An Open Letter To My CEO
talia jane
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Talia, it’s hard out there. It doesn’t have to be forever. You can make your next job work while you sharpen your skills, network, and keep your eye out for that next opportunity. You are obviously a good writer and I call BS on others saying that your degree was wasted. I think you have all the right tools to get where you want to be. I really do. I think you are going to make it in spite of this setback.

I majored in art history in college, worked a little bit, went back with scholarships to pay for my master’s degree, and this past year, at 28, I attained my goal of becoming a program manager, paid off my husband’s student loans, and maxed out both our retirement accounts. Now he’s just finished his own advanced degree and has his first job in the field making good money. Things were hard for us until they weren’t.

I got by first on 10K doing a year of national service, then 23K working in schools. It worked because I knew it wasn’t forever, and I was good at budgeting. You’ve got to start living with roommates so you bring home more money, get rid of the car and take public transit, and read Leanne Brown’s Good and Cheap cookbook. If you have a health plan, use it, or you will pay down the line. Better yet, move somewhere else with better paying work and lower cost of living. San Francisco is notoriously expensive and for the work you’re doing, you don’t have to stay in CA to do it.

Other readers: we as a society have to consider if it’s OK for company like Yelp to pay its full-time employees 20K/year in the most expensive city (isn’t it about on par with NYC?) in the country. For an unencumbered young person like Talia, she can eventually move past this job with her education and skills. But that’s not possible for everyone, and the simple fact is that there are not enough jobs with livable pay for everyone who needs one. The Census Bureau says average US household income is less than 54K. For a very large number of people, jobs like Talia’s are not entry-level —they’re as good as it gets. 20K/year in San Franciso is not sustainable, even with great healthcare. Why shouldn’t those who work full-time for a major, profitable company like Yelp have enough to cover the necessities and some savings?

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