Corporations are, in public understanding, large companies, hiring more than 250 employees (although in legal terms, a “corporation” is defined differently, i.e., as a legal entity separate and distinct from its owners). 

Some corporations focus on manufacturing products and services for other businesses and the government. E.g., Boeing and Airbus sell their planes to airlines and governments. IBM currently focuses on building cloud computing services, quantum computing solutions, and blockchain architectures for other businesses. ASML builds machines producing computer chips for big players like Apple. Google and Facebook make their profits on marketing services offered to businesses (through Google Ads and Facebook Ad campaigns, respectively). Other corporations, including household names such as Amazon or Netflix, work in the Business-to-Customer (B2C) model and deliver services straight to customers’ homes. Corporations function as legal persons, or “born out of statute,” and are governed by the corporate law.

People who have never worked in a corporation usually have a picture of how such a job could look like—there are lots of urban legends and stereotypes about corporations spread by Hollywood. In the movie world, a corporation is always an evil institution. Some examples: movies such as Office Space (1999), WALL-E (2008), The Jurassic Park series (1993-2015), The Terminator series (1984-2015), or Resident Evil series (2002-2016), TV series such as The Simpsons (1989-), Futurama (1999-2013), or Mr. Robot (2015-), and documentaries such as The Corporation (2003) and Enron: The Smartest Guys in the Room (2005).


In international corporations, there are multiple management levels: Managers of Plant, Managers of Branches, Managers of Europe/Asia/America Associations, Managers of Headquarters. Typically, you have a boss, and he/she still has a few bosses over them. Furthermore, in most corporations, the organizational structure is a matrix. So, you typically encounter the following: 

  1. Direct Manager who accounts for your presence at work, fluent communication with other team members, and monitoring the results of the whole team; 
  2. Human Resource Manager who manages employee development and decides about their fate (or, their career if that’s what you prefer to call it); 
  3. Dotted-Line (executive) Manager who works with you on substantive tasks; 
  4. Heads of specific projects you are currently participating in. 

Of course, you can also be a leader (or a boss) to someone else, e.g., next to being a team member of five projects, you can also be a leader of three other projects—which makes you a member of another three teams.

The detailed way in which the management is structured depends on the sector of the market. In large engineering companies, across most departments, the management is still old-school. Namely, managers usually are hired from outside the company and come from management-related backgrounds. 

When it comes to leading projects, they “just manage”—while specialists create products and solve problems under their leadership. The exceptions are R&D departments where usually, the managers are experts in the subject-matter of their projects. In IT on the contrary, most companies prefer to promote specialists to managers within the company. In that fashion, managers always have a high degree of specialistic knowledge as well as insights into the company.


Specialists To the Left, Managers To the Right

Typically, there is a clear division between managers and specialists. As mentioned before, some companies promote their senior specialists to managers while other companies focus on expertise in leadership and hire external managers. In either case, managers and specialists have a well-delineated scope of duties. 

A manager is there to manage and motivate people—the team members should focus on executing projects. A specialist should work on the projects and come up with creative solutions rather than steer the projects. A manager’s natural way to career progression is to get to a higher level of management. A specialist’s natural way to career progression is to become the “to-go-to” person regarding come class of problems within the company (and in that sense, corporate specialists are specialists). 

At the end of the day, these are just two different career tracks. You should decide early on which one of them interests you more as your choice will determine your path of development in the company.

The Daily Schedule

Your daily schedule depends on your function. However, your Outlook Calendar tends to get overloaded with hundreds of corporate appointments—the corporate executives keep on broadcasting their vision to all plants on a daily basis. It often happens that multiple meetings of the teams you participate in are arranged at the same time, and you need to find your way between them. 

Besides, there are also regular 1-1 meetings arranged by all your managers mentioned above. Additionally, if you want to set up meetings for the teams you lead, you need to invite your team members according to their availability. Your team members might be already booked for other meetings, therefore, you need to find the first spot that suits everyone. In practice, it can be weeks ahead.

