June 26, 2009
I had the mother's number on speed dial. Two days ago, she offered a job tutoring her three kids. We negotiated the salary. And since then, I've been conflicted.
--it can lead to future contacts
--hourly rate is much lower than what I earned at the beginning of grad school
--i've since added credentials and experience
--the job is too many hours per week given I need to finish dissertation
--i'd be driving almost 40 miles round trip, with little compensation
Ultimately, I decided to play out this asking experiment as far as I could. See if I could be successful in asking, one last round.
I took a small risk by assuming there are more tutoring jobs out there, but I felt safe doing so because it's summer. If she said no, I would lose the job offer. If she said yes, I would obtain my lowest target of an extra $10 per hour -- or $540 over the course of the summer. It was still far below what I know I should be earning, but as a first tutoring job in this city I can take a pay cut, until other clients start rolling in. (And/or I finish my dissertation and get a real job.)
Plus, this rate is a compromise between my target and feeling like a total pushover.
I dialed her number. She picked up.
"Hello? This is La Roxy, how are you?"
"Hello! Good, thank you. You?"
"Great. Do you have a moment to talk?"
"Yes, now is good."
"Thank you. I was thinking about our salary discussion on Wednesday, and I've come to the conclusion that if I factor in preparation time, grading papers, plus travel, that brings my rate to around $25 per hour. I was wondering if you would be willing to pay $50 per hour, or $75 per session, instead of $60 per session. That would ensure my time is compensated fairly."
My voice was steady. It felt great to be asking.
"I need to think about it."
Gained I: Unsure.
Next, I headed to a nearby library to put up a flyer about tutoring. I asked where the bulletin board is, and the librarian told me only community groups can use it.
Gained II: wasted 10 minutes.