TL; DR: Survival guide for working in a corporate environment, i.e. “CorporateLand”, where a lot of you will spend at least some of your time. As a guy who has worked for three Fortune 500 companies and two Fortune Global 100 companies, here's some advice about playing the corporate game. N.B.: This is going to be fairly long. If you don't like reading long posts, there are other posts to read. [EDIT1: I still suck at formatting. EDIT2: Added 'Rant' flair. EDIT3: Added the bit about System Admins, and not flipping guys for no reason.]
Body: A Guide to the Rat Race for New Rats.
Make friends with HR.
HR is the Elephants' Graveyard for people with No Fucking Talent. There is, inevitably, one person (and usually only one) who does not have their head completely up their ass. Buddy up with her (and it's always a 'her') and make sure she handles all your HR needs, because otherwise whatever you need done will get fucked up by girls and/or AA hires who are just there for the numbers. The last thing they want to do is actual work. They want to enjoy their 9-to-5 coffin, collect their paychecks and go home. Sure, there are talented women and minorities...but not in HR.
Make friends With IT.
[Editing to add /u/redpillbanana's excellent suggestion.] IT sees you when you're sleeping and knows when you're awake, and the Eye in the Sky Doesn't Lie (as we used to say back in my football days). They know what sites you visit, etc., etc. Thus you need to be a believer in the Separation of Work and State. My work laptop history (and I mean that thing that can't be erased by 'private' browsing, or whatever) has entirely mundane shit on it. Sites that are for work or work-related (research, travel, etc.) I visit other sites (personal business, news, TRP, etc.) on my other devices and never the twain shall meet. I don't use company wifi for personal devices, either. I keep two mobile phones: work and personal. The joke around work has always been that it's my "bat phone".1
Where I work, now, I have a good relationship with the CIO (or whatever his title is), but also his underlings. The CIO is big into getting feed back abt how his dept performs, and I always send him an email to the effect that his guys did a great job for me, which they usually do. If I have a problem with a guy, I handle it with the guy. It costs me nothing and buys me some goodwill. You might need a friend in IT someday. IT is never going to land a $20M contract with a new customer. They're like the CIA; you only hear about their failures.
Don't Flip a Guy For No Reason
You're going to be working with some people that you don't like. Maybe someone's just having a bad day, or maybe he's an asshole. Equanimity should be the rule for noobs. Don't let yourself get pushed around, but realize you will not always have the whip hand.
Once, a guy stiffed me on a referral fee. It would have been two grand, maybe a bit more. Less than $2500 for sure. And he screwed me on it. I reached out to him and he didn't respond. Not only did he never got another referral from me again, and I also drove a few hundred thousand dollars away from his firm. I hope it was worth it.
Sometimes, it pays to acknowledge the elephant in the room. I worked with another guy who was a salesman. The problem was, he couldn't sell. What he could do was blame other people for his failures. Anyway, I came out of my office one day, and there he was coming down the hallway towards me. "Great", I thought, "This asshole." So I said to him, "Joe, the thing I like about you, and it's the ONLY thing I like about you, is that it pisses you off MORE to see me coming than it does me to see you coming." Inexplicably, we got a long a lot better after that.
Hide in Plain Sight
Sort of like being the "Gray Man". Do your job, get paid, and enjoy your life from 5pm to 9am. Nobody is working in CorporateLand because it's so fucking cool and awesome, not even the folks at Google (ok, maybe Google, but not 99% of the rest of everyone else). We're there for the paycheck.
But Can You Bang The Hotties at Work?
Don't Mistake Your "Work Friends" for your "Real Friends"
Sure, there are some cool people at work, and some of them will cross over into the "real friends" category, but not as many as you think. You're there to do your job, and get paid.
But really, Why Can't I Bang the Hotties at Work?
It's work not a singles bar. And there likely won't be a ton of hotties. You're not in University any more. There will be the occasional hot secretary or secret slut over in accounting. Do.Not.Bang. If you do bang, try to bang someone with more to lose than you do, so you don't find yourself on an ice floe.
Sure, maybe it will work out fine. Or maybe you will have to explain how a rising star such as you got tossed out of ABC Widgets in your next interview. I used to fuck a 23 y.o. admin over lunch a couple of times a week. Until her fiance figured out that she was getting some strange. They have three kids now. I don't think any of them are mine. Anyway, do as I say, not as I did. I'm smarter now, and you should be, too.
Secure the Perimeter
Whether it was business or personal, I tried to make sure that nobody came to my boss with anything that was a surprise. If anyone asks your boss a question about you, it's better for him to know the answer because he heard it from you first.
Don't Get Overdrawn at the Favor Bank
There will be times when you will need a friend. It's ok to do favors for people, take on a project or two, because someday...you will need a friend. I covered another person's region after they moved on, and kept everything afloat. Since I work for a corporation, they didn't pay me commensurate with the work I did, but I regarded it as sweat equity. A good reputation is a powerful shield.
Contain your enemies, as George Kennan advised in The Long Telegram. Do not escalate into a hot war if at all possible, while not suffering any loss of prestige.
At a former job, I had an issue with a female co-worker. The issue was that I didn't want to do her work for her, and she needed me to, because she wasn't very good at it. She also complained that she "had kids" and couldn't stay late and do it.
