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Actionable Steps


Go after what you want

You do not have to stay in a position where you are unhappy. You do, however, have to be patient. Do not confuse unhappiness with being stagnant. If you feel stuck, talk to someone at your company about other opportunities that are available.


Work hard

This seems like a no brainer, but you would be surprised by how many seemingly lazy people I see every day at my job. You do not have to kill yourself or book hundreds of hours of overtime, just do your job and then a little more.


Remain flexible

Corporate environments are always changing and honestly that environment isn’t great for everyone. If you’re open to change and new ideas, you will have a much easier time.


Use your network

Get to know the people on your team. Learn who the leaders are in the business and find a way to interact with them. If you are able to work cross-functionally, your odds of being promoted or moving laterally increase exponentially.

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About the Author

Emily H.

Emily H.

HR Business Partner

I’m a 2013 graduate of Kansas State University. I hold a degree in Journalism and Mass Communications, with an emphasis in Public Relations and a minor in Music Performance. My full-time job is as an HR Business Partner where I manage everything from employee relations to internal communications.

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