5 Crucial Lessons From Working in the Corporate World

You won't learn these rules in business school.

Corporate Lessons Learned
There are so many ways to avoid cringe-worthy situations at your first corporate job. Getty Images

This originally appeared on Quora. Answered by Madeline Mann.

There are 5 things I WISH someone had told me before I started my first corporate job. Gosh, they seem obvious after a while but no one actually gives you these tips in school.

1. Know when to use "Reply all" and "Bcc"

Seriously, no one sits anyone down and tells them:

  • LOOK. If you are going to send out an email to a large number of people, put all of their emails in Bcc so that 1) No one takes those emails and uses it as their own personal mailing list and 2) So that when people hit reply, the replies only go to you and whichever hosts you also put in TO: line.
  • BUT if you are on a big email where everyone's addresses show up, don't hit "Reply all" when your response is only intended for the sender. Everyone will hate you.
  • And I did all these things wrong, and YES, people did hate me.

2. Take notes

  • Bring notebook and pen with you everywhere
    • At my first corporate job, my boss asked me, "Do you even want to be here?" I was confused and mortified - I thought I was doing a good job! She said that I looked bored in all the meetings, and recommended I bring a notebook and take notes. Such a simple solution! I wasn't doing or saying anything in the meeting because I was so new, but I also was not actively listening and gathering information by taking notes.
    • This led me to understand what was going on in the meeting better (I was able to review the notes with my manager after) and people percieved me as more engaged.
  • This does not end when you are experienced, take notes always! I never go anywhere without my notebook.

3. Don't send apologetic/wordy emails to executives who you are intimidated by

  • It makes you look not confident and inexperienced
  • I have some example emails here in this video of what to do, and what NOT to do!
  • Skip the preamble. Delete everywhere you write the word "just," "very," and any other language where you apologize.
  • I use the "Just not Sorry" Gmail plug in that underlines weak language in my emails, check it out!
Corporate Lessons Learned
Ask tons of questions. This is the most crucial advice EVER! Getty Images

4. Ask tons of questions - This is the most crucial advice EVER!

  • When you get assignments, your manager will think that they have explained everything clearly, but they always leave out key details that they assume are obvious. But since you are new, it is not obvious at all so you have to ask questions to make sure you have all the information you need.
  • I have so many epic fail stories on this, here is one:
    • I was asked to edit and email out contracts to people in the company. It seemed super simple, so didn't ask for more details. My boss came back to me later and was frustrated - I had sent word documents to hundreds of people, when it was supposed to be PDFs so that they can't edit the content of the contract.
    • Whose fault is that? Mine. I should have asked more questions.
  • Speak up if you are confused - you are going to screw things up, come off as lazy, etc...The problem wont be the manager, it will be you
  • Don't know what questions to ask? Make sure you understand exactly WHY the task is important. More context means you'll make more accurate decisions.
    • You can watch a video here I made that gives you more questions to ask.
    • This seems silly for small tasks but is actually hugely important. Always understand the full picture of what your work contributes to or else you WILL screw it up.

5. Write handwritten cards

  • When I left my last job I wrote over 100 individualized handwritten notes to my coworkers. Yes, it took lots of hours, but these people were a huge part of my life, and it meant so much to them to be thought of.
  • Next time someone does a good job - leads a project, plans an epic event…leave a note on their desk instead of giving them a high five or a congrats email. I bet you they hold onto it for a long time!

There are so many ways to avoid cringe-worthy situations at your first corporate job, and one is to watch my YouTube Channel Self Made Millennial. I post every week check it out!