Corporate Careers Offer More Than You Think – Part 2

I’m a big believer in the power of positivity. It’s okay to complain and gripe about work now and again, but you can’t dwell in negativity–it’s just not good for you!

My goal with today’s post is to focus on the good in corporate work. Because the reality is corporate careers offer much more than you may think. 

As I explained in last week’s post, there are many benefits available to business professionals well beyond the expected good pay and benefits, like endless opportunities for professional development and lifelong learning.

But there’s also unexpected ways corporate careers offer a path to amazing life experiences.

Corporate Careers Offer Unexpected Life Experiences

As I’ve thought back on my past 20-25 years, I realized that some of the coolest experiences I enjoyed were a result of my job and working in corporate America.

When I first started my career, I hoped someday my job would provide an opportunity to travel overseas. I never imagined I would have dozens of amazing life experiences.

Like enjoying suite seats at Super Bowl XLIX, racing exotic cars at Las Vegas motor speedway, wine tasting in Sonoma, ocean kayaking in Kona, shaking hands with Magic Johnson, and many, many more.

Some of these experiences were given to me as a reward for a job well done, but the vast majority were part of general business activities, meetings, and events.

The point is, I wasn’t special and the companies I worked for weren’t exceptional. Perks like these are much more common than you may think in Corporate America.

So let’s dive into the fun-side of corporate work, and many ways “doing business” can bring unexpected enjoyment.

Team Building

Companies often encourage leaders to take time for team-building activities. Mostly this comes in the form of ice breakers or other exercises to kick off meetings and enable employees to get to know each other better.

However, it didn’t take long after starting my first job to learn that “team building” was often code for “team binging” – an excuse to escape the confines of cubicle land and engage in any activity that could include adult beverages. And do it on the company’s time and dime.

In the name of team building, you can spend afternoons bowling, golfing, axe throwing, racing go-carts, going on scavenger hunts, or finding a way out of escape rooms—which is then typically followed by drinks and appetizers. Or sometimes the activity itself centers around drinking, like wine tasting or pub crawls.

And sometimes, when business is good, team building can even extend to travel to cool destinations. A few of my more memorable team-building experiences included skiing in Aspen, 5-star dining in Carmel, and taking in a Broadway show in NYC. 

So yeah, team building/binging isn’t too bad.

Rewards & Recognition

It’s commonplace for companies to treat their high-performing employees to a ton of different perks and privileges.

First, there’s the basic employee rewards program, where you can earn points over time and redeem them toward different items. Eh, not all that exciting.

Next, you have rewards you can enjoy with friends or family. For example, gift cards to higher-end restaurant, like Flemings or Roy’s. Or get tickets to sporting events and concerts.

Thanks to my husband’s hard work, his company spoiled us with tickets to dozens of basketball, football and baseball games over the years, often times in suite seats. As a sports fans, this was an awesome work perk for us!

Then we have the next tier of recognition: incentive trips! And these aren’t just for sales reps who exceed quota. There are always MVP slots offered to professionals across the other business groups—finance, marketing, HR, etc.

Not only do these trips reward you (and your spouse) with 5-star hospitality at fabulous destinations, but they often include high-end gifts as well. I once brought home a smart flat-screen TV after a President’s Club trip!

Entertaining Clients & Partners

Some of the best work-related perks are the ones connected to business development and relationship building. Companies love to wine and dine their clients and business partners, and will spend big bucks to do it up right.

High-end restaurants and private golf outings are often the preferred venues for entertaining clients and business partners. Coming in a close second are premier sporting events, like PGA tournaments, NCAA games, Super Bowls, College Bowls, and more. If you work in sales, biz dev or customer support, there’s a good chance you’ll get to benefit from much of the above.

For the uber special clients and partners, companies will often host events that include spouses at deluxe destinations—think Ritz Carleton and Four Seasons type resorts. However, participation at these events is typically limited senior leaders. A good reason to keep working on that promotion!

Business Travel

And then there’s the perks of business travel. Yes, business travel can be a huge hassle—taking you away from your family and routines. But there’s also a few big upsides to business travel.

One such benefit is the ability to extend your stay into a personal holiday and experience cool new places. If your business travel takes you to a fun destination, stay over the weekend (or longer) and take in the sights. And best of all, do it at a fraction of the cost of a typical vacation since your flights (and sometimes meals too) are covered by your company.

