Welcome to Ambition Diaries, where women share their real stories of striving for more — and what actually happened. Meet Carla, a New York-based, 35-year old, working in marketing. Carla is a pseudonym to protect her identity. Here's our conversation (edited for length and clarity).
I graduated in 2008 and had all these great ideas of working as a fashion buyer in New York City. You realize very quickly how hard it is going to be to find that "dream job".
So my first job out of college was for a non-profit organization as an event planner. I was doing a lot of organizing logistics and I really wanted a more creative job. I wanted to write. So I worked really hard at getting that experience outside of my day job.
I can't remember how long I was looking for that coveted marketing job, but I did get an offer. It wasn't the kind of creative role that I wanted, but I felt like it was a great opportunity to get into the industry.
I got an offer from this agency and it was for forty thousand dollars. I had an offer letter, like the PDF with all the information on benefits and stuff. I don't remember what exactly I said, but I got the offer up to forty five thousand.
When I talked to the recruiter, he made it sound like someone higher up came back from being out of the office, and got up to speed on my position and the salary that I negotiated, and they rescinded the offer.
What did you think in that moment?
I was definitely shocked. It felt like a gut punch.
And do you remember what you said in the moment to the recruiter?
It's crazy that I don't remember because that was such a devastating point in my career. I just remember sitting in my car taking this conversation.
I just kind of sat there with my tail between my legs and I didn't push back or demand to know you know why or push for real answers.
I definitely think it's more respectful to deliver that kind of news over the phone, but it catches you off guard and you're not prepared to have a well thought out response.
What is the aftermath of that experience?
I was using my network a lot for advice and connections. So I ended up going back to my network.
I think I flipped it and said I didn't end up accepting it or going with the offer, which is such a lie.
But that same person did connect me with a job that wasn't in the agency setting. It was for a technology company, but it was being more creative – getting to do a lot of writing.
So it worked out where I may not have had that chance at the other company to make a jump between being more operations focused to being on the creative side. And I did get the forty five thousand dollar salary.
I can't remember if they threw out that number or if I threw out that number. Regardless, I think I was happy with it because it was the number I originally negotiated at the other job. So who knows I could have maybe pushed for higher?
One job that I did negotiate for, I pushed for a few extra thousand dollars because the offer that they gave me was almost exactly what I was leaving my current job for. Like, "Look, this is not a better offer financially than what I have right now". And they did end up giving me more.
The recruiter was honest and frank with me. He said, “Look, we were originally looking to hire for like this rate, this is the highest I can go. I can't do any more than that.”
And I would imagine that, independent of the actual numbers, it just felt good to have somebody talk to you that way.
Yeah, like a person. Not like a resource you're trying to get the best deal out of.
I [still] think it's always worth pushing for more.
And I know so much of it has to do with your personal circumstance - at different stages in our lives we can afford to take more or less risk.
I think that it's just always worth it. Even if it's only five hundred dollars or a thousand dollars.
Do you have a story to tell about how ambition has played out in your life — for better or for worse? Let us know in the comments.
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