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4 Tips for Transition to Corporate Culture

March 8th, 2012 · 5 Comments

Early in many young PR professionals’ careers, you may start out working for a small business with only a handful of co-workers. The environment, dress code, and overall culture in many small businesses are emphatically casual, and the hierarchy is not as necessarily as rigid or clearly spelled out. For many young professionals, this is a great way to first enter the job market. Soon enough, after a few years of experience under your belt, however, you may move on to a job for a larger corporation, one whose modus operandi is drastically different. Having personally experienced this transition, I can say with some measure of authority that it takes a lot of getting used to. Here are a few tips to help ease that transition.

1.      Read the company handbook thoroughly, and expect rules to be de facto rules and not just flexible guidelines.

When I worked for a small business, we did have a company handbook that outlined rules, but it was fairly obvious after several months working there that no one had read it, and almost every aspect of work was flexible. Although it can be tough to take handbook warnings about tardiness seriously when you were once able to come in at whatever time you liked, follow rules to the T unless you are told by a superior otherwise.

2.      Observe how veteran employees act and dress.

Of course, even if you’ve moved into a more corporate atmosphere, the handbook will not necessarily give you the best indication about how your new environment really works. The best way to understand the new company’s culture is to observe it in play. Of course, you don’t want to follow the example of new or troublesome employees. Figure out who in the company has worked long and is liked and respected. Follow their ways of dress and behavior.

3.      Interact as you much as you can with coworkers and supervisors to further understand the company culture.

It should be noted that observation, of course, is not enough when trying to navigate a new company’s modes of operation. It’s important to interact professionally with those who know the system well. Integrate yourself as fully as you can in order to understand how the company works.

4.      If you are in doubt about anything, don’t be afraid to ask. 

Since you are a newcomer, everyone understands that you will sometimes inadvertently make the occasional faux pas when you first begin. At the same time, it’s important to clarify any questions you may have about company policy if you are ever in doubt so as to avoid uncomfortable situations. Never be afraid to ask questions. It’s much better to be informed than to cross a line and admit later that you didn’t know.

This is a guest post by Nadia Jones who blogs at online college about education, college, student, teacher and movie related topics. You can reach her at nadia.jones5@gmail.com.

 

Tags: Advice from a Pro · Careers · First Day on the Job · Guest Post

5 responses so far ↓

  • 1 Urban Petersen // Apr 26, 2012 at 10:19 pm

    This is a great article. I am currently looking for a job after school and it seems like it is easier to get into a smaller company which I am fine with. I have interned at a smaller company and the rules are fairly flexible but while at the internship I wondered if it was really like that at a large firm or agency.
    From my experience it seems like the “veterans” are the ones who can get away with more and the rules are a little more flexible for them. I think it would be a good habit to act and dress one step above the veteran to be safe.

  • 2 Urban Petersen // Apr 26, 2012 at 10:20 pm

    This is a great article. I am currently looking for a job after school and it seems like it is easier to get into a smaller company which I am fine with. I have interned at a smaller company and the rules are fairly flexible but while at the internship I wondered if it was really like that at a large firm or agency.
    From my experience it seems like the “veterans” are the ones who can get away with more and the rules are a little more flexible for them. I think it would be a good habit to act and dress one step above the veteran to be safe.

    Urban Petersen
    Southeast Missouri State University

  • 3 John Kraft Southeast Missouri State University // May 3, 2012 at 11:41 am

    I really enjoyed reading this post. As a new transition from intern to employee it is important to understand the nature of the corporate business world. Following the rules is obviously good advice, even if it means reading a thorough and tedious handbook from the company. No one will criticize you if you are doing what the company has asked you to do. Observing how veterans act and dress could be a key piece to the corporate culture puzzle. Follow the leaders of the company, the people with the most experience and that have the greatest success. Taking notes on these individuals will only help and send you to the next level of the corporate heirarchy. Socializing at the appropriate times with fellow co-workers is a necessity for relationship develoment and cohesion with the team. Many people are afraid to ask questions and this post made me realize that it is okay to do so. Making the transition to the corporate world can be hard and a little confusing and the best thing you can do is follow the veterans and pick their brains. Great post.

  • 4 Blake Amick - Southeast Missouri State University // May 7, 2012 at 12:42 pm

    This is a great article. It has answered some questions I had about adopting the new culture. I feel it’s much like a college course. You can read notes and text books and learn a great deal, but you can learn more intricacies by interacting with professors and any guest speakers.

  • 5 Jeff O'Neill- Southeast Missouri State University // May 7, 2012 at 1:18 pm

    I enjoyed this article. The tip about reading the company handbook even if it long and boring is great advice. Reading the handbook can help you answer some questions you may have that you don’t want to ask a co-worker, for example you don’t want to be asking about how requesting time off or sick leave pay works on your first day in the office and that is information that will always be in a company handbook. Many people struggle with transitions and I think it is due to not being prepared. If you prepare yourself for the transition into the corporate culture, you adapt to your surroundings and listen to the veterans then the transition will probably be much easier.
    The tip about asking questions is very reassuring for me. I have never been afraid to ask a question and firmly believe it is better to have asked the question and know then to break the rules and find out later because you were too afraid to ask a question. The third tip about socializing with co-workers I like because I am a very social person and outgoing so my attitude and personality will hopefully help me fit in wherever I get a job. Thanks for the great post.

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