Question: How Do I Determine My “Salary Expectations”?

A senior asks:

A few of the jobs I am looking at ask for “salary expectations” to be sent along with my resume and cover letter. Do you have any other advice on how to go about this? 

There are a number of resources available to help you figure out what’s a reasonable salary range for the job.

  • The Living Wage Calculator will help you to determine how much it will cost you to live wherever the job is. It’s not an answer to the question, but it can help you to determine what your absolute minimum is.
  • Glassdoor.com has crowd-sourced information about salaries at specific companies. This information can help you determine what a reasonable salary might be. It also has a “know your worth” calculator.
  • Not all locations for all companies are listed on Glassdoor. You can find general expectations by industry for your area with this job seeker’s salary calculator.
  • This cost of living calculator can help you further contextualize the numbers the other calculators come up with.

However, your “salary expectations” can also reasonably vary depending on your enthusiasm for the job. If you are genuinely concerned that you lack the necessary qualifications for the job want, then a number below the low end of the range could make you a more attractive candidate for a job that’s something of a stretch. On the other hand, if it’s a job that you’re well qualified for but aren’t excited by, it might be worth calculating the salary that would allow you to feel enthusiastic about the position, even if the number is at the high end. Both of these strategies involve risk — that you’ll be offered less than they might have otherwise been willing to pay you OR that you’ll price yourself out of a job that you’d otherwise be offered.

Here’s a useful article on the vexed issue of salary disclosure.

Things to Do at Quad Day

University of Illinois Quad Day.

Quad Day is coming! And yes, you should go.

What should you do there?

  1. Find the college version of something you enjoyed in high school, and sign up.
  2. Find something that will allow you to use your skill with or love of words, and sign up.
  3. Find something that is entirely outside your experience, and learn more.
  4. Find something that seems interesting to you for no particular reason, and learn more.
  5. Register to vote! Lots of political groups will be out registering voters. No, it’s not a hot election year, but

— If you’ll be 18 in time for the 2018 election on Nov. 6, you can register to vote in the primaries, which will take place on March 20 (during our spring break, but early and absentee voting are available).

— Students who register in Urbana-Champaign are eligible to vote in Urbana-Champaign. (You can read more about voter registration in Champaign County here.)

— This Congressional district (IL-13) currently has a Republican representative, and it will be hotly contested in 2018. Whatever your political leaning, your vote can make a difference in this district.

— Your vote counts whether you participate or not. Both parties work from their assumptions about what students-in-general do. The only way to make your vote say what you mean is to cast it.

 

Yes, Internships!

It’s the time of year when internships opportunities for the fall semester abound: paid, unpaid, in the community, around campus, and even right here in the English department.

Should you apply for internships?

YES: Professional experience while you’re still in college can help in three ways: (1) building your skills, (2) helping you explore your career options, and (3) giving you evidence to present to employers of your value.

BUT: Much depends on what your goals are and what the internship offers. An internship isn’t a magic key that unlocks the door of full-time post-college employment. It’s one of many ways to get professional experience.

SO: Read internship descriptions carefully. Think about what you want to get out of an internship and the goals you have. If your goal is simply to get some experience so that you can figure out what career goals you WANT, then it makes sense to apply broadly. If you already have some ideas about your career plans, then target your efforts towards opportunities that will move you along your chosen path. Continue reading

How to Get Started? A Post for Freshmen and New Transfers

University of Illinois Quad Day.

Yes, I’m talking to you: incoming freshmen and transfers. You’re getting bombarded with information from all sides, and it’s hard to take it all in. Getting a job after graduation feels a LONG way off, and if you have any brain cells available to devote to thinking about your future career, they are probably firing randomly.

The good news: you don’t need to figure anything out right now.

The bad news? It’s not actually all that bad. It’s just this: “figuring anything out” in the future will be easier if you do stuff now. That’s really all you need to know for now: do stuff.

What kind of stuff? That depends.

  • If you need to work in college, you’ve been getting emails about how to look beyond retail and fast food openings* to jobs and internships that will help you build some professional skills. Go ahead and follow the links. If any of the advertised openings sound interesting to you, follow the instructions for applying to them.
  • Did you do a lot of extracurricular activities in high school? Don’t stop now! Your clubs, volunteer work, and recreation can give you valuable and relevant experience. The difference? You’ll have a lot more freedom in deciding how and when to fill your time. The goal now isn’t college applications — it’s learning more about yourself, what you’re good at, what kind of difference you want to make in the world (and building the skills you’ll need to make that difference).**
  • Has volunteering or community service been an important part of your life up to now? Look for ways to act on those values in college. The campus and local community offers a lot of ways to get involved, to create meaningful change, to explore your scope for leadership.
  • Did you decide to major in English or Creative Writing because you are passionate about the written word? You’ll consume and create a lot of words in your courses, but campus also offers a lot of way to produce them: editing various publications (Re:Search, Montage, Daily Illini, buzz), assisting with open mic nights, getting involved with volunteer radio and TV efforts, joining theater groups, collaborating with others on events and projects. Creating, editing, and producing original content is valuable and relevant experience.

You don’t need to do all of these things from day one! One or two alone can be the center of a meaningful college experience. The important thing is to give yourself opportunities outside the classroom to discover what you’re good at and what’s important to you. The better you understand yourself, the easier it will be to identify the career directions you want to pursue.

_____________________________________

*Of course, if you really enjoy customer service work, go ahead and do more of it! — but with purpose and direction. There are a lot of career options for people who who are good at connecting with others–particularly if you’re good enough at it to advance to a managerial role.

**Quad Day can be overwhelming, but it will expose you to the vast range of clubs, organizations, and service that is available to you. Click here for our advice on how to cope with the abundance.