How to Climb to the Top of Corporate America

by Derek Sall on May 28, 2013

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Corporate America
Are you currently working in the lovely world called “Corporate America”? I am. Over the past 5 years I’ve been learning to not only survive within this crazy world, but how to actually thrive in the environment.

In order to climb up that corporate ladder, there are negative perceptions that you have to tear other people down or be completely fake to get there, but I would argue 100% against this. Executives are not in their current position because they’re stupid. No.

They understand the work environment very well and can tell who is faking and who is for real. You want to prove to them that you’re the real deal, and here’s how you do it.

1. Get in the Mindset Early

If you’re currently in college, now is the perfect time to start thinking about your career in the corporate world. If you’re anything like me, you assume that because you have a 3.8 GPA there will be masses of companies lining up to hire you. Let me tell you right now, this is not the case.

Companies truly have their pick of many qualified candidates today. In order to get recognized, you’re going to need some work experience to back up that GPA of yours. The best way to get ahead in corporate is to get an internship. Whether it’s paid or not, that’s not the point. The purpose of the internship is to gain experience. That’s what companies want to see before they hire you.

2. Prove Your Skill

I used to work within supply management and entered raw material costs into our system. The job wasn’t all bad, but there was absolutely no exposure to other employees. I could have worked that job for 20 years and only a handful of people would have known my name. To combat this, I decided to prove my worth.

Based on the technical questions that floated around the office, I knew that many of the employees around me were not competent in Microsoft Excel. If they could just learn a few simple functions I knew their efficiencies could dramatically improve, which in turn, would help the bottom line of the entire company as well.

To do this, I decided to head up a class and show anyone that was interested how to perform various functions within Excel to simplify their work. It was a huge hit. I was suddenly known as “The Excel Guy” and it helped me get my first promotion into the Finance department. If you have a skill in a certain area, don’t be afraid to show it. It may help you land a promotion soon as well.

3. Develop Your Leadership Abilities

If there is one thing I don’t like to do, it’s boss people around. I would much rather be told what to do than to lead others. There are certain psychological traits that leaders learn to effectively lead others. So, if I want to advance in the company I’m going to have to lead people at some point in time, right? So I may as well learn about leadership now. And, what’s the best way to learn something? To do it.

Since I knew I probably couldn’t just start bossing people around at work, I decided to volunteer at a non-profit. I was soon elected as the chair of the finance department, and was therefore expected to lead the meetings as well as give a summary of the organization’s financial status at the board meetings. It has definitely helped me come out of my shell at work, and I am now on my way to another promotion.

If you currently have trouble developing a weakness, throw yourself into a situation that is sure to expose it! Only then will you truly focus on improving yourself. There’s nothing wrong with being a little uncomfortable once in a while. In fact, if you’re always comfortable, that means you’re not growing. And that’s a surefire way to get left in the dust in Corporate America.

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  • It’s a cut-throat business out there. You really need to prove yourself and excel if you want to climb up. But there’s nothing that can’t be done if you willed it.

  • Very true. The business world is not always the easiest to deal with, let alone rise up the ranks of, but if you continually focus on improving your skills and showing others your value, then you should see a promotion coming your way shortly.

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