How-To: Fake it to make it in corporate America

I just celebrated my one month milestone at my internship. With four out of eleven weeks under my belt, I have come to realize a few things about how to stand out among other interns, and even full-time employees. Are you ready?

Fake it! But more importantly, don’t.

  1. Feel the vibe. You can almost instantly decode where everyone stands on a team, and how they interact with one another. Pay attention to senses of humor, body language, and even the way that people speak. Play off of their mannerisms and you’ll quickly align with the team.
  2. Steer clear of touchy subjects. Use caution when talking about matters that aren’t work related. Politics, religion, and personal ideologies are heavy subjects that shouldn’t be brought up in the work place. You don’t want HR on your back because you made a joke about your coworkers beliefs. Even if someone else starts the topic, it’s always best to change the subject and ignore the comment. My point is — you never know who is listening. You wouldn’t want the CFO to walk by your cubicle as you explain how the 40 hour work week stems from Hitler’s ideologies (I’m not kidding, someone actually did this).
  3. Skype for business is only for business. You never know who is sharing their screen or who could see instant messages. And trust me, the consequences will be just as instant. If you have something to share that isn’t work related, think about the consequences of your words before sharing, and do so in person. Eventually, someone will see a message that shouldn’t have been seen, and it could cost you your job, seriously.
  4. Likewise, Excel is for data, only. Don’t get caught drawing inappropriate images by highlighting excel cells. A higher-up could walk behind your desk and see a neon private part drawn out on an Excel document, and you will lose your job. I really wish I made this example up.

On a serious note, fitting in anywhere involves a little bit of faking it to make it. The key is knowing what to fake, and what not to fake. Don’t fake interest or knowledge, but feel free to nod your head every now and then at a meeting even if you’re slightly confused.

When it comes to people and your own tasks, be honest with what you know and what you need help with. At the end of the day, your name is on the project. Treat your work with the same respect as you treat yourself as a person. In a way, your work is an extension of who you are as a person.

Thumbs up for being genuine!

Likewise, respect those around you. People can tell when your interest is genuine and especially when it’s not. If you’re not fond of children, don’t ask your boss about his newborn twins. Choose topics that you enjoy talking about and ask about those. Finding common interests is key in making connections, and genuine connections can only benefit your future. After all, the future you is your best investment.