What am I worth?

This has been something on my mind lately. Admittedly, a lot. It’s about my monetary value when it comes to jobs. I am currently a visiting scholar, a board member on a state chapter of an international organization, a gifted parent education liaison for a local school district, and on the planning committee for three conferences. All of this I love, but none of it is paid. I know my work is important, but really, when it comes to jobs, what am I worth?

We all wonder that. Here in the United States it’s taboo and considered rude to discuss salary. I’m going to break this taboo today, so avert your eyes, my American friends! Or look and you may just learn something.

In 2002, my first salaried job was as assistant manager at a retail clothing store for teens. They decided I was worth $25,000 per year.

In 2004, at my second job, a for-profit university decided, as a financial aid counselor, I was worth $22,000, but agreed to match my salary at the time after 90 days.

In 2006, my third job, which I got just after graduating with my Bachelor’s, was as a financial aid assistant doing data entry and answering questions at a private university. They tagged me at $31,000.

When I left this university in 2012 after being there for six years, a promotion, and earning a Master’s degree, I made just over $40,000. I was a Financial Aid Coordinator.

In 2016, just before graduation with my PhD, I applied for a director position. I was called by the person doing the hiring. They suggested I apply for a coordinator position. The top salary they could offer me: $32,000 per year.

Now, today, in 2017, I am applying for jobs and have been for the past six months. I am being selective, only applying for jobs where I can get behind the role and the mission of the organization. I am getting turned down for jobs without an interview. Jobs I get offered are without pay, but “will be good experience” or “resume builders”. The worst (unsolicited) offer I received was to write courses for someone in exchange for resume tweaking and “LinkedIn optimization”.

I’m 34 years-old. I have been working full-time since I was 16. I have completed two internships, three degrees, and am wicked smart. I am creative, personable, and have a sharp talent for seeing problems in plans way ahead of time. Why is it so challenging to get an interview, or to get a job offer, or to get the salary I deserve?

But what is it I deserve? A recent chat with someone had placed my worth at significantly less than my husband’s, even though we have similar length of experience and I have two advanced degrees.

In all of these experiences, is there a bias because I’m a woman? You bet. I don’t imagine people would feel comfortable doing or saying these things to a man. But how do I get what I deserve?

Are you getting what you deserve? Maybe not. I heard employers will pay you one-fifth of what you’re worth to them. Do not sell yourself short. Trust me, they’re still getting a deal. Stand up for what you deserve.

For me, maybe I’ll give the job hunt a break, but something inside says maybe I’d miss that really awesome job I would love. For now, I’ll just keep working on what I love and when that paid offer arrives, I won’t accept anything less than what I deserve.


Today I had a panic attack

Dear Internet,

I kind of had a panic attack today. Ok, not kind of, I did. I’m blaming Lucy Bellwood. No, I’m kidding, she sounds incredibly awesome and she’s certainly an artist you should get to know. You see, I just finished watching her talk from XOXO.

Chris was super fortunate to get to go to XOXO this past fall. He enjoyed engaging and being real with so many other creators, and he encouraged me to watch the videos. So, I just finished watching Lucy Bellwood’s XOXO talk, which was my third XOXO talk for the day, when thoughts started racing around my head and I felt my body begin to get fuzzy. Maybe I watched too many, and because the best presenters make you think about the meaning of life itself, and the presenters were all incredibly cool people doing incredibly cool things, I started to panic.

I wasn’t panicking because they were really cool. I was connecting their coolness and things they’ve done with the uncoolness and unsuccessfulness I feel and the things I have to do. I am supposed to write a blog post for a really cool blog, which is basically a bunch of super cool women writing really insightful things. I have been avoiding it because then I have to be real with myself. Believe me. I was just scrubbing the bathroom from top to bottom. (AVOIDANCE.) Then I have two talks to give in March. I don’t know how. I do, but, how can I do that? It’s like, “I didn’t get picked last for the team and it’s confusing as to why and what if they find out I’m not really that good?”

This sounds silly to some of you. Others are saying, “Oh, get over yourself.” But some may be totally identifying with this. I am writing this for you.

Even though today my sickening optimism is MIA, and my confidence alludes me, I still hear that little voice. That’s the frustrating thing: I have this part of my brain that is always on, but gets kidnapped from time to time. It’s logical, organized, and it’s where my confidence lives. If I personified this part of my brain, she’d be dressed very neatly, pencil skirt, pressed button-down, pearls, and hair twirled neatly in a bun. She says, looking over her glasses, with no humor in her voice, “Get over it. Your self-loathing isn’t getting you anywhere. Just get busy.” Well, today she got kidnapped and shut in a closet. I still hear her, but she’s quiet and the self-doubt took over, and that’s what left me swirling in thought and searching for breath as I knelt, scrubbing the bathroom floor.

After a few minutes, I got up to text my other half. Texting takes longer than it should. Panic attacks are just draining. Spelling the words of the text were not happening. Autocorrect couldn’t even help. I had to wait a few more minutes so Chris wouldn’t think I was having a stroke. I couldn’t even recognize the names in my email inbox. Just thinking was complicated. Thank goodness panic attacks for me are few and far between.

Chris responds to my texts and assures me it’s just imposter syndrome creeping on me. I’m not so sure. Maybe by tomorrow the kidnapped part of my brain will pick the lock on her cage, and I’ll feel a little better. Tonight, I’m just going to push through.