It’s hard to determine what daily life will be in every detail, as every company has its own company culture. One company will enforce you to come in and leave at precise hours, while another company will give you much more flexibility. One company will allow you to take work (including the company documents) home, and another company won’t. One company will be liberal about the topics you can or cannot touch on at lunch, while another company will strictly forbid talking about politics or religion. 

Usually, the company culture develops from the seed group of the first twenty people who were working there when the company was still a baby. These people, their personalities and mutual interactions strongly influence the spirit in the company while it develops. 

This is why it’s better not to take too much for granted when applying for a job in a corporation. You will need to ask a lot of questions at the interview, but also later, once you start working, to make sure that you are familiar with all the local (written and unwritten) rules.


A Functional System of Incentivizing You for Your Effort and Progress

You will enjoy more than decent paychecks, usually accompanied by a large selection of corporate working benefits. Usually, there are also team- and individual bonus programs for various types of achievements. Bonuses are usually announced at various company meetings and celebrations at the end of the year, or at certain milestone in the company’s development. 

Your Employer Will Additionally Invest In Your Development

As a corporate employee, you will have access to almost unlimited know-how. Employees can view multiple electronic systems and applications regarding technical and technological solutions, organizational models, and various personnel management projects. Therefore, if you want to learn, there is an ocean of possibilities! There are also obligatory and facultative online and on-site classes for you to attend.

You will also have travel opportunities. Large corporations often have offices spread all around the world, which allows you to visit distant, exotic places—and even get paid extra for that! During the application procedure, you might be asked whether you are ready to travel and to what capacity. There are three groups of traveling employees: 

  1. Young employees who are supposed to develop within the company and go through multi-site training programs; 
  2. Experienced, highly qualified specialists who need to troubleshoot problems in different plants; 
  3. Managers who need to examine the progress in other plants.


Modern Management Practices

Many corporations experiment with modern management practices that were the domain of startups in the past. If you are looking for innovative and dynamic working environment in which new products are created using scrum and/or agile development, many corporations—especially in IT—give that opportunity today. 

Furthermore, corporations also learn to outsource many positions that were traditionally seen as the backbone of the company structure. For instance, it becomes an common practice to outsource project management to managers based abroad, e.g., in countries where labor is much cheaper. This practice was unthinkable just a decade or two ago because of the common belief that you need in-person meetings to develop trust in the team. 

Today, it’s becoming obvious that you can work in teams and develop a team spirit online, and be as productive as in the traditional, office setting. This also means that it is possible to work for more than one employer remotely and from anywhere in the world.

Your Can Prioritize Your Own Career

In a corporation, you are a free person in a sense that you can make decisions that support your career. For instance, if you believe that your opportunities for self-growth have dried out in your current team, you can apply to join another team within the company. And, if you no longer see the path of growth at your current workplace, you are free to search for another employer in the field—your manager will understand, give you a warm farewell, and there will be no bad blood about your decision.


Star Qualities

In every competitive field, you need some star quality to thrive—the only question is, what does star quality mean? In corporate environment, professionals who are the most valued and get promoted the fastest, are usually those who are perceived as creative, productive, well organized, communicative, easy going, and well-connected within the company. 

Of course, there is a difference between how you are perceived and how you are. The fact that other employees notice what you do for the company and they believe that you are busy and irreplaceable, is often much more important than how much you do for the company for real. Thus, in a corporation, building self-image is everything.


Related to the previous point, in a corporation, every employee needs to care about their own career path. Every corporation is a bit like separate, small universe with its own laws of physics. Most employees attempt to figure out what these written and unwritten rules are, find their path up the ladder, get promoted, and build a career within the company. A corporation is not a safe harbor; it is a populated, vibrant marketplace where you need to sell yourself, and keep on building your reputation as an indispensable employee (Godin, 2010). In that sense, despite the fact that officially teams work for their common goals aligned with the mission and vision of the company, this working environment is extremely individualistic. 

