How I Went From Making $55,000 To $85,000

Illustrated by Abbie Winters.
In our new series My Salary Story, women with at least 10 years of career experience open up about the most intimate details of their jobs: compensation. It’s an honest look at how real people navigate the complicated world of negotiating, raises, promotions, and job loss, with the hope it will give young women more insight into how to advocate for themselves — and maybe take a few risks along the way.

Today, a corporate lawyer in Detroit, who struggles to balance her passions with her family life.
Starting salary: $23,000
Current salary: $55,000
Years of employment: 16
Biggest salary jump: $34,000
Biggest salary drop: $32,500
Biggest salary regret: That I didn't recognize my own worth much earlier. Not only did I accept salaries beneath what should have been expected, but I allowed myself to remain in a couple of employment situations where my skills, expertise, and growth potential were restricted or unrecognized. Now, I realize that money is only a small part of being valued and respected at work.
Best salary-related advice: I wish I had realized how much of an impact having children would have on my earning potential. I found that if I wanted to have time for family, I had to "pay" for it by accepting a lower-paying but flexible work arrangement. I don't regret this choice at all, but I would have prepared better both financially and mentally if I had understood what it really meant to be a working mom.
Interested in contributing your salary story? Email salarystory@refinery29.com.