Career Firsts: How I Got My First Promotion

Hustle, hard work, and maybe a little bit of luck–these are a few things that can help you earn for your first promotion.

As you kick off your career path, climbing the professional ladder will no doubt be on your mind. And while there's no secret phrase that will earn you a promotion, some hard work and maybe a few words of wisdom can help you along the way. We asked two members of Team SN to share their very first promotion stories (one of which took place here at SN!)–read on for every detail.

Meghan: Articulate Your Goals and Go Above and Beyond

My first real job out of college was as a Media Sales Assistant at Glamour–I absolutely loved it. I assisted three sales reps and knew early on from observing them in their roles that I wanted to go into sales, particularly at a brand like Glamour that I was passionate about. I expressed this to my bosses at the time who were very supportive of that goal, but advised I needed to earn my stripes and put in at least a year as an assistant, and then they would help me take the next step into sales. They also warned though, that sales positions at Condé Nast were few and far between, and that I would likely need to go to an agency first to work on “the other side of things” before making the jump into ad sales, which was traditionally held for more tenured employees. Although my chances of going straight from sales assistant to sales rep seemed slim (that’s what everyone in the industry told me at least), I was determined to prove to both my managers and the rest of the leadership team at Glamour that I was capable of making the jump without working at an agency in between. To do this, I knew I needed to work overtime. During the day, I tended to my more admin-level tasks and general R&R, but after hours I would research my bosses’ account lists–I’d send them competitive analysis’, pitch ideas, and more. I proved to them that I knew more about their clients’ business than anyone, and so I started going on sales calls with them because they saw me as an asset.

A year into the job, I revisited the conversation of being promoted to a sales rep. While there weren’t any positions open at Glamour, one of my bosses knew of an open role as an Account Executive at Architectural Digest (my favorite publication in the world) which would be an internal promotion under the Condé Nast umbrella. I ended up getting promoted to Account Executive at AD, thanks to the support of my bosses and referral of the Glamour publisher at the time, and of course serious preparation that went into the interview process! Ultimately, in expressing my goals early on combined with going above and beyond to prove myself, I was able to plant seeds for what I wanted and then bring those goals to fruition. My biggest recommendation to be vocal about your goals early on–then, you must put in the work to achieve them. Beyond that, attitude is everything. I always say, if you’re easy to work with, then you’re more than halfway there–when you’re easy to work with, people WANT to promote you and are willing to fight for you.

Sincerely Media Via Unsplash

Sydney: Learn How to Advocate For Yourself

I started at Something Navy as an intern post-graduation, so I felt a slight sense of urgency after about 6 months to discuss growth opportunities within the company since my role was not full time yet. I came on board at a time when a lot was changing within the company which was exciting because we were expanding quickly, but this made the cadence a bit unconventional in my specific experience. I was super nervous but also excited to bring up the conversation with my manager at the time. Nervous because I wanted it so badly, but also because no time felt like the “right time” since the company was going through many changes. But, I was excited to take the leap and wouldn’t change a thing!

The biggest lesson I learned was that even though sometimes advocating for yourself can be uncomfortable, it is so important. I would say this was the hardest part for me, working up the courage to ask for what I wanted to move forward in my career, just because it was my first job out of college and I felt slightly intimidated, nervous, and wanted to make the best possible impression. I wanted to make sure how clear it was that I was so grateful for my internship opportunity, but that I was ready for something permanent and to grow within the company that I admired. No one can advocate for you better than yourself. I prepared for the conversation by making a list of things that I had accomplished during my time with the company, how I thought I could be an asset moving forward, and where I saw room for growth. In my opinion, it’s easy for anyone to come up with things they’re good at, but it's also important to set goals for yourself and explain why you think that company is the one place where you can truly see yourself hitting those goals. We are all constantly growing, and it's important to highlight your strengths and accomplishments as we continue to grow. My best piece of advice is to take the leap, embrace what may feel like an uncomfortable conversation, know your worth, and set goals for yourself. Good things come to those who hustle!