Therefore, as a corporate employee, you will need to optimally divide your time between doing the actual work and self-promotion: showcasing everything you did, even if it was the smallest solution to the smallest problem. If you tell everyone around you, “Look at this cool solution!”—in fact, it will tell them, “Look at how cool I am!” To be truthful, this often resembles primary school: you need to raise your hand every time you have anything to say so that the teacher notices your engagement and lets you speak. 

As mentioned before, it is not enough to be hard-working to get promoted—you also need to be noticeable. For the same reason, in case you have a good idea for a new project or a new solution, it’s generally better for you to walk straight to your boss’ office and present what you’ve done, rather than discuss with your colleagues by a coffee. Of course, every corporation has its own culture—in some of them, the rat race is more harsh than elsewhere. 

In general, however, you can anticipate that you will meet some competitive people on the way, who won’t have too much respect to the authorship of ideas. Therefore, if you have a good concept, better to make sure that you will be the once who is recognized for this concept and who is in charge of executing it.

Lack of Competence

It is often the case that the loudest and most noticeable employees get promoted the fastest—especially in the conservative corporations that were created way before the IT era, and are now a hundred or more years old. Some of these loud yet clueless employees come from outside the company to take specific positions (i.e., through the diagonal promotion). They often suffer from a lack of project-related competencies—which the Human Resources (HR) department cannot notice.

For that reason, their current bosses need to limit the losses and teach them all the necessary skills. or this reason, if you decide to work in a corporation, you need to be prepared that your boss might know less about the subject-matter of the project than you. Some boss might also be mediocre managers—despite their formal training in management. While working for a corporation, you need to develop sacred patience for your bosses.

Moreover, the incompetent people are rarely laid off. Unless they commit a massive mistake (e.g., a fraud or a serious violation of company procedures), they are usually shifted around to other departments or other plants. And, so it goes on. Since those incompetent employees move around the departments a lot, they are always given yet another chance to start over. Therefore, in case you miscommunicate with your boss and it’s a dysfunctional relation, a good coping strategy is to do nothing: just wait until that person moves to another department (or, swap seats by yourself). 

Focus On Revenue

It’s not a secret that corporations are capitalistic machines fueled by profits. Once you work there, you will feel this fixation on numbers daily: your team will be given yearly targets to meet. You can expect regular audits and brainstorming on what to do to further increase the company income (or, decrease the costs, which is equivalent when you think about it). 

If this aspect of the job is repulsive for you, and if you perceive money as something “low” or “dirty,” you should focus on applying to the departments distant from production and sales—the R&D department as well as all the units oriented at providing professional training to employees. These departments are treated as investments. Therefore, there is no expectation that your work there will lead to generating revenue in a direct way. 


In a corporation, agenda constantly changes throughout the day, and no one knows what will happen today. Usually, the agenda for the day falls in ruins because the urgent, unexpected tasks need to be completed. But it’s up to you to decide which task to prioritize. Everyone is polite and will show you their understanding as long as you have a reason for not delivering in time. If you tell them, e.g., “I didn’t complete this task today because my nose itched,” they would just answer, “No problem, please recover and do it whenever you can.”

Even More Chaos

In developed countries, the costs associated with laying off an employee are often astronomical. For this reason, many large companies mitigate the risks of baring these costs by hiring employees through external hiring agencies. The mechanism is simple: the employee is hired by an external agency. The hosting company pays a commission to the agency, which is some amount on top of the employee’s salary. The agency makes profits on the commission while the company has the right to dispose of the employee at any point in time with additional costs—as in this system, the employee is formally hired by the external agency and not by the corporation.

This policy often has consequences for the efficiency of the corporation. There is a high rotation of labor: people come for a specific project, then leave, and new  people need to pick up the projects after the employees who just left. This fast turnover can lead to even more chaos and the feeling of working in vain: people around you are coming and going, and many projects are getting abandoned. 

For worse, external employees sent to the corporation by recruitment agencies don’t have that sense of belonging as they know what they are disposable and can leave at any moment. Therefore, they don’t integrate into the company culture as well as “regular employees.” When full-time employees of the corporation work with external employees sent by an agency, the situation feels awkward to everyone involved. 

