Salary Story: I Dropped Out Of Uni 5 Years Ago & Now Make 53k

Illustrated by Cindy Echevarria.
In our series Salary Stories, women with long-term 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.
Been in the workforce for at least five years and interested in contributing your salary story? Submit your information here. Published stories receive £100.
Age: 25
Location: Reading
Current industry and job title: Project manager in tech
Current salary: £53,000
Number of years employed since school or university: Five
Starting salary: £16,000 in 2017
Biggest salary jump: £40,000 to £53,000 in 2022
Biggest salary drop: £24,000 to £15,000 in 2017
Biggest negotiation regret: Not looking externally at the end of my apprenticeship. I was offered a higher salary and grade verbally than I eventually got in writing and at the time I didn't bother to explore other companies (either for jobs or graduate schemes) to see if I could get a better salary or pivot my career progression at all.
Best salary advice: If a company asks for your current wage, lie. If a company knows you're being paid below market value, they'll try to do the same.