Miel’s Negotiatied Salary History

by James & Miel on September 25, 2008 · 0 comments


To follow up on yesterday’s post about my recent salary negotiations, we had a commenter request that I share a bit about my career and salary history and how I got into the development world.

We’ll take it from the top. My first tax paying job was picking raspberries by the quart. We were allowed to eat the berries, but of course didn’t paid for those we ate. I didn’t last long. Babysitting was more lucrative at $15 a day.

I moved on to a summer job building playgrounds, at minimum wage, before going to Finland as an exchange student at 16. I saved all of my money for a tour around Europe.

Between high school and college I worked at Crater Lake National Park. I highly recommend working at a national park for those who are interested in the outdoors and want to make money over the summer. I started as a dishwasher and moved on to prep cook. While I was earning only just above minimum wage, we were allowed to work as much as we wanted. I averaged 65 hours and had several pay periods over 80 hours a week, thereby earning overtime according to federal parks rules. The key was that it cost something like $6 for room and board and there was nowhere to spend money! According to my social security paperwork I earned more at 18 than I did until age 22.

In college I worked two jobs throughout. These jobs included managing a small office that led outdoor trips (yes, the trips were a major perk!), taking pictures of kids, nannying, being a resident assistant, and working at the overseas office. After having trained two bosses at the outdoor outfit I was working for, I decided to move over and make contacts for the long term at the overseas office. This was a good move. Being an resident assistant (dorm mom) my senior year was a great financial move as well, since they paid for room and more that normally came out of my pocket.

Post college I took my first summer off of work and traveled, since I’d saved so much working and had been used to putting this towards tuition. In the fall I went to Ghana, West Africa as a Peace Corps Volunteer. Here I got $85 a month living allowance and housing provided by my village. At the end of service I got somewhere around $6k for completion of service and cash in lieu for my return plane ticket. When I landed back in Portland I realized that while I had been living in a hut, I had as much in cash as my friends had in credit card debt, living in cubes.

Post Peace Corps I leveraged my previous contacts at the Lewis & Clark overseas office and went on to co-lead a semester abroad in Australia. This was the same program I had gone on as a student. When I had returned from my initial trip I went to the director and asked him what I had to do to become a co-leader on a program. He advised that I graduate, do something like Peace Corps, and come back to him. I followed suit and got the job. I had a fully paid five months in Australia, including per diem, and an additional $5k.

After traveling to Europe and temping a bit I then worked at a fire camp near where I grew up. I worked sixteen hours a day, fourteen days on, two days off, for the next 3 months. This was certainly a test of endurance, but gave me a nice chunk of change to settle down a bit.

I then moved to Portland, Oregon and tried to find a job in one of the worse economies around. My friends were making between $22k and $27k annually after several years in the work force. I said that I wanted to find something for $30k and they all told me that I was dreaming. I landed something working for a health advocacy non-profit making $33k initially and negotiated for a six month review and went up to $35k.

I then moved to DC and have been with the same employer up until now. I was first hired as an internal temp for someone going on maternity leave with twins. There wasn’t much room for negotiation, but I went up to $38k and negotiated for a salary review after four months where I went up to $41k. I only had a 1% raise at the end of the year since my increase was mostly through the year.

In March, a year after being hired, I had a grade level promotion and got a 10% raise to around $45k. At the end of that year I was contemplating moving departments. When I got an offer my office begged me to stay and agreed to the maximum end of year increase of another 8%, bringing me to around $49k. My technical promotion wasn’t for another six months, which brought me up another 10% to $54k. At the end of the year I had another annual increase of 5% and went up to $57k.

When I took my position here in Afghanistan I got another 10% on my base to $63k, plus another 1% at the end of the year to $65k.

Then for my new position I managed to get an increase of 8% to just over $70k as a base. Both of my assignments have a considerable amount of allowances, bringing my current salary to $149k.

In terms of really getting into the develop world, it was studying international affairs, getting out in the world, being a star performer, making it known that I wanted field experience, and going after it. If you are interested in development and want further details I’m happy to share.

For salary negotiations, my main tip would be this: ASK!

Cheers,

Miel

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