How can I become a corporate drone?
January 25, 2012 9:45 AM   Subscribe

How do I get a job as a corporate drone?

In many TV shows and movies, there are people who work for a large corporation doing some ambiguous task that requires them to sit at a cubicle all day. They will often be new college grads or a few years out of school. Supervision is minimal or non-existent.

What are these jobs? How does one get them?
posted by stedman15 to Work & Money (20 answers total) 27 users marked this as a favorite
Wow, welcome to my world. My title is "project coordinator."

Temp agencies are a good place to start.
posted by desjardins at 9:47 AM on January 25, 2012 [4 favorites]

Best answer: Yup, temp agency. I've been this little cog in the corporate wheel more times than I can count; thankfully it was always temporary! But there were many opportunities to make it permanent if I'd wanted to.

Just give them a resume that shows some basic computer skills and any office experience you have, and tell them you want any kind of entry-level office job. If you're hired, either temp or perm, there's a good chance you won't have to stay in the exact position you start out in. So don't reject, say, a receptionist job just because it's not quite drone-like enough. It could very well lead to something more drone-like in a few months.
posted by DestinationUnknown at 9:57 AM on January 25, 2012 [4 favorites]

Are you talking about film extras or the actual jobs?

If you want to be an extra, look calls of extras online or in the papers. On the other hand, if you want the actual "corporate drone" job you want to basically look for any entry-level position. As desjardin's said, temp agencies are a good place to start. I can't promise it'll be ambiguous work, but it's likely to be monotonous.

Keep in mind that films often work off stereotypes and generalizations. Life isn't so simple. Don't go into your new job with the impression that you won't be held accountable for your work. You will be supervised and if you do not perform you will be fired.
posted by fanipman at 9:59 AM on January 25, 2012

Best answer: Project coordinator. Program analyst. Data clerk / data entry clerk. Records administration. Office automation clerk. Office assistant.

These are just a few of the possible job titles you would look for. Essentially, many of them involve entering, checking, and updating information. This could be client records, corporate records, schedules, correspondence, or any of a countless number of things. You may work with Microsoft Office programs, or a special database unique to that organization.

But as fanipman says, even though you may work independently without someone literally looking over your shoulder, your work will be subject to review for accuracy, speed, and proficiency. It may even be tracked automatically by the very software you are using.

This doesn't make it a bad job. My job is mostly dealing with data and schedules, working idependently and contacting others when I need information from them and attending a handful of meetings at the end of each month. I kind of like it, but I have a lot of freedom to work at my own pace as long as everything gets done. That means there are some relatively relaxing times, and some very stressful times.

In short, if you have a good work ethic and know or can learn the programs and procedures the organization uses, you could find it a good fit. Or it could drive you crazy.
posted by The Deej at 10:09 AM on January 25, 2012 [3 favorites]

In my case, it's "secretary." And I got that job through temping, and got hired full time by being unusually and insanely good at one weird task (filling expense reports for business trips -- they actually call me "the expense Ninja").

Although, there may not be as much sitting-at-your-desk involved in secretarial work as you'd think (I've had to do an AWFUL lot of running around for the past couple days, even with everyone "going easy on my broken foot").
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 10:11 AM on January 25, 2012 [1 favorite]

Become an administrative assistant. You will do lots of repetitive, mind-and-soul-numbing work, and no one will know you exist unless you don't get something done on time. You get one by knowing your way around MS Office, and being able to touch-type.
posted by MexicanYenta at 10:26 AM on January 25, 2012 [2 favorites]

Best answer: Typical industries here tend to be in the insurance and finance sectors, though I imagine you can find an office job for just about any large corporation, as long as they have offices in your city. I remember having looked up the "largest companies in 'x' city" on Wikipedia at one point -- it could be a starting point for you if you're seriously interested.

Temp agencies are also great, as mentioned above. Most new hires at my (large, multi-national company) office branch tend to be temp-to-hire employees.
posted by erstwhile at 10:26 AM on January 25, 2012

I was the lone graphic designer in a small company. I spent my day in a small cube, doing stuff no one else really cared about. Does that count?
posted by Thorzdad at 10:26 AM on January 25, 2012

If you think about it, people in movies and tv also always have enormous apartments or homes that are perfectly appointed and apparently never need cleaning, either. If you apply that analogy to the jobs those people have you'll get a good idea of how those 'office drone' roles might be misleading as well.

