“I Felt Empowered to Get the Salary I Wanted …”

February 17, 2010

A student participant made this statement after a role-play exercise conducted during an AAUW/WAGE Project $tart $mart salary negotiation workshop that I attended two weeks ago at Harvard University.

This workshop, hosted by the Harvard College Women’s Center, is the third one the university has offered. Gina Helfrich, assistant director of the center, was behind its implementation. “We decided to bring $tart $mart to campus because it empowers students to become their own best advocates,” Gina said. “Every year, as they consider life after college, students discover that they need the information, tools, and skills to negotiate their salaries. We felt that $tart $mart provided all of those things along with a sharp and realistic look at the continuing gender wage gap and strategies that individuals can take to combat it.” Gina herself was trained as one of three new facilitators, ensuring that Harvard can continue to offer the workshop on a regular basis to more and more students.

Each three-hour $tart $mart salary negotiation workshop offers attendees information about the personal consequences of the wage gap, resources for benchmarking reasonable salaries, skills for negotiating appropriate salary and benefits, and the ability to recognize a personal bottom-line budget. More than 100 campuses nationwide have hosted $tart $mart salary negotiation workshops, and more than 300 facilitators across the country have been trained through the AAUW/WAGE $tart $mart partnership.

Anna Nelson, another new $tart $mart facilitator trained at Harvard, hopes that as a facilitator she can “incentivize the thinking” about financial matters and demonstrate to young women how important negotiating is to successfully start their careers. Anna, who began her own career in the financial services industry, sees a great need to ensure that college women are prepared for the workforce.

Throughout the evening workshop, students discussed situations they had faced themselves. For instance, a current undergraduate student who had been hired as an intern for a position that initially was intended for someone with graduate school credentials realized that she could have taken that opportunity to negotiate her salary, even though it was an internship.

During the workshop, facilitator Annie Houle asked participants what their “ah-ha!” moments were. Two participating students, Amily He and Kellie Doty, shared their responses, which I later posted on YouTube.

We look forward to these young women using their new skills to make a smart start in their careers and salaries. Did you, as many of these young women are now doing, negotiate the salary for your first job?

Find out about other scheduled $tart $mart salary negotiation workshops and facilitator trainings on the AAUW Member Showcase or on the WAGE Project website.

Kate Farrar By:   |   February 17, 2010

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