Money Monday: Are You Paid Enough?

It’s that time of the year when I receive my compensation plan and my bonus gets paid out. I’m happy to report that I’m pleased with the numbers. Not only do I enjoy what I do, but I feel I’m paid a fair wage.

Exactly one year ago, I was no where close to pleased. Frankly, I was pissed. After I received my comp plan, I returned to my cubicle and acted like I’d just been pink-slipped. I grabbed the calendar and threw it in the trash. I tore down personal pictures and put them in my purse. I emptied my filing cabinet and put the folders in the recycling bin. I left the office dejected, as if I truly had been laid off.

Because I’m an intense and productive hard-worker, I expect to be compensated for the effort I put in. I thrive on compliments, appreciation, and cold hard cash. After a sleepless night, I knew that tears would do me no good nor could I very well implode in a fit of anger. I had to get even. I had to prove not only to my employer, but to myself that I was worth more. I had to prove that my reaction of shock and utter disappointment was justified.

Enter Job Hunting Catherine-Style

Search jobs internally using key word ‘MBA.’

Search jobs externally (LinkedIn, Simply Hired) using key word ‘MBA.’

Search jobs in alumni databases filtering by role (strategy, product management, investor relations) and location.

Send brief emails (no more than a handful of sentences) describing qualifications and attach resume.

Do not send cover letters. That is a serious waste of time. If you are qualified, your resume will prove your qualifications, not what you write in a personalized cover letter.

Given that I only applied to jobs I was qualified for, I got a good response rate from hiring managers. Two weeks after I had started my job search, I secured my first offer and was on my way to getting a second. Along the way, several recruiters and hiring managers asked that I contact them if ever I found myself looking to make a switch in the future.

Keep in mind, I didn’t want to leave my job, I only felt I wasn’t paid fairly. Once I secured that first offer, I asked that my employer match it.


It’s around this same time that I hear complaints from people about work and pay. Believe me, I’ve been there. If you don’t feel you’re paid enough, then test your marketability by gathering offer letters, and come to some conclusions about whether or not you’re worth what you think you’re worth. It’s important to be realistic, but more importantly you have to be confident and have faith in yourself.

What Do You Do?

Several months back I got into a discussion with some friends about our lack of awareness of each others’ occupations. “Do you even know what I do?” One asked.

I stammered, “You’re like an engineer or something like that right?  Or computers.  Don’t you do something with computers?”

Everyone laughed. “We don’t even know what you do.”

“It’s easy. I work for a bank.”

That’s all I’ll share publicly about my paid career since I have gotten in trouble previously for making specific references to my employer. I learned my lesson!

In addition to everyone not knowing what we do in the real world, most people don’t know what I do for Burning Man so I’ll explain. I volunteer for the ARTery which is the group that facilitates art getting onto the playa. We register artists, document each piece, place their work, and educate artists about lighting and our leave no trace policy. At the event, the ARTery has a wall-sized map showing where every single art piece is located. We print self-guided tours, conduct bus and bike tours, and throw artist parties. I’m the ARTery Volunteer Coordinator which means I am tasked with finding new volunteers, retaining volunteers, and making sure everyone feels appreciated.

I’ve been volunteering for at least 6 years. I can’t remember that far back! This year I worked the most ever. I did 7 shifts with each shift lasting about 5 hours, and then some. So you can imagine only one week in the desert with my work schedule goes by very quickly! We are an amazing, tight-knit group (I swear I’m not biased) and every hour I spend working is busy, but also enjoyable.

First picture here is me and rockstar newbie volunteers at the ARTery on-playa.  In the second picture, we’re at the Commissary enjoying ice-cream sandwiches for dessert at lunch.