The ladder of success: How to advance your career, one step at a time

By Carly Ekstein and Dory Kashin

In today’s hyper-competitive world, it is no longer enough to complete a college or university program, enter the workforce, and expect to climb the corporate ladder. These days it is imperative to differentiate yourself and your approach to work so that you stand out in the minds of your employers, clients and colleagues. Your career moves must be mindful, deliberate and well thought out.

How to advance your careerWhat you can do now

Although you are forward thinking and planning for your career advancement, it is important to make the most of your current position and take advantage of all of the learning opportunities available to you. If you are looking to advance in your current role within your organizations or within your industry as a whole, you must consider the following things:

  • Don’t burn bridges. Be friendly and approachable with anyone you may encounter in your role — clients, colleagues, industry peers, mentors and bosses. You always want people to have a good impression of you and the work you do. This will come in handy when you are looking for different opportunities in the future.
  • Ask for written endorsements and recommendations. Written reference letters or endorsements on LinkedIn are a great way to highlight and showcase your successes. This is something you should ask your managers, bosses and even colleagues to do for you as you hit certain milestones or complete various projects.
  • Remember, if you are making a career move, be sure to put in 100 per cent effort until your very last day — you always want to leave on a positive note!

Internship, co-op placement and job shadowing

Depending on what stage of your career you are in, undertaking an internship, co-op placement or shadowing a seasoned professional may provide many benefits to your career advancement:

  • They will allow you to hone in on the areas of the industry you are most interested in. Be sure to try out different areas of your sector — now is the best time do it before you settle into an industry specific career.
  • They will provide you with invaluable industry experience. Internships, co-op placements, and job shadowing puts you in front of potential employers and industry mentors.
  • Take this time to enhance your skills and try things you have never done before! You can take these skills into your future roles. Everyone learns best from their mistakes so take this time to make mistakes and learn from them.

Professional development

Professional development comes in many forms. Try and participate in as many of the following as possible. The key here is constant improvement and ensuring that you are always relevant in your role and in the industry.

  • Attend industry conferences, workshops, seminars and tradeshows. Do your research; there are many different events out there at all different price points. Attend as many as you can; you will meet lots of different people and learn all about the hot industry topics.
  • Accreditation: Studying to attain an industry accreditation or acquiring additional certifications provides credibility to candidates for skills that are directly or indirectly related to your role or the role you hope to occupy in the future.
  • Join an industry association. A professional association is an organization composed of members of a particular profession that regulates entry to and sets and maintains standards for that profession. The benefit of joining an association is that you will be surrounded by like-minded individuals who can chat about industry related topics with you, give you insight and perspective while sharing their experiences. Joining an association will keep you relevant, up to date, and in the know of what’s happening in your industry. Your fellow association members can act like a resource to you.

Volunteer your time and expertise

Give back to the community and industry that has taught you so much and provided you with a fascinating career. A good way to do this is to volunteer on an industry association committee or volunteer for a cause that is near and dear to your heart. Contribute your skills and expertise. For example: volunteer your event planning skills for a charity gala. Volunteering will provide you with internal satisfaction as well as additional experience in the field.

Network, network, network

Attend as many events that you have the opportunity to go to. Although networking may seem a bit nerve-wracking at first, like most things, it gets easier the more you do it! Talk to as many people as you can and remember to follow up. Be sure to take people’s business cards and add them to your LinkedIn connections or send a quick email after the event. You never know when you will need each other’s services in the future.

Let it be known

Make it known that you are interested in advancing within your organization and/or industry. You never know who can help you. Put it out into the universe — the world has an interesting way of working out.

Keep an open mind

Career advancement can come in many different forms. Keep an open mind, and be willing to consider all of your options!

About the authors

Throughout her career, Carly Ekstein has worked in various marketing and event roles servicing corporate clients, not-for-profit organizations and professional associations in a variety of industries and sectors. Carly has produced, managed and executed hundreds of events that range in size, scope and budget. Extremely client focused, solutions oriented, and driven to exceed expectations, Carly is passionate about making meaningful connections for her clients. Carly thrives on working under pressure in fast-paced environments. Carly can be reached at 416.400.8094 or by email at [email protected]. For more information, visit:

Dory Kashin brings over five years’ experience in the event planning field to the Managing Matters events team. Her previous role planning conferences and events in-house at an association has allowed her to have a unique perspective when planning events for her association clients at Managing Matters. Dory can be reached at 416.944.3183 x321 or by email at [email protected].

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