By the age of 15, de Paula was visiting modeling agencies. She signed with the Marilyn Agency, the first agency she visited. Her first season was in New York City in 2005, and yielded runway work for the likes of Ralph Lauren, Bill Blass and Zac Posen.
By the age of 20, de Paula had landed two makeup campaigns: MAC Barbie Collection and Prescriptives. She walked in the Victoria's Secret Fashion Show in 2008, 2010, and 2011. According to Forbes, de Paula ranked the eleventh highest paid supermodel for 2009, earning $2.5 million. She has walked runway for São Paulo Fashion Week, home to the largest fashion shows in Brazil.
She has been praised by Naomi Campbell and Anna Wintour of Vogue.
She was in the Next autumn/winter 2010 campaign and in its TV advertisement that launched on 10 September, alongside Jon Kortajarena.
As of 2014, de Paula is represented by The Society Management.