My Top 3 Lessons from Corporate America

Can you imagine having something be a major part of your life for the past 9.5 years where you spend at least 8 hours a day having it affect your life somehow and all of a sudden VANISH?!?! Well that’s what happened to me when I decided to leave my first post-college job and explore if the grass is greener on the other side.

I worked at Turner Construction for 9.5 years and was so grateful to them for hiring me straight out of college at the tail end of the Great Recession in 2012. As fate would have it, I got the offer on the last day before I had to make a decision on my only other job offer. Luckily, I didn’t have to travel down the “how my life would have unfolded if I lived in Texas” multiverse. Throughout my time at Turner, it was surreal to see what Corporate America was like because I’ve only seen it through movies. All of my family worked blue collar jobs and nobody had a white collar job so this was all a new experience for me. The onboarding was amazing!! It was also very thoughtful that they gave us a book that taught us etiquette’s of the corporate world like not drinking from the finger bowl. I remember taking a “business dining” dinner at Oregon State and when we had our first lunch meeting, we were all just chilling and eating with our hands! Also the first time I ever heard of or tasted a Wedge Salad. It’s literally just a wedge of lettuce with Hidden Valley on top of it. Although it did help me when I advanced to the level of “networking dinners” and that’s where that bougie class was helpful.

I can write about so much about my time in the Corporate World but I got a bout of inspiration and decided to choose some life lessons as a post idea. I’m just going to get to it!!

Lesson #1You have to ask for what you want.

This one seems pretty easy right? I do it all the damn time at Taco Bell! Steak soft taco please and a Cheesy Roll-up for Brooks. But the person who told me this said I would be surprised how often people don’t express about what they want. My question that prompted this response was, “Should I tell the OM that I want to be on this specific project or should I let him decide?” So with that piece of wisdom I was able to get on my “dream” project and I really think that propelled my career. For the majority of my career, I was able to tailor my resume to how I wanted it to read rather than let someone else do it.

Lesson #2 – Relationships define project success.

We were hanging out, drinking beer, and shooting the shit in the Yellow House kitchen when I heard this little knowledge nugget. Our awesome project was coming to an end and we were reminiscing about all the good times and one of the Owner’s rep said that one of the ways he defines project success is if he wants to work with that person/company again. He brilliantly replied that he would want to work with our team again lol I’ve taken this to heart and treat all my projects on this level of emotional intelligence. Your industry is extremely small and you will always run into someone from a past project. So make sure they’ll greet you with a hug and not a middle finger 😉

Lesson #3 – Freedom from Work is through Personal Finance.

I was a closet nerd for 18 years of my life. Back in the day it wasn’t cool to like gaming, comic book characters, and pretty much anything cool now. I loved personal finance from an early start because my family was poor and I knew that I did not want to be poor when I grew up. Spending time in Corporate America took my personal finance game to the absolute next level. The freaking smorgasbord of money goodies that popped up right before my eyes like a 401(k), an HSA, and the ability to max my Roth! I started to do Dave Ramsey’s baby steps and that ultimately led me to the life I have right now.

In Conclusion

Wow, I haven’t written “in conclusion” since college. Can you imagine if someone had to write “in conclusion” in a work email? Like how freaking long is your email if you gotta add an “in conclusion,” You should already know that I stopped reading 2 bullet points ago. Anyway, Corporate America has given me so much and I’ll forever be grateful but I’m not gonna lie, if I just got paid and didn’t have to work I would be okay with that lol would you?