#talkpay: 13 years of my professional life

#talkpay has taken twitter by storm. I wanted to go a little longer form because I want to get the whole story of how I got to where I am at out there, and documented for everyone to see. I will not disclose my current salary, because I haven’t been approved (I haven’t asked) but it is considered confidential at my company.

I graduated from ITT Technical in September 11th, 2002. I had an associates degree in Computer Networking Systems Technology. I had given up on networking and decided to pursue a paycheck (read: things were tight, needed a job). I landed my first post-school job at Overstock.com as Customer Service Phone rep. I was making $10/hour. I soon helped the company start their first email response team. Manually typing out emails with links to best selling products. I had known HTML since middle school (6th grade) and I had been friendly with computers from earlier in life. My training in HTML and small scripting allowed me to knock out hundreds of emails a day, where most team members were completing 20 to 50.

This gave me opportunity to move into the Affiliate Marketing department, with a small raise to $11/hour. I spent a few years working in this department. I started as part of a 2 or 3 person team. Our 3rd basically showed the 2 of us how to do things, and then went on to better things. While there I learned PHP, JavaScript, some JSP, some Java, SQL, MySQL administration, Apache configuration, some Linux, and how to talk tech. When I finally left the company I was earning $15/hour and had a small chunk of Restricted Stock Units (RSUs).

I left that company for a whirl wind of stops at other small tech companies, each time increasing my salary. First at GrabTakeOut.com (no gone), WebStats (they were purchased by Adobe/Omniture), Lantis Fireworks (mostly non tech related work), SOS Staffing Inc (now Elwood Staffing), Code Greene, and Progrexion Marketing.

Each time I moved from one company to the next I would go to the internet, and find the salary range that is expected for the titles I would be taking. I would determine if I met the requirements of the job, if I knew the technologies, how well I knew the technologies, and how much I would have to learn quickly, to earn what I was asking. Never did I take a job with a salary request that I wasn’t certain I was worth. I always asked for more than I felt I was worth, so that when the dust settled I would have what I thought I was worth. This is probably the most important part of all of this… I always got what I felt I was worth. My self worth was my target salary.

Once in my 13 years as a professional, I took a job offer, and was backed into a corner with my salary negotiation. It soured the entire experience at the company, and as a result I only stayed with the company a short time. Their expectation of my worth, was not held to my requirements. I walked. I got a MUCH better job, with a company that respects whole-heartedly their employees.

In 13 years I went from $20,800/yr in customer service to roughly 7x that, by simply continuing to learn, grow and expand my worth. Today I program in Python, to asist in Infrastructure Automation, with the title Senior Infrastructure Engineer. To get where I am today I never stopped learning. Today I am learning new things. Tomorrow I will learn more new things. I will never stop learning, becuase if I do, my worth will decline.

If you want to #talkpay that’s fine, I have things to go learn so I can continue to #earnpay