Everyone dreams of having a successful career but getting there isn’t always as easy as you imagine. I know this from experience. If you told my 18-year old self that a girl from the north of England would be living in California and working in the ad tech industry, I wouldn’t have believed you. 

I had an atypical path to a career in advertising. I knew I wanted to work in the industry, but I was unsure of where to start or even what specific area I wanted to be in. I started working at a small consulting company where I was doing a lot of technical writing and market research. My boss saw that these weren’t my greatest strengths. She identified talent in me for a more customer-facing role and I was given the opportunity to build out the sales and marketing side of the company. 

This is where my career started to take a turn towards media sales, selling advertisements to publications which eventually morphed into online digital media. I guess you could say the rest is history. Looking back on where I started to where I am today, there are specific things that I discovered helped cultivate a more successful career. 

Here are my top six tips for a successful and fulfilling career:

Find a mentor
A mentor is a great resource for someone looking to grow their career. Remember that boss I previously mentioned? She eventually became a mentor to me. She was teaching me on the fly and I was learning as I went. With her experience, she was able to teach me things that I wouldn’t have learned for years and threw me into situations that made me step outside of my comfort zone.

Strengthen your problem-solving skills
Good problem-solving skills is a desired trait for many employers. Employers are looking for people who are comfortable with making decisions and are confident enough in their own abilities to take responsibility for how they rise to challenges in the workplace. 

This is one skill that I think made me stand out in my career. I was able to easily assess a situation and analyze the information. In fact, this is a skill I look at when hiring for my team. The combination of analytical and creative thinking can create positive results and make my day-to-day life that much easier.

Improve your emotional intelligence
Emotional intelligence is important to make sound decisions, build and sustain collaborative relationships, deal effectively with stress, and cope to a greater degree with constant change. This is even more important in today’s workplace culture where achieving project goals while working with remote teams has become more common.

Get scrappy
Being scrappy is committing to a result at all costs and doing whatever it takes to get that result. And getting there isn’t always pretty? It requires you to get your hands dirty. There were times when my mentor would give me things to do that I had no clue about or put me in situations where I felt like a fish out of water. I had to quickly adapt to the situation and learn how to get things done. 

Be strategic
Strategy is a complex concept. In terms of your career, being strategic means being able to think long-term, plan actions that focus on growing a sustainable business, and have a clear vision, outcome, and milestone. Being able to do these things makes you a valuable asset to a team. It’s so easy to get stuck in the little details so it’s important to be able to look at the bigger picture and create and execute a plan from there. 

Build a support system
Find people in your organization that support you, give you the autonomy and responsibility you’re looking for. That’s how you’re going to excel. Don’t accept a place of work where there aren’t people in your corner and you’re not given the opportunity to be your best. I’ve been at companies where there was a lot of bro culture and despite this, you can still succeed by finding your support system and surrounding yourself with good humans.

As cheesy as it sounds, your actions speak louder than words. Your actions are what will get you noticed and that’s how you can further excel in your career. I hope these tips will help you on your journey as they did mine.