I value my free time. Also, my name is not Rumple-fucking-Stiltskin, and it's not my job to stay late, for no extra pay, to do someone else's work for her because she got promoted into a job she lacked the talent for. Now, if someone needs my help and asks for it, and has been an ally in the past, etc., I will probably do it on a one-off basis. It can often be useful to have a positive balance in the "Favor Bank".
She started screaming at me one day that I 'had' to do thus and so for her, and I told her to get stuffed (not the exact words, but that was the subtext). She freaked and went to her boss, who went to my boss. What a cunt. That was my boss' assessment, after I had given him my side of the story. And he was right.
So what did I do? Having explained shit to my boss (and I had a story to tell, how she tries to dump her work on me because she can't do it, and how I solved a bunch of shit because it's easy for me, and I'm willing to take one for the team once in a while, but I'm not simply going to be her bitch because she has a vagina and feels entitled.) My boss handled it with the other guy. Then he brought it up again two days later. I was able to quell it (I think she was still yapping; I had dummied up about it).
So what to do now? Two things: First, I went to HR. I had cultivated the Powers That Be in HR, so I had a built in Firewall. The best part was that the HMFIC in HR loved me and HATED the chick who was giving me shit. So that was that.
The second thing I did was start looking for a new job. They can't fuck with you when you have options. So I found a better job and make 50% more than I would if I had stayed put. So fuck her. I also let other work she tried to dump on me stack up and then gave it all back to her on my way out the door. Muhahahahahahahahaha!
Make Yourself Indispensable, and Then Disappear
I basically work from wherever I want to and don't have to go into an office anymore--it is Fucking HEAVEN! I do go in, from time to time, but only to renew connections and to see if they've hired any new talent, by which I mean 22 y.o. girls with tight 22 y.o. asses. (N.B. Don’t shit where you eat, of course.)
Remember the 'sweat equity' part? That helped. Go read "The Four Hour Work Week" by Tim Ferriss and "How to Relax Without Getting the Axe" by Stanley Bing. Bing has a whole section on doing what I do, pretty much.
How do I get away with it? I perform at a high level, I am always reachable, I have a unique set of skills and my employer understands that he pays me for PERFORMANCE not for attendance.
Have a Plan For When Shit Goes Bad
Always have two escape routes. Eventually, you are going to want to move up or move on. If I didn't like what I do for a living, I could walk away and still make six figures doing what I do on the side, and by leveraging my contacts. Someday, I will do that, anyway.
Most people in CorporateLand are not curing cancer. That's fine. AFAIAC, my job exists to fund my lifestyle. Nobody on their death bed says, "I wish I'd spent more time at the office." As the Christians say, be in the world, but not of the world. Or something like that.
A word about lifestyle: The only reason to work in a corporation is to make a shit-ton of money. If you are not, then go do something else. And whatever you do, don’t outspend your paycheck. Save Crowns and Pounds and Farthings. You will need a war chest someday.
Look, I got over. Sure, the economy sucked ass when I got out and I fought back and found a way to prosperity. Kids today are getting factored to a fare thee well. Think long and hard before taking the CEO’s shilling.
1 This is exactly what Tiger Woods should have had. If he'd had a second phone that (a) was identical to whatever phone his caddy/major domo/little helper guy had and (b) HAD A FUCKING PASSWORD ON IT, he wouldn't have wound up being chased down his driveway by his golf club-wielding wife. Dumb, dumb, dumb. When his wife found it, he could have said, "Oh, that's [name of sidekick]'s phone. I'll take that and return it to him, thanks." I think that he gets busted eventually, anyway, b/c that guy was fucking half the women in America, but who knows.
LESSON 1: Be Loyal…To Yourself. The days of walking into IBM or GM or GE at 21 and walking out at 65 with a fat pension and a gold watch are Way Long Gone. It's every man for himself these days, BUT....it need not be "Lord of the Flies".
Every article you see titled "Gen X and Gen Y Have No Work Ethic" should be titled "Gen X and Gen Y refuse to be Treated Like Commodities; Boomers OUTRAGED!"
Why the Boomers expect loyalty when they offer none is beyond me. The RP Man in CorporateLand should have loyalty to (a) his paycheck and (b) those of his colleagues who have proven themselves worthy. That's it. The assholes in the C-Suite would just as happily fire you if it would make their stock go up a nickel as look at you.
LESSON 2: Have Options. Learn a trade. Be able to do something so you aren’t dependent on a CorporateLand paycheck. I think the modern trend is going to be away toward entrepreneurship. One of the difficulties we face as a society is, "where will the jobs come from?" That is why I recommend that men have a trade. If you have a trade, then you won't go hungry. Sure, technology is disruptive (yes, I am looking at you, Uber) but nobody in China or India or on the internet is going to fix your plumbing.
LESSON 3: Avoid Debt. The LAST fucking thing I would recommend is piling on educational debt to the tune of $500k to get a BA and JD or whatever. It's a disaster. The generation behind me can't buy houses because they're getting ass-raped on tuition and debt service thereon. It's fucking INSANE. And the degrees people get, now. Gender Studies? I'd rather my daughter was a hooker; at least she'd be giving VALUE for her pay. I sit on our hiring committee and I ding everyone who has a shitstain degree. Women's Studies? Best case she's merely a lazy cunt. Worst case, she's a lazy cunt who sues the firm. Fuck that. Same thing with anything else that's fucked up.
Good luck, now go forth and SLAY!