The rent it too high! Raise minimum wage! I can’t pay my bills, I make minimum wage! There are a number of people in this country who live pay check to paycheck, can’t pay their bills, don’t make enough to support their families etc. Some situations are circumstantial, some is lack of knowledge, many are in school, some made bad choices. Whatever your situation is, today is a new day. You can start to grow your career from the bottom if you put your mind to it. Here are my tips to go from minimum wage to maximum growth.
Don’t slap a bandage on it
There has been a lot of talk about raising the minimum wage lately. Seattle being a big one. There are many differing opinions on the matter. The fiscal times states that it would help or hurt workers and businesses. The department of labor thinks a minimum wage increase will be great! This contributor for Forbes thinks it will not yield the desired results of making it easier on people to pay their bills, and contribute to the economy. I think increasing the minimum wage slaps a big bandage on a festering wound that really needs stitches. It fixes the problem, for a time. It allows low wage worker to contribute more to the economy, for a time. Then, inflation catches up and you are back to square one. The wound that really needed stitches, has opened up again. That solution is short term. But, there is hope!
So, what do you want to do when you grow up
That question has many facets to it. Some know they want to be a doctor, teacher, pilot etc. but some don’t. Too many people mindlessly clock in eight hours a day, or more, at a job they don’t care to do. Some feel trapped because they don’t know what else they can do because of their skill set, or education. How does one get out of this vicious cycle?
What do you like to do
What do you enjoy doing on your off time? There’s where you really want to start. If you like to do something, you will be far more motivated to learn and improve that skill. Do you like to cook, read, write, run, crochet, wood work, whatever you like to do, make that your starting point. I’m not saying your hobby will lead to your perfect job, but it can get you on the path that will be best suited for you.
How can I turn what I like to do into a career?
If you enjoy cooking, crocheting, or wood working you might be happier at a job where you can use your hands. If creating something with your own hands is rewarding to you, there are many jobs like that, even if they don’t fit exactly into your hobbies. It is important to know these things because if you work in an office answering phones, you may find yourself very unfulfilled. On the other hand if you tend to prefer consistency, predictability, and a concrete schedule to your day, an office job may be far better suited to your needs. I would recommend speaking with a career coach, or someone who can look at what you like to do, and help you pick out a career path.
How do I get from point A to point B?
Once you know what you want to do, how do you go from your minimum wage job, to your fulfilling career? That can be a tough one, and can seem daunting! But, how do you eat an elephant? One bite at a time.
If you want to be a paralegal, what do open paralegal positions require? If you want to be in a management position, what are the required skills? What tools do you need to have in your tool belt to to the job the want to do? What companies hire people to do what you want to do? Where do I begin?!?! First, what are some good companies in the area that hired someone of your desired skills? For example, if you want to be a welder, find welder job openings. What do they require? If you want to be a pilot do the same! You can check out company websites, or job search engines (indeed, career builder etc.) talking with someone at the employment office may help too. Then you at least have a starting point. You can start to set tangible goals from there. On your own this can seem overwhelming, but there are companies, and non profits that specialize in helping you get the skills to go toward your dream job.
Remember, I make minimum wage! How can I afford school, and apprenticeships when I struggle to make rent!
Minimum wage isn’t much but there are free resources out there to help you get to where you want to be. Especially if continuing education (beyond high school) is involved. First, how much education do you need? You may not need a full bachelors degree. There are classes I have never used in my career (ie. business calculus, I’m a marketing person!) I wish I had just taken the classes I needed I would be in a heck of a lot less debt! I realized I like property management and real estate, neither of which require a degree. However, some of the classes I took were applicable to my career. See what works. See if you can do a paid internship, or part time internship along with your job. There are options out there.
You are your best advocate and cheerleader
The best thing you can do while you are doing your research is be your own advocate for a better position. Don’t rely on your boss or your co-workers to make you look good. Companies love seeing how you have made or saved a company money. (Don’t forget time is money) If you come up with a process that saves you 3 hours on a task, document it on your resume! 3 hours saved per day, per week, even per month ads up. If you made the company money by convincing customers to buy your products document the process! Make sure you have an in depth paper trail of your accomplishments! This is the best thing you can do for your career growth. You are your own advocate for your career.
Growing with a good company
There are options for growing with a good company, you can make pretty decent pay in management positions. For example, Starbucks has an continuing education option for their partners. There are other companies as well that do the same. Getting into these companies at the retail level is not very difficult, you typically don’t need a degree or special certificate. Many larger companies will offer advancement opportunities, tuition reimbursement, 401K, and health insurance options. They want good employees, and will pay extra to retain them. It’s good for business to have happy employees. This can be a good option for people who thrive on working with people, enjoy the challenges and rewards of management, or, for those who desire more flexibility with their schedule.
Working minimum wage and trying to pay bills is tough. Whether you are trying to recover from your own mistakes, a teenager trying to get by, or you were dealt a bad hand it is not easy. You can get over that hump and be successful with the right tools, perseverance, and patience!