I did this several times, and even had my husband meet me a few times. Thanks to my business travel, I saw the pandas in Chengdu, enjoyed afternoon tea in London, toured Sagrada Familia in Barcelona, and celebrated Fasching in Munich!

Another big benefit of business travel is earning points and redeeming for FREE vacations. Sign up for all the travel cards, hotel loyalty, and frequent flier programs (Marriott Bonvoy, Hilton Honors, American AAdvantage, United MileagePlus, Chase Saphire, etc.), stockpile the points and redeem for flights and hotel nights. These can easily be worth thousands of dollars in free travel.

And one more big benefit of business travel is gaining preferred status. If you’re traveling a ton, you’re going to quickly earn top-tier status with airlines and hotels. And this means access to big-time perks like priority boarding, first-class upgrades, free checked bags, complimentary drinks, upgraded hotel rooms, free breakfasts, lounge access, late checkouts, and much, much more to make you feel incredibly special.

I will say preferred status is the one benefit I miss the most from my time in corporate America. Once you’ve experienced the spoils of status, it’s hard to go back to being just a regular traveler.

Gifts Galore

Companies love to hand out branded swag! And while much of it comes in the form of smaller stuff, like mugs, water bottles, and notepads, you can also expect to take home some higher-end gifts too.

Industry conferences are full of swag. You can start the event off with a goodie bag of necessities, like lip balms, snacks, eco-friendly totes, and more. Then hit all the different booths and gather more giveaways, like branded apparel, travel items, sporting goods, and even smaller electronics.

And odds are that any internal “kick off” meeting you attend for your company will come with some type of welcome gifts, like golf shirts, t-shirts, hoodies, jackets, etc.

Then there are the end-of-year gifts to show employee appreciation. One of the companies I worked for held a holiday drawing for employees to win bigger-ticket items, like speakers, headphones, iPads, kindle readers, airline vouchers, and even laptop computers. People loved it!

If you work with external vendors, chances are you’ll receive holiday gifts to show you some client appreciation too.

And last, December is a great time to hang out with your marketing colleagues. This is when you can find them clearing out the goody closet to make room for the new stuff.

Inspirational Speakers

Another fantastic perk for corporate professionals is the opportunity to hear from truly inspiring speakers and entertainers.

Companies love to bring in guest celebrities to motivate and entertain teams, especially at employee events, leadership summits, and client conferences. And I don’t think any industry conference would be complete without at least one headline speaker.

A few of my personal favorites were hearing talks from Ariana Huffington, Brene Brown, Marcus Buckingham and even former President Clinton. Then there were super entertaining sessions with comedians, athletes, and celebrities, like Frank Caliendo, Billy Beane and Magic Johnson.

But the most memorable and inspiring speakers were the ones who shared amazing stories of perseverance, like Regina Calcettera, Aaron Lee Ralston and Warren McDonald. Regina brought me to tears, and that’s not an easy thing to do!

So yeah, hearing stories from truly impressive people up close and personal is another very cool work-related experience!

Gaining Friends & Giving Back

I saved the best for last.

One of the best perks of working in a corporate environment are the friendships you gain. Not just a network of business associates, which you’ll benefit from as well, but genuine friendships with colleagues that last well after you stop working together.

And last, there’s the benefit of giving back to your communities. All big companies have sponsored giving programs, like offering paid time off to volunteer, matching donations to various non-profit organizations, or running united way campaign drives.

But there’s also grassroot efforts where coworkers come together on their own to make a meaningful difference for others. Like sending care packages to soldiers, delivering gifts to underprivileged children, volunteering to upgrade a playground, or raising money to cover medical bills for a colleague in need.

These are the benefits that make your heart full and happy.

Make the Most Out of a Corporate Career 

Here’s the thing. I know corporate work can be a grind.

There will be days you want to throw in the towel. When you just can’t take one more minute dealing with bad bosses, annoying coworkers, political power plays, and pointless meetings. When you’ll be frustrated beyond belief and want to do something new.

Maybe this is you now? If so, don’t be so quick to walk away.

There could also be days when you’re laughing so hard with coworkers it brings tears to your eyes. When you cannot believe you’re getting paid to entertain clients at the Masters Tournament. When you pinch yourself for earning your MBA on your company’s dime. Or when you fill with pride for how your team came together to help the less fortunate.  

The point is, corporate America can be a great place to grow your career.

My message to you: make the most out of what a corporate career can offer—there’s more within your reach than you may think. Like a path to financial freedom, lifelong learning, and very cool life experiences.



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