Why I Thought Corporate America Was For Me... Until I Realized It Wasn't
"Sometimes you wanna go where everybody knows your name." —Cheers
I’ve always been the girl with a plan.
Even if my plan didn’t go accordingly, I had plan B, C and sometimes D. So when I decided to get my MBA, I’d already decided that without a doubt I’d graduate, find a corporate job, eventually become someone’s manager and work my way up the “Corporate Ladder.” In May 2016, I received my MBA, and decided to keep working my part-time job for a while because it was comfortable for me. I loved my coworkers, work didn’t go home with me and, originally, it provided me with the work/life balance that I needed.
Then, the company that I worked for decided to make a few (and by few, I mean a lot) of organizational changes. One of those changes being a new supervisor. This lady made every day of my job a living hell for me. I remember my husband telling me something along the lines of, “life begins when you’re uncomfortable,” so I knew the time had come for me to leave my comfortable job. It was time for me to start this “career” that I’d been planning since grad school. I figured since I wasn’t 100 percent sure what I wanted to do with my life, that I would try a contracted position. That way, I didn’t have to make too much of a commitment. If I liked the job, I could work my way in. If I didn’t like the job, I could leave once my contract was up.
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When I entered Corporate America, I couldn’t have chosen a better organization to work for. I had a manager that was cool. I didn’t have a friendship with my coworkers, but it felt good to just come to work and stick to myself—or so I thought. Eventually I started to miss interacting. I began to feel like a robot Monday–Friday. Everything was the same, every day. From the commute to work, to the elevator ride up, right down to walking to my desk. It was starting to become mentally draining.
I thought I could create my passion because a career at this organization would provide stability. It would allow me to stay with a company and grow, which is something I’ve always wanted. If you know me, then you know I will quit a job if I’m not happy. I was happy here. I thought I was happy here.
My boss was my mentor. He wanted to teach me how to “play the game,” how to work my way to the top like he had. I thought things were perfect for me, but as time went on, I became more and more unhappy.
I was unhappy because Corporate America wasn’t my passion. I was unhappy because I was fighting to get in with a company that passed me up on promotions simply because someone kissed a little more ass that I was willing to. I was unhappy because Corporate America didn’t care about my family. I was unhappy because to Corporate America, I was just another employee on the fifth floor. I was unhappy because with all of the things going on with racism in today’s society, work became mentally draining some days, but yet, I still had to go and pretend like nothing ever happened.
Imagine walking past a white coworker, who is doing everything imaginable to avoid making eye contact with you. That was my reality four to five times A DAY. Not knowing what to talk about because everywhere I went in the building, the television was on CNN as they discussed some more of Donald Trump’s BS.
I was unhappy because I had to give myself a pep talk every time I stepped foot in the building. I had to let “them” know who I was in every conversation. I was unhappy because my coworkers weren’t surprised that I was a mother of 2, but it always seemed to catch them off guard to know that I was married—to the father of my children. I was so unhappy that I became pissed off. I was so focused on the big picture that I didn’t look at all the little ones around me.
Finally, a friend reached out to me about a position that she thought would be perfect for me. Everyone that knows me, “knows” me, so with that being said, she believed my personality would fit really well with my new coworkers. Aside from me landing my dream job, with an organization that one could only dream of being a part of, this lesson taught me that Corporate America isn’t for everyone—and that’s OK. I’m just fine working for this new company with 10 other women that actually care about me. They know my family on a first name basis. On days that I take my three-year-old to speech, our CEO asks how did she like it (at my old job, I can’t even tell you who the CEO was). My husband and children are able to come into the office and see me. If I have to bring one of my daughters to work, they help find things to keep her busy. Things like that make all the difference when it’s not just you. So while I thought I wanted to work my way up and become an asset to an organization, I quickly realized that it isn’t for everyone.
These days, what I’d rather do is work for a company that knows I’m an asset. A company that knows, while they may find another person for my position, she’s not me. When a company feels that way about you, they will do everything it takes to keep you—and you will do everything to keep them as well. So while I thought Corporate America was for me, I quickly came to the realization that it wasn’t. “Sometimes you want to go where everybody knows your name.” I couldn’t have said it better myself.