The ₱37k debate

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Recently, the tweet above went viral in many different social media platforms. It raised the question of whether or not this fresh grad was entitled, or that we live in a country where we’re so used to being underpaid that asserting our value means we’re too privileged.

I remember when I was job hunting fresh off college. A company offered me a copywriter role, but before disclosing the rate, they said, and in verbatim “you’re overqualified for the role but we’d like to have you in our team”. It was ₱12k a month. That time, I already have professional writing experience of 3 years and was already earning a little bit of cash on the side while finishing my degree. So I turned down the offer. In my head I was thinking, I didn’t spend 4 years in college to get minimum wage— the same amount as what others without a Bachelor’s degree can actually get.

I would agree that there is some form of privilege attached to turning down a job offer when many struggle with unemployment even pre-COVID-19. It was an opportunity, but I also knew that I can do better than that, however high or low my perceived value of myself was.

While writing this piece, I came across a related post on Facebook:

Internships outside the country of residence is pretty common, with some schools and courses even requiring it. Truth be told, ₱60k per month may be an entry-level rate in the US. With a VP based in Europe, the company may be based offshore, so that rate makes sense. But disparaging the grief of many including those with several years of experience getting lower than ₱60k is another story.

Going back to my first job, I took on a role of a graphic artist for ₱16k a month, with the office just a 15-minute walk away from my house. During that time, I felt that was enough for me to proceed, so I did. But for the person who turned down a ₱37k entry-level role, that’s for her to decide and no one else.

Both posts may or may not be true. But case in point, regardless of her internship experience or how good she was during the interview, it still made me ask if and how people would react differently if this person came from a state university or a college you’ve never heard of.. and that’s something we all need to ponder on, too.

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