In our series My 6-Figure Paycheck, women making more than $100,000 open up about how they got there and what exactly they do. We take a closer look at what it feels like to be a woman making six-figures — when only 5% of American women make that much, according to the U.S. Census — with the hope it will give women insight into how to better navigate their own career and salary trajectories.
Job: Senior Data Analyst
Location: New York, NY
Degree: Bachelor of Science, Mathematics
First Salary: $65,000
Current Salary: $125,000
As a kid, what did you want to be when you grew up?
"What didn't I want to be growing up? I first wanted to be a pianist, then an astronaut. At some point, I wanted to be a lawyer and psychiatrist by the time I was 13 years old. To be honest, this is still a question I ask myself even as an adult."
What did you study in college?
"I have a B.S. in mathematics. Eighteen is a young age to determine what you want to study for the next four years. I was good at math growing up, but I wasn't particularly passionate about it in school."
Did you have to take out student loans?
"Yes, I had $18,000 in loans. I received half in scholarships and financial aid. My parents paid for most of it. I was lucky enough to only have $18,000 in student loans. I was able to pay them off in three years."
Have you been working at this company since you graduated from college?
"No, I moved around a lot. I have always been in a technical role, but changed the industry quite a bit. I was at software companies and did consulting for a bit. I am now working at a tech startup."
How would you explain your day-to-day role at your job?
"I analyze data on a day-to-day basis, which means building dashboards or writing code to summarize various datasets. I usually partner up with teams across the company to solve different problems. That sometimes means defining metrics, creating visualizations to see changes over time, or making sense of the large datasets that we have."
Did you negotiate your salary?
"Yes! Always negotiate. Always do your due diligence and market research for roles you are currently in and want to be in. I didn't negotiate my salary for my previous jobs, and I still regret it. I received a few offers during my recent job search, so I was able to leverage that for my current role.
"Be firm but understanding when you negotiate. Have some supporting evidence as to why you should receive a higher compensation (such as certifications or niche specialty), but be open to other types of compensation as well. My current company couldn't give me more in signing bonus but gave me more in equity."
Is your current job your “passion”? If not, what is?
"This is something I have been struggling with. I am good at what I do, but it doesn't make me excited. I have this creative side, which comes in handy when thinking through challenging problems, but there is only so much creativity that I can use when in data analysis. I have given up on the notion that you should find passion in your job. I think that's where a lot of millennials become discontent in their jobs.
"Many people in my generation probably grew up hearing that they can be whatever they want to be. You go to college thinking that you'll solve the world hunger, but the reality is that most careers pay the bills and keep the lights on. I have come to terms with that. I love doing design and artwork, but I am not sure if I want to make a career out of it. It's more of a side passion."
If you could, would you change anything in your career trajectory?
"This is pretty cheesy, but I think everything happens for a reason. I am pretty content with where I am now. At the same time, I know this is not what I want to be doing for the rest of my life. I am not sure what that looks like, but I am comfortable with the unknown — for now."
What professional advice would you give your younger self?
"Slow down and enjoy the moment. It's not worth stressing about how to become a partner in ten years or make money as quickly as possible. Set an attainable goal (something you can achieve in six months or a year) and work towards that."
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