Even before her first sip, Katie Delaney, 28, was interested in wine: The Orange County, California, native researched wine fermentation for a high school project. “I thought the science was fascinating,” she says. After studying agriculture and marketing in college, she worked in Napa vineyards, then as a sommelier. But she struggled to find a position that combined her creative interests and business savvy. “I felt my perfect job didn’t exist,” she says. So Delaney networked like crazy and started a wine blog—which caught the eye of ClubW.com, a Los Angeles–based wine-subscription service. Now she’s the company’s wine director, working with vineyards to source grapes, overseeing production of Club W’s own offerings and writing about wine—a position tailor-made for her skills. “I ended up in a job that’s fun, challenging and better than I could have imagined,” she says. Here, her tips for paving your own career path.
GET YOUR HANDS DIRTY “The best way to learn is by doing—you don’t hop right to the top of the ladder. In the cellars I had to drag hoses and pumps around. You have to show you have muscle and drive, no matter what the job is.”
FOCUS ON THE LONG GAME “There’s always a benefit to networking, even if it’s not immediate. Remember people’s names and be informed enough that they remember yours.”
DON’T BE SHY “Try to suck as much knowledge out of your bosses as you can. Some people might be afraid to ask questions, but it’s better to be proactive than nervous and quiet.”
NETWORKING MUST “I always give people my card. You never know what can happen.”
INFLUENTIAL READ “You have to keep learning. This book [right] has given me a new perspective on my business.”
GO-TO ROSÉ “It’s perfect for a nice day at the beach.”
DAILY EXERCISE “I love Pure Barre—and if you look good, it’s usually a better workout!”
WEEKEND ESCAPE “For me, walking into a vineyard is instant decompression.”
BEAUTY STAPLE “A little eyeshadow makes me feel dressed up for work.”
Styling, Laura Hollabaugh; hair and makeup, Jeffrey Baum at Atelier Management.
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Mathew Scott. Courtesy of University of California Press