Career Post: How I Went From $10/Hour to 6-Figure Salary in 2.5 years!
Bag and shoes: TJMaxx
Have you wanted to know what I do for a career? Since my blog exists to keep it real with my readers, I figured my second blog post would be about my career. I will share below all the details about my first job out of undergrad, to how I was 25 years old only making $10/hour, to how I now make an excellent salary working as a global project manager leading pharmaceutical development for a novel vaccine!
If we are honest with people, career paths are not as direct as we plan and hope them to be. The road is windy, difficult, and discouraging at many times. However, to get to the destination, you have to hold on to the seat handles and keep driving on into your life's purpose God has for you!
Let's go back to the beginning. For this post, I will just talk about my career (not much detail about my schooling in this post - check back for a subsequent post!). In undergrad, I was working for a national medical scribe company at one of their client's sites in Columbus Ohio. When I was hired in Fall of my senior year, I was immediately made Chief Scribe! My job was to work alongside an emergency medicine physician, completing all their electronic health record documentation for each patient they saw in the emergency department. This job was so tough, but the more shifts I worked, the more comfortable I got that I became skilled and the most asked-for scribe. Honestly, I almost never made it past the clinical training. The trainers would yell and scold me, but I guess I made up in my mind I was going to pass because I was hired on as the site's first Chief Scribe. My first patient I saw in the emergency department was a woman who needed an incision&drainage of a labial abscess. Let's just say - that smell - I never want to experience that ever again. The challenges I had in this job for 1 year was also being a student AND a full time Division 1 track and field athlete! If shifts went uncovered, I was on-call last minute to find the coverage for colleagues who couldn't come in or I had to work the shift if I was in town. Complete chaos to say the least - but honestly, i felt like a doctor and it felt cool. With my minimal emergency medicine knowledge, I "theoretically" had the skills to do a history and physical on many patients, even know many of which tests and labs to run, and sometimes in my head diagnose a patient, etc. Although the pay was $12/hour, It was a cool job and I learned so much about medicine in America.
After working at this site for 1 year, I was promoted to a junior project manager and I packed my bags 3 months after graduation and moved to Santa Fe, New Mexico. I love that city! The position started out great, but because I was living with my supervisor in the same apartment, things started to get hostile! By the end of the 6 months of setting up the site there (recruiting, interviewing, hiring, training, and working clinical shifts), it didn't end well. I had a terrible relationship with the supervisor towards the end, and I was ready to go. On top of it, I was doing my MPH part time through distance learning and working 80-90 hours per week! Say what?!?! Yes! I was paid hourly at $16 per hour plus overtime pay. You do the math. After the 6 months in Santa Fe, I was assigned to a site in Flint, Michigan! I have never experienced anything like living in Flint, MI. Basically I didn't go out anywhere because it's Flint MI as a single black female who knew no one in the town. NOT SAFE. My colleague and I also lived in a hotel for 3 months, near a highway! HA! The site was a primary care practice, so I didn't have to work as many hours. But my colleague and I both wanted to set that site up and get out of there, and we didn't have primary care experience, so there was a lot of tension to hurry up and get out of that place after we set the program up. Overall, my experience in this junior project manager role was decent - but - health care in America is pretty bad people. Especially, in these areas that are considered underserved. It's crazy, but another story for another day.
I was then promoted to senior project manager, and I got to work in cities like Gonzalez LA (1 hour from Baton Rouge), Neosho MO (1 hour from Joplin MO), Great Barrington MA, Richmond VA, and CT. I went on my first hike ever in Great Barrington MA! I ran into my college track teammate in New Orleans on Bourbon street! I earned about $42K salary + overtime + profit sharing. Much time hadn't lapsed from my first project to my fifth project, so some of my projects weren't on the profitable side as of yet, but I'd say maybe I was around ~$50K gross salary. It was a very high stress job. Long story short, I booked a trip home for Thanksgiving weekend without informing my manager. There was an email sent out about instructions to take trips home, and I overlooked it because at the time I didn't think it was a big deal. It was on my dime. Nevertheless, I was fired. Life happens. We live and we learn. Learned to honor your leaders. And also learned also that people can't keep you bondage. If I hadn't have been fired, I wouldn't be where I am now so that is a blessing. Also when I see people who have been in that company for a long time that previously had dreams to go to medical school and aren't even pursing it anymore, it's sad because that job took their dream away from them!
