March 11, 2015 — We’ve all heard it said that “you don’t get what you don’t ask for” (or “you miss 100% of the shots you don’t take,” or “if you don’t ask, the answer is always no”). Most people don’t exactly live by the phrases they saw on inspirational posters in their ninth grade classrooms. But as someone who has never been afraid to ask questions (how else are you going to learn anything?), I think some of these corny sayings actually apply to real life a lot more often than we think.
In my first job after college I was a minion; I made phone calls and organized filing cabinets. My slightly older coworkers made fun of me for not knowing how to use a fax machine (a skill I have not retained, mostly by choice). But I was grateful. While most of my fellow graduates were still struggling to find jobs, or “taking a year off,” I had a job that paid my bills and allowed me to live in the city of my dreams (that would be “NEW YORRRK”—cue Alicia Keys).
I was also appreciative of my second job, which was my first real design job. It was an opportunity I wasn’t 100% qualified for, but the company gave me a chance and I thrived right away. I was traveling, designing, and quickly gaining responsibility. There were rumors that I would never get a raise where I worked, but I didn’t care; my business card said “Designer” on it! Until one day I realized I’d moved up so quickly that I should have asked for a raise a long time before.
So I asked. I asked my boss, who said I had to wait until the new year. I asked again in the new year, and management said I needed a performance review. I asked for a review, and was told that everyone needed a review. I asked so many times that soon enough, everyone was busy filling out our company’s review forms—though not everyone was happy about that!
I, on the other hand, was thrilled to be reviewed, and subsequently got not only the raise I wanted, but the acknowledgement I’d been waiting for. Because the feeling of being valued and appreciated for what you’re doing is (almost) better than the money. (If only we could pay our bills with appreciation!)
I recently started a new job. After the first few months of “You’ll love it here!” and “We’re so happy to have you,” a coworker shared a familiar word of warning. “You’ll never get a raise here,” she told me. To which I replied, “Have you ever asked for one?”