Eeeven More Chaos

When the company grows big, its departments might start getting structurally detached from each other. If the company is a player in a competitive and dynamic market such as IT, the central management typically has a good grasp on all the projects going on in various departments. However, what happens when the company becomes a market leader in a developed sector where you can protect your IP, e.g., with patents and trade secrets (such as in engineering or biotechnology)? When the company maturates and becomes large enough to buy out smaller, competitive companies instead of competing with them and trying to keep the status of the top innovator in the field? 

Well, in such case the efficiency in communication might gradually decrease. At some point, the departments might lose fluency in communicating with each other. One day you might discover that the project you’ve been working on for six months now, is now being executed in parallel in another department. Or, that five teams tried to pull off this project before you started, and all of them failed. This can happen quite often…

Meetings, Meetings, Meetings!

You will likely spend over 50% of your working time on meetings. Sometimes, even 100%! It is not a joke; the movie scenes in which corporate employees spill coffee on their impeccable white shirts while running from one office to another in panic are not far from reality. On the bright side of things, you might get fit from just running from one meeting to another for the whole working day.

Tyranny of Morning Larks

If you happen to be a night owl, a.k.a., a nocturnal person or a B-person, you will have a hard life in a corporation—unless you happen to work in the evening shift. Chronotype is a term to describe all behaviors related to circadian rhythms. The fact that individuals have a distribution of chronotypes and a preference to sleep at different times has a deep biological meaning. 

In the old days, this interpersonal variability allowed small tribes to stay vigilant to potential dangers overnight. Thus, morningness-eveningness in the population follows a normal distribution (Roenneberg et al., 2007). This trait is believed to be at least partly determined by genes (Pegoraro et al., 2015), therefore, we cannot change it. Yet, corporations are under the dictatorship of morning larks; in a typical working scheme, employees should appear in the office in the early morning.


Not following the company procedures closely enough is the fastest route to get fired from a corporation. And, there is a wide range of rules to follow. Firstly, you’ll encounter a multitude of procedures listing the requirements in terms of financials, personnel policy, quality, environmental protection, security, code of conduct, etc. These documents are usually sent out to everyone in the corporation by Outlook. For worse, the rules change all the time. It’s hard to even keep up with reading them! 

Secondly, you’ll also need to follow a multitude of procedures arising from the applicable law in the market sector the company operates in—e.g., the aviation law for aircraft, the electronic data protection law for IT industry, the health protection law for drug manufacturing companies, the employee protection law for all companies. These procedures are there to make sure that employees comply with legal requirements and that ll the details of the manufacturing process or laboratory tests are monitored and recorded. All the associated data is usually saved and archived for another 20 years or more.

Political Correctness

Touching on some particular topics might not be welcome in a corporation. In a sense, freedom of speech is often restricted to a particular class of topics. The aim is to make sure that employees don’t touch on sensitive topics that might stir the integrity within the company.

For instance, many corporations aim to be strictly apolitical, therefore, discussing current political situation at work is not appreciated. Related to this point, most of today’s corporations also educate their employees on how to be politically correct. Thus, you can expect hundreds of compulsory courses on inclusivity, diversity, responsible leadership, etc. Nothing wrong with such training—but you might get overwhelmed with the amount training that is expected of you.

Focus On Inclusivity

Related to this point, you need to also make sure that while working in a corporation, you can approach and speak to employees representing various ethnicities and minorities in a neutral and unbiased way. The standards for inclusivity were raised high within the last decade, and while young employees who are now entering the job market naturally adapt to these standards—as they grew up in this culture—for older generations the process of developing this mindset might take longer. 

And regardless of your age and previous working experience, you need to pay attention to your own, individual assumptions and reactions to other people. It’s not only about the assumptions that form on your mind towards other ethnicities or sexual minorities, but towards other groups of people, regardless of what that group represents.

The point is that, the human brain is a Bayesian machine and learns based on the stimuli presented to it, both consciously and unconsciously. For instance, if you work in an engineering company and every time you go to a lunch break, you notice that 70% of the blue collar employees sitting at other tables smoke, while no one among your white-collar colleagues smokes, you might develop a bias. Namely, it might seem to you that all the blue collar employees tend to be heavy smokers. And, you might start to subconsciously avoid talking to them at the company’s Days Out. You get the idea. 

