3 Things I Wish I Knew Before Accepting My First Job

 March 19, 2019
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I received my very first “real” job offer on a Friday afternoon, from a payphone in a midtown Manhattan subway station, where I was in town for some job interviews (Yep, a payphone! It was the mid-90s, before cell phones were ubiquitous).

HR: “We’d like to offer you the position of Marketing Assistant.”

Me: “Great!”

HR: “The salary will be… [insert insultingly low number, which was still more than I’d ever made as a teen or college student].”

Me: “Great!”

HR: “We’d like you to start on Monday.”

Me: “Um… great?”

I’d just landed my dream job in book publishing at one of the world’s top publishing houses in New York City. It felt like a dream. The problem? I was a 22-year-old recent college grad living with my parents in Massachusetts. And I was about to start a job in Manhattan in just over two days. I had Saturday to pack up my belongings and figure out a temporary place to stay in NYC, where I did not know a single person. That meant Sunday was moving day. It was thrilling, but incredibly stressful. It didn’t have to be.

I didn’t realize it at the time, but I made several mistakes on that 2-minute phone call. Here’s what I wish I had known ahead of time:

1. Never accept an offer on the spot.

I was so excited to get the offer that I was irrationally afraid of it slipping through my hands. As if taking a few days — or even hours — to think about it would cause them to change their minds and revoke the offer. In reality, they most certainly would have paid me the courtesy of a little time to think it over, had I simply asked.

I could have expressed my excitement and then asked for the weekend to review the offer. This may have been an issue, since they wanted me to start right away, but probably not (I’ll get to that in #2). Though it wasn’t an option for me back then, anyone receiving a phone offer now should also ask to receive all the details of the offer via email. There’s typically more to negotiate than just salary and start date.

Even if it’s your dream job, even if you’re just beginning in an entry level role and feel you have no leverage, take a moment. Your potential employer is going to ask for the conditions that are best for your potential employer. It’s your job to consider these and counter with what is reasonable and best for you. There’s almost always wiggle room. An offer is just the beginning of the conversation, and you’ll rarely find yourself in a more powerful position than you are immediately after the offer has been made.

2. You don’t have to start immediately.

There are very, very few cases in which an employer will need you to start your new role on the next business day, and that would likely only be in a case in which you’d explicitly said you could do so. If you say you are available “immediately,” they may actually want you to start immediately, so don’t say it. Even if “immediately” is true, pick a reasonable date that would work for you and that won’t require you to scramble.

Remember to have that date in the back of your mind during your interviews. You don’t want to tell them you’re available immediately, and then surprise them by asking for an extra month when they offer you the job.

In my case, accepting the position meant moving two states away and finding housing in NYC. So even though the HR person likely wanted to fill the spot and move on to the next item on her list, she almost certainly would have recognized the difficulty of my starting on the next business day had I addressed it!

3. Don’t accept the first salary offer, unless you’ve specifically named your price and they’ve met it.

I knew that book publishing wasn’t known at the time for being a high-paying industry, and I had a vague sense that entry-level publishing salaries were pretty low. But I didn’t know what “low” meant, because I had no basis for comparison. Now, thanks to the internet, social media discussions and sites like Fairygodboss, it’s much easier to discover what’s a reasonable starting salary in your industry.

As it turned out, not only was my entry-level salary almost unlivable on a New York City budget, but it had bigger implications for my earning power over the course of my career. I was promoted regularly, but my raises were always based on what I was making at the time. Because I’d started out by accepting such a low salary, it took years to climb out of the low-pay ditch I’d unwittingly dropped myself into.

Again, coming from a place of fear that I’d lose the offer, I immediately accepted what was almost certainly their bottom-rung offer. Of course they wouldn’t come right out of the gate with their highest number. It was my job to push back and find the most they were willing to pay for the role. But instead, I let them off the hook and then paid for it throughout my 20s.

Looking back, I don’t regret accepting the job. There were many times in those early years that I found myself having so much fun, I couldn’t believe it was actually work. It was everything I’d hoped it would be and then some, and I ended up staying for eight years. I also don’t beat myself up over my non-existent negotiation skills as a 22-year-old. It was adventure, and I learned all the good lessons — particularly the importance of self-advocacy.

This article originally appeared on Fairygodboss and was written by Rebecca Horan.

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LenderVariable APREligible Degrees 
2.50% – 6.30%1Undergrad
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2.05% – 5.25%2Undergrad
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1.89% – 7.99%3Undergrad
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Visit NaviRefi

2.24% – 7.99%4Undergrad
& Graduate

Visit SoFi

1.89% – 7.99%5Undergrad
& Graduate

Visit Earnest

1.86% – 7.98%Undergrad
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Visit Elfi

1.74% – 7.99%6Undergrad
& Graduate

Visit Purefy

2.24% – 9.23%7Undergrad
& Graduate

Visit Citizens

Check out the testimonials and our in-depth reviews!
1 Important Disclosures for Laurel Road.

