In Defense of Corporate Jobs

Corporate job

I really admire entrepreneurs and folks who opted to save like crazy to gain financial independence and early retirement in their 30’s and 40’s.

These are typically smart, go-getter types who are the least likely to play the victim or complain about their realities.  These are the folks that know what they want and go after it.

But here’s the thing…their constant negative commentary about working a corporate job is starting to sound like a bad country song on repeat.

I get it. Most people who end up as entrepreneurs or save to become financially independent as soon possible, do so because they don’t like the idea of corporate jobs. They believe working 9 to 5 is something to escape and that cubicles are little 8-hour prison cells that no man or woman should have to spend 40 years working in.

Naturally, I can imagine they would feel this way or else they wouldn’t have the motivation to chose the path they did (which isn’t easy).  Entrepreneurship is hard and success is unlikely. Financial independence at an early age takes years of sacrifice and hard work, so they must have REALLY hated the idea of a 9 to 5 lifestyle in order to take the path they did.

But here’s the thing –  corporate life ain’t all that bad, folks. Just because you hated it doesn’t mean it’s a bad choice for someone else. As someone who has started several companies (and actually managed to sell one of them), I know how hard and lonely entrepreneurship can be. Working hard without a steady paycheck can be really stressful. Sure, you don’t have to be concerned with tyrannical bosses, but you do have to deal with tyrannical customers and investors, so that theory of being your own boss isn’t exactly true.

In the case of the financially independent and early retired community, while I commend your ability to live with less in order to have ultimate freedom, I question how free you can be if you have to live the rest of your young adult life on a very fixed income.

To be clear, I’m not knocking either choice. Like I said in the beginning of this post, I admire these two groups of individuals for their tenacity, fortitude, and creativity, so props to all those who chose this path and make it work for them. But can we drop the negativity around corporate careers? While they can seem stifling to you, they also have a lot of upside you don’t have.

  • They can be rewarding because you get to work on interesting problems without having to worry about not getting paid if the problem doesn’t get solved.
  • You don’t have to fix the printer, deal with irate customers or follow up on unpaid invoices (unless that’s your job).
  • Very often you enjoy handy perks like free or low-cost health care, tuition reimbursement and having a portion of your donations or 401K contributions matched.
  • By showing up at that same cubicle every day you get to build life-long friendships with the people around you.
  • You’re part of something bigger than yourself. You have people in finance, marketing, sales and manufacturing, all working towards the same goal as you.
  • You may even be lucky enough to get stock options from your company, making you a partial owner and that much closer to financial independence!

And the best part? If none of these benefits ring true for your current situation, you have 100% freedom to leave and find another gig that does, which is a huge bonus because leaving a job is way easier than leaving your own company. I know this first hand.

This may sound like I’m coming from a place of bitterness or envy, and well, in the case of the financially independent, there’s some truth to that. But overall, even if I could retire right now, I probably wouldn’t. I like to work. I like to contribute and I like being a part of a team. This is also why I’ve learned that entrepreneurship isn’t the best choice for everyone. I love structure, organization and creative resources at my disposal. I also love paychecks, stock options, and really good health care.

So in the spirit of overused hashtags that celebrate “rejecting the man” and doing things your own way, I’d like to take a moment to honor all those #girlbosses (and #boybosses, too) in corporate environments who do awesome things like keep the internet running, make sure your investment portfolios perform well, organize our health care system and make neat things like your iPhone or your car.

So consider this the next time you want to brag about how awesome it is to grocery shop at 2pm on a Tuesday….  #corporatejobssdrivetheglobaleconomy and #corporateworkersskeepthelightson #thankyouverymuch #dropsmic

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4 comments

  1. Good point. I don’t think we should be knocking any jobs. People love to make fun of the food industry or the construction industry, but we all use these services. I’ve only had corporate jobs, and sure, they aren’t fun. But the overall stability is amazing. We get benefits, PTO, and get to sit down for most of the day instead of hauling 300-pound bags of concrete. It ain’t too bad, folks. It has its downsides like any job.

    1. Agreed! and believe it or not, I’ve actually had fun in my corporate jobs. Not all the time, but yeah… it hasn’t been bad.