work your way up

work (one's) way up

To start at humble or modest beginnings, but rising in position, importance, or influence through hard work and determination. Just look at Johnson if you need proof: He started in the mail room, but worked his way up to one of the top lawyers at the firm. She worked her way up from a small one-woman online business to a media empire that employs thousands around the globe.
See also: up, way, work

ˌwork your way ˈup

start with a badly paid, unimportant job and work hard until you get a well-paid, important job: He’s worked his way up from an office junior to managing director.
See also: up, way, work