Laurel Road Disclosures

All credit products are subject to credit approval.

Laurel Road began originating student loans in 2013 and has since helped thousands of professionals with undergraduate and postgraduate degrees consolidate and refinance more than $9 billion in federal and private school loans. Laurel Road also offers a suite of online graduate school loan products and personal loans that help simplify lending through customized technology and personalized service. In April 2019, Laurel Road was acquired by KeyBank, one of the nation’s largest bank-based financial services companies. Laurel Road is a brand of KeyBank National Association offering online lending products in all 50 U.S. states, Washington, D.C., and Puerto Rico. All loans are provided by KeyBank National Association, a nationally chartered bank. Member FDIC. For more information, visit www.laurelroad.com.

As used throughout these Terms & Conditions, the term “Lender” refers to KeyBank National Association and its affiliates, agents, guaranty insurers, investors, assigns, and successors in interest.

  1. Checking your rate with Laurel Road only requires a soft credit pull, which will not affect your credit score. To proceed with an application, a hard credit pull will be required, which may affect your credit score.
  2. Savings vary based on rate and term of your existing and refinanced loan(s). Refinancing to a longer term may lower your monthly payments, but may also increase the total interest paid over the life of the loan. Refinancing to a shorter term may increase your monthly payments, but may lower the total interest paid over the life of the loan. Review your loan documentation for total cost of your refinanced loan.
  3. After loan disbursement, if a borrower documents a qualifying economic hardship, we may agree in our discretion to allow for full or partial forbearance of payments for one or more 3-month time periods (not to exceed 12 months in the aggregate during the term of your loan), provided that we receive acceptable documentation (including updating documentation) of the nature and expected duration of the borrower’s economic hardship. During any period of forbearance interest will continue to accrue. At the end of the forbearance period, any unpaid accrued interest will be capitalized and be added to the remaining principle amount of the loan.
  4. Automatic Payment (“AutoPay”) Discount: if the borrower chooses to make monthly payments automatically from a bank account, the interest rate will decrease by 0.25% and will increase back if the borrower stops making (or we stop accepting) monthly payments automatically from the borrower’s bank account. The 0.25% AutoPay discount will not reduce the monthly payment; instead, the discount is applied to the principal to help pay the loan down faster.

Assumptions: Repayment examples above assume a loan amount of $10,000 with repayment beginning immediately following disbursement. Repayment examples do not include the 0.25% AutoPay Discount.

Annual Percentage Rate (“APR”): This term represents the actual cost of financing to the borrower over the life of the loan expressed as a yearly rate.

Interest Rate: A simple annual rate that is applied to an unpaid balance.

Variable Rates: The current index for variable rate loans is derived from the one-month London Interbank Offered Rate (“LIBOR”) and changes in the LIBOR index may cause your monthly payment to increase. Borrowers who take out a term of 5, 7, or 10 years will have a maximum interest rate of 9%, those who take out a 15 or 20-year variable loan will have a maximum interest rate of 10%.

KEYBANK NATIONAL ASSOCIATION RESERVES THE RIGHT TO MODIFY OR DISCONTINUE PRODUCTS AND BENEFITS AT ANY TIME WITHOUT NOTICE.

This information is current as of April 29, 2021. Information and rates are subject to change without notice.
 


2 Important Disclosures for LendKey.

LendKey Disclosures

Refinancing via LendKey.com is only available for applicants with qualified private education loans from an eligible institution. Loans that were used for exam preparation classes, including, but not limited to, loans for LSAT, MCAT, GMAT, and GRE preparation, are not eligible for refinancing with a lender via LendKey.com. If you currently have any of these exam preparation loans, you should not include them in an application to refinance your student loans on this website. Applicants must be either U.S. citizens or Permanent Residents in an eligible state to qualify for a loan. Certain membership requirements (including the opening of a share account and any applicable association fees in connection with membership) may apply in the event that an applicant wishes to accept a loan offer from a credit union lender. Lenders participating on LendKey.com reserve the right to modify or discontinue the products, terms, and benefits offered on this website at any time without notice. LendKey Technologies, Inc. is not affiliated with, nor does it  endorse,  any educational institution.

Subject to floor rate and may require the automatic payments be made from a checking or savings account with the lender. The rate reduction will be removed and the rate will be increased by 0.25% upon any cancellation or failed collection attempt of the automatic payment and will be suspended during any period of deferment or forbearance. As a result, during the forbearance or suspension period, and/or if the automatic payment is canceled, any increase will take the form of higher payments. The lowest advertised variable APR is only available for loan terms of  5 years and is reserved for applicants with FICO scores of at least 810.

As of 5/17/2022 student loan refinancing rates range from 2.05% APR – 5.25% Variable APR with AutoPay and 2.49% APR – 7.93% Fixed APR with AutoPay.


