My First ‘Real’ Promotion; I Feel Like A Million Bucks!

As careers go, I’ve started mine out on a very traditional route: entry-level analyst at a mid-sized company, moving up a clearly defined hierarchical ladder, promotion by promotion. I’ve always been someone who works extremely well inside the box. If anything, this blog is the first time I’ve ever creatively dipped my toe outside what I thought to be “normal work”. But in this day and age, what’s truly normal, anyway? Everyone’s got a side hustle or passion project. Personal finance blogging is mine. Blogging aside, I’ve got awesome news to share!

I’ve been promoted!

It’s been roughly four years since I finished school. In that time, I had only one real career goal: make six figures by 30 💁🏻. Okay okay, I upgraded that to 28, because I’m a queen and need to have more self-confidence. Point is, I didn’t think much about what I wanted to do. Why? Fresh out of college, all I wanted to do was work. There was no strong preference as to what I would do for a living, so long as it paid well. For those of you who don’t know, I work in analytics, which is just another way of saying I help non-data people better understand numbers. As fields go, it’s a good one that has lots of job opportunities and decent pay.

So, how did I end up here?

Storytime! I graduated with my Master’s in the summer of 2014 and started working at a digital market research firm just outside D.C. It was a great first job out of college; I learned a lot about myself and what aspects of working brought me satisfaction. The less-than-ideal thing about my first company was that while I was there, there was a lot of upper-level turnover/changes. For an entry-level analyst, that didn’t really affect me, except for one big thing: right when I was expecting to get promoted to a senior analyst position, management enacted a hiring/promotion freeze due to budget issues. What should’ve lasted a month or two ended up lasting six months, which was extremely frustrating. In hindsight, it sounds petty and small, but in the first few years of working, that first big pay bump matters a lot.

When you’re fresh out of school, an extra $5K (or more) is a huge difference, and I was pissed that my company was holding that back from me (despite being told for months that the increase and title bump were already approved).

It was during this budget freeze that I started interviewing for new roles. Ian had just moved up to NYC for his own career change, so I cast a wide net – D.C., New York, and anywhere in between. I ended up with three job offers in three different cities, which is a good situation to be in. As an analyst making $64K, here were my offers:

  • $72K. Senior analyst role in D.C. (Financial Services)
  • $75K. Manager role in New York (Digital Media)
  • $85K. Manager role in Maryland (Advertising/Marketing)

I was really close to taking the Maryland job because the pay was significantly higher. But, let’s be real, Ian was in New York, and working in media seemed the most interesting. A smug fun fact that I like to reminisce over: after being delayed for half a year, my promotion finally went through—the day of my final interview for one of the above positions. 😏

I took a lower offer to take a job I thought would be more interesting

Let me tell you, my parents were soooo salty that I walked away from $85K. For months, my dad complained that I only moved to New York to be with Ian. (Not entirely true, but of course him being there affected my decision; how could it not?) Thankfully, this stopped when I got my first big raise.

Working in media in New York City is not nearly as glamorous as I imagined it would be. Don’t get me wrong, many aspects of it are amazing, like access to events and working alongside journalists I admire. But this industry changes at lightning speed.

Some of the changes were more than I thought I could put up with. Nine months into the job, my boss was laid off. 😱 That was quite the sobering moment. I wasn’t sure if my entire team was going to get the axe, so I started interviewing. After a couple months, I ended up getting an offer for a job that was willing to pay me $90K! It was an amazing opportunity but had one huge downside – my already long commute would have to double. I ended up staying at my existing job but wrote about this specific period of my life in another post. So there I was, slogging through the rest of 2017. The work was tough, but the pay was good (I had gotten a big raise since my role changed significantly), and my new boss was giving me a ton of room to grow and develop.

The second half of 2017 was exhausting. Work stress definitely leaked into other aspects of my life. I worked extra hours, blogged less (helloooo, blogger burnout!) and had a few posts that, looking back, really highlights how much I was in the dumps. (Don’t let the optimism of those posts fool you – I was trying to motivate myself.)

2017 was a “work in progress” year; 2018 reaps the benefits

All those extra hours must have paid off, because my new boss promoted me this month! It feels weird to think of myself as a “Senior Manager” now. This promotion is definitely more real to me than the one I got from “Analyst” to “Senior Analyst”, because of the shitty circumstances my first company put me in. It’s also more real than my title change to “Manager”, because I had to jump employers to make that happen. This promotion is more real to me because of the work I put in to be a better employee (I started thinking more about my team and the people I manage).

But really, what does it mean to be “Senior”, anyway? The pay bump is nice (six figures, woo!), mostly because it’s one step closer to saving up for FIRE. I don’t have to worry about my finances on a day-to-day basis. In fact, in the first few weeks of the year, I’ve been balling out (time to pull back a bit on that). So now, more than ever, I want to stay on track towards my 2018 goals and do more things for me.

New Year, New Me

What a silly phrase. Yet, how true it is for me! As a reminder for all you analysts out there, be proactive about your job growth. Don’t be afraid to take a job that pays less if you can see growth opportunities, and never be afraid to talk about money. Interview often, ask questions, and be open with coworkers. You’ll be surprised at how putting in a little extra hustle at the beginning of your career will pay off in the years to come. 😄

Comments

  1. Congratulations on the new position! By the sound of it, it is well deserved.

    And no need to tell you what to do with that nice pay raise, you’ve got it all covered. All I will say is good luck and keep on crushing your goals.

    I am really happy for you!

    1. Author

      Thanks! You’re so right, I had that pay bump allocated well before that first increased paycheck arrived 🙂

  2. You’re going to be FI in no time! Congratulations, Jane! Would love to see the specific steps a more junior person could do to achieve similar results. Or did they just give you the promotion ( that’s how it’s always worked for me)?

    We have analysts where I’m at, too, but I don’t think they make as much as you!

    1. Author

      This promotion was given to me; I definitely wasn’t expecting it after getting a pay bump last Spring. That said, I do think there are ways for junior analysts to move up quickly if they’re motivated. I’ve written about it a little bit, but I think there’s always more to say! Guess there’s another post incoming 😀

  3. Congratulations on your promotion Jane! And NYC is awesome, but living and working there can be a grind. I did two years in my 20’s living on the upper west and working in midtown. I got married to my boyfriend and we decided to move to the “slower” paced DC area (which it really was!). Anyway, sounds like you’re on a great path to a solid career and earning regardless where life takes you next. Good luck!

    1. Author

      Thanks, Kat!
      I can’t imagine working in midtown – that sounds exhausting. I’m a little farther south, in Flatiron, and by comparison, it’s positively quiet, haha. Working can totally be a grind, but thankfully my living costs are lower here than they were when I was in DC 😅

  4. Go girl!!

    Since leaving journalism I have been astounded by some of the salaries in the market, and I definitely want a piece of the pie. Coming from quite a flat field it’s new to me to be thinking about moving up a tall ladder, it’s crazy to me to think that six figures is achievable for me but I know that it is!

    1. Author

      Absolutely! There was a journalist at my company who actually made $400K a year… the rest of the newsroom accidentally found out and was pissed; somehow he lasted another two years. Being in NYC skews salaries, though. I doubt I would be making as much now if I had stayed in D.C.

  5. Hey Jane,

    I just discovered your blog this morning and I’m loving it so far! I’m excited to explore some more of your posts. I really like how you’re sharing the details of your career growth. As a fellow 20-something, it’s interesting to read about someone who is a bit further along the career path than myself. Thanks for sharing and keep up the great work 🙂

    1. Author

      Thanks, Zach. I’ve actually been a fan of FPF for a while, so I’m excited to have you here!

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