AIU Blog

The AIU blog shares ideas, information and tips aimed at helping you get ahead personally and professionally, with topics ranging from online learning success to career development.

5 Ways to Be Proactive and Climb the Career Ladder

Image: climb career ladder

You've set your sights set on getting ahead. You've got some experience, but you really view your current job as a jumping-off point. Yet you wonder - do I have what it takes? How can I put a plan into action to get where I want to be?

AIU University Dean for the School of Business Dr. Judy Bullock has been in your shoes. Then she threw away those guess-I'm-fine-where-I'm-at shoes, strapped on sturdy boots, and worked her way up the ladder. She started out as an administrative assistant, and through hard work, education and dedication, she moved up to become a corporate vice president at large organization. Today, she's a leader at AIU.

What did she do to work her way up? What can you do to follow in her footsteps? She was proactive, and you can be too. Here's her advice on how to get started.

  1. First and foremost, get your degree. Now. Right now. When she was an administrative assistant, she realized, "The only difference between me and the people I worked for was they had a degree and I did not," Dr. Bullock says. "I decided ... I can choose to be the person driving my career rather than letting someone else drive my life." It took her six years to get her bachelor's degree as she continued to work full-time, but it was worth it!
  2. Join professional organizations. In addition to other benefits, professional organizations offer networking and volunteer events. "They give students the opportunity to demonstrate leadership, service and support to the community. It speaks volumes," Dr. Bullock says. "I joined. I could barely afford it at the time, but it paid off. It supported my job quest." Attending volunteer opportunities also "shows you're willing to work without the expectation of a return." Those who join as students may also get an added benefit, as some student memberships may be rolled over to professional memberships.
  3. Start pursuing career development opportunities. "Don't be afraid to ask for things," says Dr. Bullock. "Determine what you need to grow and develop your career and ask for it. Companies invest in their employees, but employees have to drive it. You have to raise your hand." But first, plan. "It is absolutely fundamental to have a plan for where you want to be in two to three years, five years." Once you figure out your plan, you'll be better equipped to know what types of career development you should be pursuing.
  4. Find a sounding board. "Ask for help. Seek out mentors. Don't hesitate to ask someone to be your coach/mentor/sounding board," she says. "People won't offer that, it's not human nature. ... Work with folks who ask how you're doing and who have a genuine interest in you. ... You can [excel] by yourself, but it's much faster when someone helps."
  5. Speaking of mentors, if you're pursuing your degree or have already graduated, get in touch with Career Services. "Never underestimate starting and creating a dialogue early with Career Services. They can help you build your brand, your resume, gain experience and exposure. They have plenty of resources."

So get started today! Your future is in YOUR hands. It's up to you to decide when you want to strap on your boots and start climbing.

Learn more about getting your career moving in the right direction. Download our guide, "How to Go From the Job You Have to the Career You Want."