It works the same with any other bias that forms on your mind… It will slowly and silently crawl to the back of your head. You need to monitor your own beliefs, notice the bias, confront it with the reality, and consciously get rid of it. If you don’t acquire this self-management skill, even the best corporate training in inclusivity will not make you an objective, unbiased, open-minded, and progressive person.

Subjective Way of Assessing Your Performance and Awarding Bonuses

The vast majority of private companies perform the annual assessment of all their employees’ performance. During such a judgment day, you not only need to attend a progress meeting with your superiors, but you also get a grade, typically on a scale of A-F or 1-5. It feels like getting back to primary school when your teachers were grading your school tests and your overall demeanor. Whether you’ll receive a yearly personal bonus depends on that grade.

Christmas parties at corporations often resemble Oscar ceremonies: all those who believe they should have received a yearly bonus, but they didn’t, cry together in the restroom.

Cult-Like Practices

Corporation pays for your time but would appreciate getting your soul too. Be prepared for multitasking projects, emergency dinners with guests from other plants and/or with clients, business travels, and the necessity to showcase your work all the time.

This fast-paced corporate lifestyle can also cause intrusive thoughts about work, even in free time. You need to demonstrate a high degree of assertiveness and self-control to be able to push these thoughts away. If you don’t stand your ground firm enough, the corporate life can drain you from all your life energy in the long run—slowly but steadily.

Corporations can also be manipulative in their strategies to make you obsessed. First of all, they want you to feel like an important contributor to the whole company—even if you role is, in fact, quite minor. It is the main reason why corporate positions often have such long and/or funny titles to describe quite basic functions. E.g., instead of a Security Guard, they will call you a Loss Prevention Officer. Instead of a Garbage Collector, you will be crowned a Waste Removal Engineer. Instead of a Receptionist, you’ll become a Director of First Impressions. Not mentioning that, you might become a Head of the Department with as little as 2-3 people working under you. In general, corporate positions usually sound pompous compared to what they entail. 

Secondly, rather than whipping employees by a vision of unemployment,  the corporate management will stimulate an informal competition, and a race for the status of the most engaged, the most active, and the most efficient person in the company—or, in other words, the proverbial employee of the month.

For this purpose, companies organize lots of extracurricular events such as open days or internal conferences. They “stimulate the company culture” by developing internal communication platforms such as internal forums, online blogs, and newsletters. They will also invite you to take a lot of compulsory and/or optional courses. In the end, in pursuit of becoming the employee of the month, you hectically jump between all these activities: social events, writing blogs and essays about the progress within the company and/or developments in the field, completing dozens of leadership and management courses, and your actual projects—until you end up in a state of utter exhaustion.

But this is not all. Many corporations also launch special programs which offer you additional benefits—officially for free, while in practice, these benefits will cost you a lot of additional labor, and benefit the company rather than helping you. For instance, you can be offered free dinner at the office or a free ride by a company bus that will drop you by your door—but only when you stay at the office until 7pm, which is about two hours overtime. Well, you get the idea.

For this reason, it is essential to ask yourself about your own boundaries way before you sign a contract in a corporation. How much of your soul are you will got give away in the name of becoming a valued employee? Remember that even in a corporation, career development is a long-term game; you won’t get anywhere if you end up with a burnout after a year or two. Therefore, those who get the furthest in corporations are usually those who can set clear boundaries right from the start.


Corporate jobs are not difficult to find. They are openly announced through professional social networks (e.g., LinkedIn), on job boards (e.g., Indeed), and also, naturally, through the company websites.

Many corporations also developed open online career centers where you can subscribe for the company newsletter—even if you are not their employee. You can also specify the range of positions and locations you might be interested in. Then, in case a vacancy in that category comes up, you will get notified.


When it comes to recruitment practices, the good news is that, most corporations have the policy to refresh their staff by bringing new blood into the company regularly. Therefore, landing a job in a corporation without having personal contacts there is usually possible—and sometimes even favored by the recruiters.

