I'm 33, Make $135k & Finally Paid Off My Student Loans

ILLUSTRATION BY VERO ROMERO
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.
Today, we chat with a senior marketing manager in fashion from San Francisco, CA. Previously, we spoke to a client success manager from Shawnee, KS, and a senior partnership manager in Tinton Falls, NJ.
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Job: Senior Marketing Manager, Fashion & Retail
Age: 33
Location: San Fransisco, CA
Degree: Bachelor's Degree, Art History
First Salary: $40,000
Current Salary: $135,000
As a kid, what did you want to be when you grew up?
"As a kid, I always knew I wanted to work in the creative field. As a young adult I thought I wanted to work in museums or as a fashion stylist. But I changed my mind when after several fashion internships never materialized into 'real jobs' and I got a lucky break — I landed an PR assistant role at a cable television network."
What did you study in college?
"I have a bachelor’s degree in art history and a minor in communications from UC San Diego."
Did you have to take out student loans?
"Yes — I took out $24,000 for four years of undergrad plus four months of study abroad. I finally finished paying off my loans last month!"
Have you been working at this job since you graduated from college?
"No, I have over 15 years of work experience include curatorial internships at museums and galleries, assistant roles in entertainment PR, manager roles in fashion PR, and marketing for fashion retail and lifestyle companies."
How would you explain your day-to-day role at your job?
"I oversee marketing strategy for key premium accounts in the U.S. I manage a small team and our job is to support sell-through at these key accounts — from providing foundational marketing support to building energy moments with brand programs and partnerships with these accounts."
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Did you negotiate your salary?
"I didn’t negotiate my salary because it was a $40,000 bump from my previous job plus the package includes a 20% bonus, so it felt like a fair offer. But I did negotiate a $10,000 signing bonus to cover my moving expenses since I had to relocate for the job."
Is your current job your “passion”? If not, what is?
"No. I would say my previous role was something I was a lot more passionate about, but joining this company and taking on this role gave me a promotion in title, pushed me well over the six-figure mark and is giving me room to grow.
"Although I loved the scope of work from my last job, the team, and the perks, I think my current role will take me to something better next."
If you could, would you change anything in your career trajectory?
"I’m grateful for every opportunity and consider myself very lucky to have worked for some really amazing companies.
"And though I’m proud of the career I’ve built and the network I have, and I am confident of the skills and point of view I bring to the industry, I do worry that I’ve pigeon-holed myself to a very specific brand marketing role; I wish I had more digital experience in my background."
What professional advice would you give your younger self?
"I would tell my younger self to not be so hard on myself. I had a minor setback and got laid off from a job early on in my career, and it really crushed my confidence. It took me a year to come back from that experience, and I ended up rushing into a job where I was undervalued and overworked because I felt like I had limited options.
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"I'd also tell myself to save! I was a terrible saver when I first started working and didn’t start a 401(k) until I was 25. I missed out on five years of savings because I thought I had tons of time to do that when I was an 'adult' — so foolish!"
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Are you a woman under 35 with a six-figure salary ($100,000+) and want to tell your story? Submit it here.
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