Snaking your way to the top

So, you’ve finally made it out of college alive. Congratulations….Not!

As you walk out of the hallowed halls of your university, scroll in hand, remember that in order to make your mark and grab your destiny, you have to be ready to do what it takes. Get ready to get down and dirty, play rough and scratch out a few eyeballs in the process (and that’s all in a day’s work).

It’s a dog eat dog world out there (and if you haven’t figured that out by the time you graduate, your college education was for naught!)

Get ready because sometimes in the real world, you gotta play it big and crafty…think Frank Underwood from House of Cards big and crafty.

Play the game right and this could be the greatest moment of your life. You are a full-fledged money making drone/productive member of society and the sky’s the limit.

Unfortunately some little people may have to serve as your stepping stones/footstools as you climb higher and higher.
Tread lightly; this is a strange world you’ve ventured into.

Survival is key in the workplace and all is not as it seems.

You thought college was bad?

1. Internships

Freshie/fresher/freshman…whatever the hell they called it where you went to school? Yup, you’re back there again. Regardless of whether you got hazed during your orientation period, you can almost count on getting hazed while paying your dues as an intern.

These lowly paid (sometimes unpaid…Jeez!) new recruits are ripe for the picking with the sparkle and shine still in their eyes. You’ll be made to carry out ad-hoc tasks and assist with random stuff.

You see, out here in the real world, the traditional structures of business, with a giant ladder that can only be climbed by paying your dues, doing your time and learning to crawl before you can walk are alive and well.

Whether you were in a a tiny liberal arts pond or big state school pond, you are a little fish now (more like a tadpole) and you need time to gestate.

Nearly 70 percent of millennials across the globe say achieving a manager or leadership role in their careers is important, according to a global study on millennials by the INSEAD Emerging Markets Institute (EMI), the HEAD Foundation and Universum so we all know what your priorities probably are but teaching your goals will require you to develop a work ethic and keep your ego in check.

Take this time to learn, the structure of business has often been established over a very long time, learn the history of the company and the field you are in so you will be better equipped when it is your time to rise.

A big part of success is the waiting game and not about instant gratification.

Survival tip: Keep your head down and do what you’re told but establish clear lines of command and every once in awhile (just like lockdown), you have to bust some a$$ if some guy gets a little too out of line. Be nice to everyone but don’t let them push you around

Your motto: It’s better to be respected than liked

2. No heart

The workplace has a number of elements: your boss, your colleagues and oh yeah, your job.

It’s easy to get lost in the muck of people issues that lie just beneath the surface, festering like moss, everywhere in the workplace.

At the outset let’s get one thing straight, leave your emotions at the door as best as you can. This is war! And you have to be a heartless ba$tard and fight with your head not your heart if you are to survive (backstabbing is the norm here, as you shall soon see).

Therefore, do not engage in any form of workplace romance.
Statistically, the majority of relationships you start will not end in marriage, so you have to ask yourself whether you want to see a piece of (possibly angry baggage) every day at work if (or when) you break up.

Survival tip: Be emotionally distant

Your motto: Don’t $hit where you eat

3. Divide and conquer

What, you thought the fraternities, sororities, cliques and clans ended at college?

While the World Wars are waged in the boardrooms, uprisings are plotted around the water fountain/coffee machine, that town square of the corporate prison system.

The favor bank can often be the only bank that matters but even that can only get you so far…

Remember for all the outward civilities of the daily grind, it is the law of the jungle that reigns supreme.

Don’t even attempt to penetrate a well established clique. Instead, spot them and get to know each person individually.Think, ‘divide and conquer’.

Remember the age old adage, keep your friends close but your enemies closer?

Don’t get involved in petty politics, rivalries or fire fights, don’t add coworkers to your social networks and above all, do not share personal details of any kind at work, you have bigger fish to fry.

When it comes to co-workers, you have to play them like a finely tuned instrument. Never lower their morale.

Survival tip: People are pieces of a puzzle

Your motto: Divide and conquer

4. Prove yourself

This one is tricky. No one likes a ‘try hard’ but you can engineer opportunities to show your capabilities. Downsizing (or rightsizing) exercises, mergers, regime change, takeovers and even appraisals all present opportunities to expand your territory/circle and make your move to that coveted position.

Tread a delicate balance between getting noticed and being invisible. It’s good to take initiative but you have to take steps to make yourself indispensable as well.

That is how you gain bargaining power which will enable you to ascend up the ladder in no time.

Survival tip: Step up but do it wisely

Your motto: Slowly become indispensable

5. Exit strategy

Eugene O’Neil said “contentment is a warm sty, for the eaters and the sleepers.”

Think strategically and always be plotting. Maneuver yourself towards career movement (either externally or internally).

This part is very much like chess, requiring you to go through a number of what-if scenarios.

Above all, remember that (especially if this is your first job), this is just the beginning and all you are doing is building a runway.

Always be prepared for your next move. Be prepared to even leave the company if things get too hot.

Gather all the resume fodder you can get and partake in any new experiences you can find. Speak publicly, read voraciously, take online courses or home tuition to better yourself.

Your reward may not even be in this organization but stay strong and you’ll get there…

Survival tip: Stay sharp

Your motto: This is just the beginning

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