It's a dreadful way to get in the door, but if you work on the phone at a call center you can usually find a way to get off the phone after a year or two. It is a truly terrible job, though, and supervision is at panopticon levels until you do escape the phone.
posted by winna at 10:44 AM on January 25, 2012 [1 favorite]

Best answer: I"m that corporate drone-it's actually rather nice to sit at a desk all day and do work with being bothered. My title is Business Analyst-but it's a fancy way of saying Data Analyst-I provide data (reports, excel exports..etc) to all different business units. Skills needed are database skills, be somewhat analytical and have good communication.
posted by duddes02 at 11:01 AM on January 25, 2012 [2 favorites]

The fact that you are asking this question indicates pretty much any job you get in corporate America is going to be entry level and drone like. So start applying :) Just don't admit to wanting a drone job. It's counter-intuitive, but corporate America wants ambitious go-getters to be their drones.
posted by COD at 11:22 AM on January 25, 2012 [4 favorites]

There are a few people in my office - and I assume other locations - who sit in their cubes and do no work. However, they spend an unholy amount of time and energy either sucking up or making legal threats or both in order to keep their no-work jobs and sooner or later their protector or whoever is afraid of their legal threat is transferred to Omaha or Japan and drone is drubbed out and the rest of us feel bad about feeling good about someone losing a job.
posted by Lesser Shrew at 11:34 AM on January 25, 2012

Anything with "analyst" means you will do Excel work. Meaning computer work. Seek the "analyst" title, and the glory of corporate drone shall be yours. Go my child!
posted by amazingstill at 11:35 AM on January 25, 2012 [9 favorites]

If you have basic knowledge of Microsoft Office products, can type reasonably well and can use a computer go to a temp agency and get a data entry job or something with the words clerk or clerical in. Also any sort of Accounts clerk work. Bookkeeper is even better for being left alone, no one wants to talk to you when you're a bookkeeper, but that can take some training.
posted by wwax at 12:22 PM on January 25, 2012

I was once a non-profit drone (the lower-paid sibling of the corporate drone) with the title of "Research Assistant." I used Excel and Access all day and entered data into spreadsheets, made a few phone calls at the end of the month, and got really into Craigslist's Rants & Raves for a while there. Stretching 2 hours of work over an 8 hour day is tough!
posted by jabes at 12:28 PM on January 25, 2012 [1 favorite]

There's all sorts of paper pushing to be done at health care facilities or colleges.
posted by ThePinkSuperhero at 12:39 PM on January 25, 2012

Oooh, I'm a Research Administration Analyst. I work in a grey cube all day. I have no windows. I work on a team. We mostly speak to share cute videos of animals on YouTube. Otherwise, we muck around in databases, review contracts, and troubleshoot when someone calls our hotline to say that they can't access the database. I work for a major cancer research institute.
posted by jph at 1:28 PM on January 25, 2012 [2 favorites]

The nice thing about being a corporate drone is that your boss gets to choose who gets all the good resume fluffing projects, and it'll never be you! It's GREAT!
posted by Yowser at 6:48 PM on January 25, 2012

If it's a career in paper-pushing you're after, it needn't be corporate. Apply online, get on the waiting list, take an entry-level government job (city, state or federal) and with a little luck, after not too long, you'll be another bureaucrat "doing some ambiguous task that requires sitting at a cubicle all day."
posted by Rash at 10:40 PM on January 25, 2012

Best answer: You'll need to show some aptitude for being able to put up with ridiculous amounts of detailed minutiae being thrown at you, that will metaphorically appear like a fog composed of microscopic droplets of the dumbest bullshit you'll ever encounter.

Being able to indicate that you will not only survive, but thrive in that fog with a bright-eyed and bushy-tailed "thank you! May I please have another!" naive smile on your face is a good thing.

If you can throw that attitude into every interaction have at any job you have, then you will attract the attention of those who can bring into the stupefying, yet well compensated ranks of the drones.

(this how I did it!)
posted by roboton666 at 11:31 PM on January 25, 2012 [5 favorites]

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