Have you ever looked at a successful woman and thought, I want to be her or I’d kill for her job? While we can’t help you swap places or put you into your dream job, we did the next best thing: We went to seven of those successful women with super cool jobs to ask them how they think you can get to where they are right now. Here’s what they had to say.
1. Tiffany DeCruze, product manager for Priceline
When you score a good deal on Priceline’s booking platform, you’ve got DeCruze to thank for it. She works with designers and developers to improve the site’s user experience, “so that customers can find great travel deals, book, and go,” she says. But although DeCruze is Priceline’s product manager now, she snagged this dream job without any real product marketing experience. Instead, she levied her experience and interests—including a love of travel—to snag the job. “I encourage women … to find a product they [love] and proactively seek to develop the skills needed to take on that role,” DeCruze says.
2. Cathy Polinsky, chief technology officer at Stitch Fix
As Polinsky admits, “being part of a predominantly female company in the heart of Silicon Valley is such a rarity.” But that doesn’t mean there isn’t an opportunity for women to break into other, possibly male-dominated tech companies. No matter where you apply in Silicon Valley, she says, you just have to go for it. One way to do that is to share your career goals with your network. That way, when an opportunity comes up that matches your ambitions, you’ll already be on their radars. “They may start to think of you in a different light,” she encourages.
3. Melanie Casey, owner of Melanie Casey Jewelry
Dream of turning a passion project into a full-fledged business? That’s just what Casey did when she launched her online store. “This is the only job in the world that I would willingly work seven days a week, and never get sick of it,” she says. The key to her success — and the tip she has for your business launch—goes beyond hard work, though. “The biggest change in my business came when I started taking product photography very seriously,” she shares. “I can’t say it enough: product photos are everything! If you take care with your imagery, people will discover your brand. From there, you can figure things out as you go.”
4. Yonna Ingolf, narrative designer of Candy Crush
It’s not all fun and games in the gaming industry — but that doesn’t mean it isn’t a lot of fun. “I get to work with words, which is awesome because words are my favorite things,” says Ingolf. If you’d like to write for games, too, she says you should develop a real love of words. “Read a lot, write a lot, play a lot of games, and make some great connections within the industry,” she says. “It helps to have a degree, but you really don’t have to as long as you’re good at what you do, and determined to do it.”
5. Cristina Mariani-May, co-CEO of Banfi Vintners
Of her job, Mariani-May says, “I work in the wine business — need I say more? Seriously, though, there’s a reason no one leaves this industry. It’s about the people, the relationships, the travel. I have the pleasure of working with a product that makes connections and brings happiness.” If you want to break into this industry — and climb to the top of a wine empire — Mariani-May says you should actually start at the bottom. “Get your foot in the door by working at a retailer,” she advises. “You need to get in front of the consumer, learn people skills, and understand people’s needs and how to help them. It’s a people industry, so get out there and network, attend tastings and other events, make friends, build relationships.”
6. Jenny Dorsey, culinary strategist
Being a culinary strategist is an “active exercise in creativity,” Dorsey describes. She may consult with clients one minute, then run a dinner tasting pop-up the next. It took a big career change — and graduating from a culinary school — to get where she is, but Dorsey says it was her ability to embrace fear that others can copy to break into this unusual industry. “[When] you aren’t afraid to fail, that’s when your life is going to open up,” she says. “Ignore what your friends say or what your parents think. Dream big and try different things.”
7. Ilana Levine, host of the podcast “Little Known Facts with Ilana Levine”
Whether you’re a born reporter or you simply have the gift of gab, launching a podcast could be for you. “I love connecting deeply with people and being inspired by others,” says Levine. Before you launch, Levine recommends you practice long before you have an audience. “There are books you can read about acting or podcasting, but nothing replaces the experience of actually doing it and realizing that at first, it won’t be perfect,” she says, referencing Malcolm Gladwell’s 10,000-hour rule, which asserts it takes luck and a lot of practice to get good at something. “No one can predict when or how the luck will happen, but you can start working on those 10,000 hours right now,” says Levine.