This is an interesting article from the New York Times. Research shows that your first job dictates how much your income will be your entire working career.
The recent evidence shows quite clearly that in today’s economy starting at the bottom is a recipe for being underpaid for a long time to come. Graduates’ first jobs have an inordinate impact on their career path and their “future income stream,” as economists refer to a person’s earnings over a lifetime.
Let’s put this in perspective for me. Here are the jobs I had, after finishing my undergraduate degree in music education:
* 1999: Substitute music teacher in a low-paying district: $70/day
* 1999: Summer job: driving a van for a drum and bugle corps 12,000 miles over seven weeks: $500/wk
* 1999-2001: Associate Director, Scholastic Services of a non-profit organization: $28,000/yr with 3% increases
* 2002-2004: Temp to permanent administrative associate at my current company: started at $34,000 plus bonuses, overtime, etc., with average yearly increases
* 2004: Taught high school music for one semester, remaining part time at current company: $40,000
* 2004-2006: Returned full-time to current company: currently making $42,800 plus bonuses, overtime, etc.
When I returned to my current company in 2004, I took on a new position (accounting) with which I had basically no experience. I seem to have adapted well considering I was awarded by latest position.
According to this article, my salaries dictate how much I’ll make throughout my career. Finishing up my master’s degree will give me a boost if I change jobs again. Salary was never a motivation for me originally; otherwise I wouldn’t have chosen to study music education. Even if doing so is making it more difficult for me to get ahead, especially in this area of the country, I wouldn’t change anything given the chance.
Published or updated May 26, 2006.