Thursday, February 1, 2018

Busting through that glass ceiling

I accepted a new job at the end of last year. It's in my same field but a step up to a bigger company, bigger team, bigger budget, bigger goals. And bigger salary. I finally broke through six figures!

Five years ago, I had just left my job to go on maternity leave with Pickle. I knew we had a very sick baby, and I knew I was going to have to stay home with her for longer than I'd planned. I also "knew" that I was ruining my career by doing this, but what else could I do? I was making $35,000 and Peanut made almost twice as much and had much better health insurance. It was obvious who had to stay home.

I had heard all my life that as a woman if you step out of the race for kids, you lose your chances at high-paying jobs, at career advancement. I bought into it and when I started trying to go back to work I undersold myself, badly. A lucky break got my foot in the door at my last job, and I proved the heck out of myself. I was so hungry to be back at work, to be doing what I love and what I trained for. I knocked it out of the park for two years and got recruited to join the new place. And what's ironic? I am definitely making more than I would be making if I had stayed on the track I was on.

Obviously, everyone's story is different, and my situation includes at least as much luck as talent or skill. But staying home with babies does not have to be a career death-sentence. I don't think there's a magic formula for making it work, except to say that don't let anyone else talk you out of your own worth. I was able to identify some skills that staying at home taught me - negotiation, advocacy, perspective, superduper budgeting skills - and how those translate into the workplace. I learned a lot about myself and what I want out of life, which gives me a drive I never had before. And that catapaulted me higher than I'd be if I hadn't had something to stretch for.

So far, the new job is going well. We're trying to avoid lifestyle creep. As we did last year, we'll be maxing out my pre-tax retirement account, as well as fully funding Roth IRAs and an HSA. Last year, that was all we could do, but this year we'll have a little extra to start saving towards the kids' college funds or general savings for something else. The biggest danger of lifestyle creep so far has been lunches - I've been invited to lunch multiple times every week since I started and that make sense as I'm getting to know people but isn't something I want to get used to. Otherwise, we are living much like we did when we made half as much, which sets our future up for even better things.

It's kind of silly that $100,000 is a benchmark goal - there's nothing inherently special about it. I did feel a particular satisfaction sailing past it, but hopefully I can be content here for a while.

1 comment:

  1. Congrats! Your hard work paid off!

    When I realized that I was making six figures, I called the only other woman I know who made that much, my older sister, and celebrated over the phone on how far we had come. It was a momentous occasion.


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