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: Product Manager, Tech
Location: Dallas, TX
Degree: Bachelor's in economics and history, MBA
First Salary: $50,000
Current Salary: $117,000 base + 15% bonus
As a kid, what did you want to be when you grew up?
"When I was a kid, I wanted to travel the world. When we would fly as a family, I always thought flight attendants were so glamorous, and so I wanted to be one of them!"
What did you study in college?
"I didn't really know what I wanted to do when I was in college, and I got a bachelor's degree in economics and history. After working for a few years, I realized I still didn't know what I wanted to do, so I went back to school and got my MBA."
Did you have to take out student loans?
"I am very fortunate that I do not have any student loans. I had a partial scholarship for undergrad, and my parents helped me with the rest. For grad school, I was fortunate enough to get a full scholarship, which has saved me several hundred thousand dollars!"
Have you been working at this company since you graduated from college?
"No, I have had several jobs since I graduated from college. I used to have more technical roles that were more analyst level. I have moved into strategy-type roles as I have progressed, but I do miss being more hands-on."
How would you explain your day-to-day role at your job?
"My current company has a lot of clients that all have a lot of requirements. We can't address them all immediately, so my job is to understand what our clients want, and then prioritize it for our tech teams to be able to work on. I also have to explain to the business side what we are doing and why we are working on one thing over the other."
Did you negotiate your salary?
"For my first couple jobs, I did not negotiate my salary. I had no idea what I should have been earning, and I was thankful enough to have a job that allowed me to live in NYC! For my first job after grad school, I used our career counselor's help to negotiate my salary to what I thought was more acceptable to me. Since then I have moved within my company but have not negotiated my salary."
Is your current job your “passion”? If not, what is?
"I'm not sure. I have always wondered if I would find my 'passion.' I have never really felt passionate about any job I have had. I do envy my friends who are pursuing what they have always wanted to do, and I wish I was that sure of something as well. I do wish I had a passion, and I thought that I would have found it by now, but that seems to have eluded me thus far."
If you could, would you change anything in your career trajectory?
"I think my career has been financially rewarding enough for me to live the lifestyle I want, despite the fact that I am still searching for my passion. So I probably wouldn't change my career trajectory much. I've been able to do a few different types of roles and grow my skill set in a good way, which has helped me get to where I am, and I hope to continue working on that going forward."
What professional advice would you give your younger self?
"I would tell myself to be more open-minded in college and explore other paths, rather than the business/economics path that was the easy option. I might have found something so cool that I fell in love with...or maybe not, but at least I would know what is out there. I would also tell my younger self that it is okay to have an opinion and voice it, and that just because someone is older or higher up the ranks than you, it does not mean they are always right or always have the answers."
Are you a woman under 35 with a six-figure salary ($100,000+) and want to tell your story? Submit it here.