Corporate Adulting

An Introduction to Corporate Adulting

Corporate Adulting is my terminology for the lessons I have learned over the years as I moved through the ranks.

Monica Ojendyk
3 min readMay 4, 2020


Photo Credit: Shutterstock

When I started my first corporate role over 25 years ago as a client trainer, I was completely ignorant about what it meant to work in a corporation. Growing up in the Midwest in a town of around 2,000 people, I had never been exposed to a corporate environment. My parents were farmers and it simply was not the world I grew up in. There is a lot of character you build from growing up on a farm, but the rules of surviving farming and surviving corporate America don’t always overlap.

In the first few years, I know I made a lot of missteps. At each transition to a new level, I know I made more. Gaining familiarity with the “social conventions” of the corporate world, to quote Sheldon from The Big Bang Theory, sometimes came at the cost of feeling foolish or embarrassed because I lacked awareness. Other times, it came at the cost of not progressing in my career. Those are the lessons I most regret and were normally the most upsetting.

Over time, I learned the rules of the road for surviving in the corporate world. In keeping with today’s lingo, I call this concept “Corporate Adulting”. Corporate Adulting is my terminology for the lessons I have learned over the years as I moved through the ranks. In short, what I wish I had known before I learned the hard way.

I don’t think I am alone in having to learn the lessons of Corporate Adulting. Everyone has some level of having to learn the ropes in any role. Even if you grew up with a parent who worked in a corporate job, you may not fully understand Corporate Adulting until faced with the reality of existing in a corporate environment. Students who have completed an internship with a company have the best opportunity to ‘try before they buy’, but their experience is many times more carefully curated to showcase the best a company has to offer.

Some examples of Corporate Adulting Lessons that I have experienced and sometimes even learned:

· The need to brag, humble brag and selflessly promote

· Managing up, down and across

· The power behind the throne(s)

· What really happens behind the scenes in leadership meetings

· “Help me, help you” is not just for Jerry McGuire

· The importance of selecting a great boss

· The role of sponsorship in your career

· Be careful what you wish for, you just might get it

· When to apologize, when not to and when to just keep your mouth shut

· Lifting the veil of executive communications

· How much control leaders really have

· Never say never, Karma will make you do that very thing

· Your reputation and how it impacts your trajectory

· How to be a great employee

· Little details can make a big difference

· BCC and CYA emails

· The vantage and advantage of a leadership role

Over 25 years, there have been a lot of lessons — and I am still learning. In upcoming articles, I plan to explore each of these topics (and more) in depth in the hopes that it may help others who are embarking on or are in the midst of their Corporate Adulting journeys.

Please share in the comments — what are some Corporate Adulting lessons you have learned, or wish you knew more about? Feel free to use items from my list. I look forward to seeing your feedback!

Thanks for reading! Read more of my Corporate Adulting Blog series at



Monica Ojendyk

Seasoned executive leader, great cook, mom and wife. Farmer’s daughter, head cheerleader and avid reader. Superpower: Unsolicited Advice and Shopping.