The Hard Questions

Throughout your career, you’ll have to answer tough questions and have challenging conversations surrounding salary and growth opportunities.  For many, this can feel like a daunting and uncomfortable task. Lydia Ocampo, Outreach Specialist at Talent Market, covered some of these difficult questions and how to think about them during the 2023 NeW Professional Development Week session, The Hard Questions. 

How do I figure out what I want to do?  

Most students enter college undeclared or are unsure what they want to study.  Aside from taking a variety of classes or joining an array of clubs and organizations, you can also ask yourself what skills you want to utilize and what talent needs align with those skills. For example, if you want to utilize your creative skills, you’ll want to focus on jobs and careers that best utilize these skills. Lydia recommends taking a look at job boards and see what kinds of jobs you’re interested in and what skills they require. You can set yourself up for success by taking classes or studying those specific skills, such as a programming language or taking an internship to gain some hands-on experience. Don’t’ be afraid to step out of your comfort zone- you never know what you’ll discover!  

How do I position myself to get promoted?  

According to Lydia, the best place to grow is where you are. Ideally, you want to stay in a position for at least three years– since your first year will be spent learning the job, the second year will be spent mastering it, and the third year is the time for you to go above and beyond. You’ll want to fulfill all your current expectations exceptionally, which means independently, completely, and correctly. Once you’re ready to take that next step, you should ask your supervisor where you can expand your responsibilities to show initiative.  Taking professional classes to grow your skills is another great opportunity to make you a more valuable asset to your team to earn your promotion.  

How do I leverage my skills for a new role? 

If you are looking to change jobs, especially career paths, remember to think about how your experience is applicable in a different path and to be self-aware about what you like and what you’re good at (recognizing these things may or may not be the same). Aim for an opportunity that allows you to acquire experience that will help get you where you want to go- you will have to earn the responsibilities you want.  

How do I determine my salary range?  

This is one of the trickiest questions to answer, and it depends on a variety of factors according to Lydia. Taking advantage of websites like Glassdoor, GuideStar, or researching the 990s of non-profits, can help you figure out your market value and how much you should be earning. There are many factors that go into your market value including your professional background, experience level, education, and qualifications- ultimately there’s no right or wrong answer.  

How do I negotiate a raise?  

Before negotiating a raise, you’ll want to ask yourself a few questions- including how long you have been there, what value you have created, and are you meeting basic expectations or exceeding them. Be aware of your organization’s policies on raises and present your case with humility and empirical evidence. If your organization doesn’t have it in their budget to give you a raise, you can also negotiate other aspects such as moving to a hybrid work environment or additional flexibility.  

Talent Market is also a great resource for any questions you have about working in the liberty movement or about your career in general. With these tips from Lydia, hopefully you can feel more confident the next time you have to have a tough conversation at work. 

Julia Canzano is the NeW Campus Program and Events Coordinator.



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