3 Important Disclosures for Navient.

Navient Disclosures

You can choose between fixed and variable rates. Fixed interest rates are 3.49% – 8.24% APR (3.24% – 7.99% APR with Auto Pay discount). Starting variable interest rates are 2.14% APR to 8.24% APR (1.89% – 7.99% APR with Auto Pay discount). Variable rates are based on an index, the 30-day Average Secured Overnight Financing Rate (SOFR) plus a margin. Variable rates are reset monthly based on the fluctuation of the index. We do not currently offer variable rate loans in AK, CO, CT, HI, IL, KY, MA, MN, MS, NH, OH, OK, SC, TN, TX, and VA.


4 Important Disclosures for SoFi.

SoFi Disclosures

Fixed rates range from 3.99% APR to 8.24% APR with a 0.25% autopay discount. Variable rates from 2.24% APR to 7.99% APR with a 0.25% autopay discount. Unless required to be lower to comply with applicable law, Variable Interest rates on 5-, 7-, and 10-year terms are capped at 8.95% APR; 15- and 20-year terms are capped at 9.95% APR. Your actual rate will be within the range of rates listed above and will depend on the term you select, evaluation of your creditworthiness, income, presence of a co-signer and a variety of other factors. Lowest rates reserved for the most creditworthy borrowers. For the SoFi variable-rate product, the variable interest rate for a given month is derived by adding a margin to the 30-day average SOFR index, published two business days preceding such calendar month, rounded up to the nearest one hundredth of one percent (0.01% or 0.0001). APRs for variable-rate loans may increase after origination if the SOFR index increases. The SoFi 0.25% autopay interest rate reduction requires you to agree to make monthly principal and interest payments by an automatic monthly deduction from a savings or checking account. This benefit will discontinue and be lost for periods in which you do not pay by automatic deduction from a savings or checking account. The benefit lowers your interest rate but does not change the amount of your monthly payment. This benefit is suspended during periods of deferment and forbearance. Autopay is not required to receive a loan from SoFi.


5 Rate range above includes optional 0.25% Auto Pay discount. Important Disclosures for Earnest.

Earnest Disclosures

Student Loan Refinance Interest Rate Disclosure Actual rate and available repayment terms will vary based on your income. Fixed rates range from 3.49% APR to 8.24% APR (excludes 0.25% Auto Pay discount). Variable rates range from 2.14% APR to 8.24% APR (excludes 0.25% Auto Pay discount). Earnest variable interest rate student loan refinance loans are based on a publicly available index, the 30-day Average Secured Overnight Financing Rate (SOFR) published by the Federal Reserve Bank of New York. The variable rate is based on the rate published on the 25th day, or the next business day, of the preceding calendar month, rounded to the nearest hundredth of a percent. The rate will not increase more than once per month. The maximum rate for your loan is 8.95% if your loan term is 10 years or less. For loan terms of more than 10 years to 15 years, the interest rate will never exceed 9.95%. For loan terms over 15 years, the interest rate will never exceed 11.95%. Please note, we are not able to offer variable rate loans in AK, IL, MN, NH, OH, TN, and TX. Our lowest rates are only available for our most credit qualified borrowers and contain our .25% auto pay discount from a checking or savings account. 


6 Important Disclosures for Purefy.

Purefy Disclosures

Purefy Student Loan Refinancing Rate and Terms Disclosure: Annual Percentage Rates (APR) ranges and examples are based on information provided to Purefy by lenders participating in Purefy’s rate comparison platform. For student loan refinancing, the participating lenders offer fixed rates ranging from 2.73% – 7.99% APR, and variable rates ranging from 1.74% – 7.99% APR. The maximum variable rate is 25.00%. Your interest rate will be based on the lender’s requirements. In most cases, lenders determine the interest rates based on your credit score, degree type and other credit and financial criteria. Only borrowers with excellent credit and meeting other lender criteria will qualify for the lowest rate available. Rates and terms are subject to change at any time without notice. Terms and conditions apply.  


7 Important Disclosures for Citizens.

CitizensBank Disclosures

Education Refinance Loan Rate Disclosure: Variable interest rates range from 2.24%-9.23% (2.24%-9.23% APR). Fixed interest rates range from 4.29%-9.73% (4.29%-9.73% APR). 

Undergraduate Rate Disclosure: Variable interest rates range from 5.37%- 8.81% (5.37% – 8.81% APR). Fixed interest rates range from 5.87% – 9.31% (5.87% – 9.31% APR).

Graduate Rate Disclosure: Variable interest rates range from 2.24% – 8.75% (2.24% – 8.75% APR). Fixed interest rates range from 4.29% – 9.25% (4.29% – 9.25% APR).

Education Refinance Loan for Parents Rate Disclosure: Variable interest rates range from 2.24%- 8.40% (2.24%- 8.40% APR). Fixed interest rates range from 4.29% – 8.90% (4.29% – 8.90% APR). 

Medical Residency Refinance Loan Rate Disclosure: Variable interest rates range from 2.24% – 8.75% (2.24% – 8.75% APR). Fixed interest rates range from 4.29% – 9.25% (4.29% – 9.25% APR).