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Taking Control of Your Career in Corporate America

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January 2, 2018

By: Brad Gessner

Corporate America is ultra-competitive—in order to progress, you have to perform. Prior to joining AEG Worldwide, I worked in the public sector, for the State of California and then the City of Scottsdale, Arizona. I also managed the San Diego Convention Center and can tell you from my various career experiences across the public and private sectors that your success in the corporate world is contingent on your ability to take the driver’s seat and steer your career where you want it to go. How do you do that?

Vet Companies the Way They Vet Candidates

Corporations go to great lengths to ensure they’re hiring reliable, capable individuals. Candidates should vet employers with the same diligence.

You wouldn’t purchase a home without conducting research into its history, status, amenities, and so on. Finding an employer is like finding a home for your career, so take the time to get the information you need on a given company in order to make an informed decision. Read online reviews, both from customers and current employees. Contact people who conduct business with the company and ask what their experiences have been. Ask people who used to work with the company why they left. We live in the information age; take advantage of everything that’s out there for anyone to uncover.

Use Leadership as a Landmark

A big brand name is indeed an attention grabber and source of pride, but it’s a company’s leadership that determines the health and happiness of its employees. The interview process is every bit as much an opportunity for you to gauge what you might be getting into as it is a tool for the employer to judge whom they’re looking into. Great leadership always makes a strong first impression—and so does poor leadership. Gravitate to the leaders you meet within an organization rather than the organization itself.

Establish an Understanding

Corporate America rewards achievers. In order to be an achiever, you have to have clear goals that define achievements. As you are being brought onboard a company, sit with the person or people you will be reporting to and outline with them the objectives of your position. Set reasonable expectations, identify challenges, and create a timeline of smaller milestones. It’s not a bad idea to put everything in writing, and I don’t mean that in a “cover yourself” way. It’s more a matter of ensuring everyone is on the same page from day one.

Actively Manage Your Role

Corporations have thousands of internal and external tasks being completed every single day, from the minutia of operations to the high stakes of strategic planning. No one is going to micromanage you, and that’s a good thing. In Corporate America, you generally have the autonomy to define and redefine your role, so long as you are maintaining the core responsibilities you were hired to take on. Use the flexibility to continually exceed what’s expected of you and make yourself more promotable.

Challenge Yourself

With all of the above as stepping-stones, the pedestal of professional development is an unrelenting willingness to challenge yourself. Again from my own experience, I will say that the Hospitality & Tourism Management (HTM) Master’s Program at San Diego State University helped me not only challenge myself at a pivotal point in my career, but also carry life-long skills and leadership lessons from the program into virtually all of my personal and professional endeavors. To learn more about the HTM Master’s Program curriculum and faculty, click here.

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