Many corporations also hold internal job boards where positions often appear even before the public announcement online. The current company employees are free to apply to these positions, but can also take part in an affiliate program and recommend another candidate from outside the company for the position. In case that person is offered a contract, they can get a personal bonus. Corporations run such programs for a good reason: they know that smart people who think alike, flock together. So, if their own employees have friends who are now hunting for jobs, the chances are that these friends would fit the company culture as well.

In general, it is beneficial to come to the interview as a person recommended by the company employee. In that case, the hiring managers will also get notified who recommended you. If the referring employee is highly trusted within that department, it might give you a tiny advantage in the recruitment process. It is also why networking comes so handy in job hunting even when it comes to corporations—where, at least officially, the whole process is open, transparent, and inclusive.

As for the recruitment process itself, unfortunately, it is usually highly standardized. The hiring manager, as well as the rest of the hiring team, are usually employees without any (considerable) shares in the company. As such, they only represent the real owners and other stakeholders of the business, and their interests.

Therefore, they need to follow strict guidelines and if they make bets on the candidates, it bears some personal risk. The bigger the company, the more complex and procedural the process usually is. To even get to the interview, you might need to pass a few rounds of selection first, including:

  1. Prescreening your application documents with an automated software. It is done to check if your application documents contain vocabulary related to the job offer. If that’s the case, it is a sign to the recruiter that it is not yet another generic application and that it is worth to give it a read,
  2. Passing a round of personality-, motivation-, IQ- and/or other aptitude tests,
  3. Passing a preliminary interview on the phone.

It is worth mentioning that reputable corporations often come up with their own practices next to the standard recruitment practices and tools—practices that somewhat relate to the overall image of the company as an employer. 

For example, Google is well known for challenging the candidates with riddles aiming at testing their creativity and IQ—often in a funny and spontaneous way. They might, e.g., ask you, “Why are the lids in all the wells round?” It closely relates to the way Google wants to be perceived to the public opinion: as a place for creative, spontaneous, funny people thinking outside the box.

Typically, only a few percent of candidates ever make it to the interview. These  are the people who best fit the profile handled by the recruiter. A profile which you won’t know until the end of your recruitment procedure, as only the recruiter know that they are really looking for this time. And, they already have the “right answers”  to the interview questions that they will be looking for. 

Given how procedural the recruitment process in corporations is, it might be hard for you to get in if you are a person with a bright personality who speaks out their mind, acts and behaves in their own style. In the case, the chances are that corporate recruiters won’t be able to imagine you as a member of their team. Of course, they want to see enthusiasm and energy—but at the same time, they still want to make sure that you won’t be a trouble maker on the team.

Learning how to strategically play the interview to enchant the recruiter, read them well, and give them all the expected answers is an art. For this reason, it is hard to land a corporate job at your first ever corporate interview, especially if some of the other candidates worked in corporations before and have extensive experience with corporate job interviews. You will need to develop a lot of patience and give yourself credit of trust. Most job hunters fail multiple times before they learn the game and land their first corporate positions. 

Therefore, prepare for failure: apply for multiple positions at multiple employers, and assume that you will probably burn your first interview—or even a few of them. Taking this assumption can also take off some pressure from you shoulders and help you perform better!


Gatherings In a Family Atmosphere

Your corporate employer will try to convince you that the company is almost like a family. For this reason, they will also actively encourage you to invite your family to the yearly Open Days, or Family Days, and show them where and how your work. By the way, although officially, these events are optional, in fact you are expected to demonstrate your devotion to the company by “choosing” to join these events. And of course, by eagerly explaining to your family how your work and the company look in every detail. 

The same holds for company lunches and any other forms of social gatherings. They are, in fact, not optional. Of course, once in a while you can skip a lunch if you have a deadline or an important meeting. However, in general, you are expected to be there and build bonds with your team mates—even if it means biting sandwiches and  staring at each other in silence. It is all about the time spent with teammates, not about the topic of the conversation.