After being fired, I packed my bags and moved back home to desperately find another job in Philly. After 3 months, I found a job at a local college of medicine as an EMR analyst. This job was good at the beginning, but after a while, the terrible EMR system caused so much stress and drama for so many people. Have you ever had physicians calling your phone yelling and complaining at you because the EMR sucks and you can't do anything about their complaints but log the complaints in the computer and take the next call? Yeah, that was me. But it was a average starting salary that allowed me to live alone in a 1 BR apartment in Philly, so that's why I was there. Until the stress took a toll. On top of that, one of my colleagues would be classified as a "predator" on young pure women. Ladies - don't go out drinking alone with only male colleagues. Some (not all men) will PREY on you. Hey! I said I would be honest in the post didn't I? I am sharing so that you don't let let men prey on you. After 9 months on the job, I quit! I ended up living in the city for 7 more months (without a job), and then my dad invited me to move back home. Shout out to the fathers! But it wasn't before before my credit card debt mounted - another topic for a different post!
LONG STORY NOT SO SHORT - moving back home was the best thing to ever happen to me! It was truly God who kept shifting the atmosphere so I could get closer to Him! My Christians know what I'm talking about. No job, but God was blessing me with His Word from the Bible. That's when I began to grow in many areas of my life, began to reverence the instructions God had for my life. I was at the church like 4 times a week - yeah! Bible study, volunteering with the kids at youth night and tutoring them in math, just helping out where I could. I loved God and I honored my leader (Senior Pastor) by serving. During that time, I got a $10 hour/20 hour per week job at the local children's hospital in infectious disease clinical research. I enjoyed the job because infectious diseases interests me. When I was 13, my cousin died in Nigeria of what suspected as malaria. Who truly knows what it was. At some point in college, my dad's best friend died of a catheter associated urinary tract infection after he was admitted to a nursing home post-stroke. All preventable deaths, so I take great interest in infectious disease. After a little over a year in the job, I was promoted to a full time clinical research assistant and then 4 months later to a clinical research coordinator. It was a great department and great physicians/researchers. However, everywhere has its challenges. At one point, my car broke down and I no longer had a car to get to the outpatient practice like 1.25 hours from my house. It became obvious to the research assistant I was supporting on her project saw me as just a number. She couldn't understand why I couldn't go out the next day and buy a car. When you don't have money, you can't buy a car. It's simple. It was about 1 or 2 months into my promotion to full time clinical research assistant, I moved my church membership to a church in Philadelphia where the powerful anointing to destroy bondages from my life and I began to prosper! I was living beneath my spiritual privileges! And God began to restore. I began to get promotion after promotion! I was able to buy a new car during that time point, by the grace of God. I was at this hospital for about 1.5 years.
By October 2016, I was offered a contractor position at a pharmaceutical company in the area, working as a project manager in Health Economics and Outcomes Research. I worked there for about 14 months! I knew nothing about pharma nor about HEOR. But when a friend from my church said I needed to apply to pharma, I reverenced him and the advice, and applied. Sometime we have to have an ear to listen how God uses other people to bless us. Yes, I had challenging projects, and I worked with challenging people! But they were God-sent because God was pruning me, training me, and perfecting my character and other areas of my life. I wanted to leave and quit so many times because I didn't really know what I was doing half the time, but I knew I couldn't leave. My peak was at a time one of the Scientists yelled at me for 5 minutes on the phone with her manager on the line and other colleagues. I had to sit there and keep quiet and not lash back. But it was my obedience to walk with patience, humility, kindness that elevated me! See, people don't know when they lash out at you, talk bad about you, treat you terribly, that they actually elevate you! Somebody shout *elevation*!
And one day, like God had promised, I received a full time employee offer to the position I am working in today. I am a global project manager working on a program for a novel vaccine. I will not provide details here, but God is good! Like I mentioned, I love the therapeutic area of infectious disease (ID) so working in vaccines is a God-send. I also have a desire to become a pediatric specialist physician, so it is also a God-send that I work with ID and pediatrics physicians who made the transition to pharma! I am learning so much on my job and my supervisors and department are great! I love my teams, and God truly blessed me. Like I mentioned, I had to hold onto the handle bars of my seat and be patient! I had to stand still and see the salvation of the Lord. Yeah, moving back in with parents wasn't ideal for me. Yeah working $10 per hour jobs at 25/26 were not ideal for me. Yeah, being fired or quitting jobs weren't ideal for me. However, we have to exercise patience and wait our turn to be blessed on our career path journey!
I posted this to encourage you all that our career journey is not going to be this straight easy road. We have to go through alot of trials and tribulations so that we can be perfected and prepared for the jobs that God wants to give us that have greater responsibility and greater measure of authority/leadership. I want to encourage you that if you are not where you think you should be today, that you will get there. Just trust God and put Him first, and His promise is to prosper you and to give you an expected end in every area of you life.
Be blessed, much love,
Leave a comment and let me know how your journey has been and what you need help with!
**Opinions are my own and in no way reflect the opinions of my employer or my school**