I Asked for a Raise at 19 with 3 Months of Experience and I Got It.

Over winter break in January 2019, I knew I needed a job. I had a position on campus already, but it was paid through a stipend that wasn’t nearly enough to last throughout the year, especially going to a private school next to NYC. I was scrolling through the Student Jobs section on the portal when the “University Relations Assistant” position breezed past my eyes. As a Public Relations major, what more could I ask for? I could sit at a desk, answer phones, write up some articles, and help out around the office.

 

This wasn’t my first on-campus job, so I knew the pay didn’t match the New York State minimum wage, but that wasn’t too big of a deal to me. I was just excited to be around “real PR people” doing “real world things.” I was eager to learn.

 

Spring 2019 in the UR office was a dream (like, actually). I got to write press releases, assist on university social media, be on live TV, get articles published to the news site, attend events as “press,” photograph graduation, even be in my school’s first TikTok video (yeah, you read that right).


As the semester was coming to a close, I looked across my desk at my slightly older, male-identifying coworker who had done all of this alongside me. We were hired by different people in the office, but we had a very similar job and were working together on many projects. I asked him how much he was making.

 

This article isn’t a feminist rant or a bash at the patriarchy (although, that’s always warranted). Finding out that my male coworker was making slightly more than I was turned out to be more of a kick in the ass, a way for me to get on my feet and do something about it. Whatever he was earning, I should have been earning the same thing. A couple weeks later, I gathered my thoughts, wrote some notes down, and pulled together my work on my laptop. I was prepared to hear, “no.” I was prepared for my boss to say that just because I was doing work outside my job description didn’t make me eligible for higher pay, it just made me an over-achiever.

 

I thought I was going to vomit. I don’t get stage fright or jitters, but that day, walking into the office, I thought I was going to pass out right on the floor. It took three hours into my shift for me to even look my boss in the eye.

 

Asking for a raise was not easy. I knew it was a long shot. I wasn’t even 20 years old, I had only been working there for three months, and I didn’t have any “ins.”

 

I also knew that I was hired because I deserved the job. I was the best candidate, the most qualified, and that’s why I was there. I worked my butt off every time I stepped foot in the office, and everyone knew it. I was called on to do extra work and assist on items outside my job description because what I brought to the table was valuable. I could’ve been replaced, fired even, but I knew that no one could bring to the job what I could because I am me, and no one else can be that.

 

 
 
 
 

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

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As you know, I got the raise. My first reaction?

 

Guilt.

 

“Why did I ask in the first place? They’re going to think I’m ungrateful. Will they all look at me differently?”

 

This is the mentality women are taught to adopt in the workplace. It’s much harder for women, in general, to know their worth as a man can. And, ultimately, if I didn’t deserve the raise,

 

they would have said “no.”

 

I earned the raise because, just that: I earned it. I knew my own worth and value and seized the opportunity to use it.

 

I love my job. I can’t wait for the semester to start so I can work there again. The office is full of talented, inspiring, dedicated people who have taught me more lessons than a school course ever could. I am grateful for the job I have, and I love what I do.

 

Asking to be compensated appropriately does not make me ungrateful.

 

I still have to say that to myself every morning, but I’m proud to say I know my worth.

*Courtesy of giphy.com