I went from earning 34K in an admin role to 81K as a Customer Success SpecialistFeatured

Our Salary Paths series aims to give fellow Elphas a reference point for salary negotiations and encourage more women to talk about compensation. We hope that opening up the conversation will contribute to more pay transparency and equitable pay.

Interested in sharing your Salary Path with us? Please fill out this form here and we will get back to you (can be posted anonymously, too! 😉 ).


When I graduated from college, I landed a job as an administrator at a tutoring center. Unfortunately, the pay was only 34K, and I was too eager for a job to negotiate. I quit after eight months to prepare for a Master's program, but then COVID hit, and I realized that school wasn't the path for me.

I did a few part-time jobs as an English tutor and then interned as a community manager for The Tempest. The job was unpaid, but I loved it and stayed for almost a year. I then moved on to part-time work as a social media manager for a man starting his own resume business. The pay was only $100 a week, but luckily, I lived with my parents in the Bay Area and had no rent to worry about. I had also paid off my college debt of 7K from my time as an administrator.

However, as my savings dwindled down, I started applying for full-time social media roles. In 2021, I was offered a role at Kapwing as a Social Media & Community Lead with a salary of 80K. However, before accepting the job, I did my research using BuiltInSF to look up the average pay for my role. I also considered my skills and sent an email explaining that the average pay for a Social Media Lead in SF is about 100K. After this, they offered me 90K, which I accepted.

Unfortunately, I only worked in that role for about four months because the CEO decided to deprioritize social media. I was then offered to move to either the content team or the customer relations team with a pay reduction. After talking to my manager, who was also the Customer Relations Manager, I decided to take the Customer Success Specialist role, which paid 75K. Even with the reduction, I still earned more than some of my new teammates, who were in the same role.

To get a pay increase, my manager candidly told me that I needed to work towards a promotion. I wasn't too worried about a promotion yet, but I took on additional responsibilities, such as leading regular meetings and cross-functional work to help align different teams. After about eight months of hard work, my manager helped me get promoted, and my current pay after promotion is 81K.

Looking back, I realize that my journey was not a straight line, but it taught me several valuable lessons. First, don't be afraid to negotiate for what you're worth. Doing your research and advocating for yourself can make a big difference. Second, it's essential to have a supportive network of people who believe in you and are willing to help you along the way. Finally, it's crucial to plan ahead. Having planned for my promotion ahead of time, I was able to secure it when the time came.

My intention in sharing my story is to give back to the community and offer advice to those who may be struggling with their own career journeys. Remember to keep pushing forward, even if your path is not always clear. I would never want to encourage free work, but if you see long-term value, sometimes, if you are able, reducing your monetary compensation can work to your advantage later on.

Congratulations Talia! I'm so glad you were able to stand up for yourself and ask for the comp you wanted (or at least close).What's your strategy to negotiate? And are there other aspects of the comp you wanted to account for eg equity or other benefits?
My strategy isn’t different than what most people recommend. I looked up my job title in my area on BuiltIn to see how much average salary was. I had sent an email after my job offer about the avg. pay being 100K and they adjusted to 90K—original offer was 80K. So I took the 90K with a little less stock options. I think retrospectively I wish I asked for 401K matching since that’s something I see as a large benefit in the long run vs immediate income.