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Negotiation Workshop with Kristina Wright

By Pranav Burugula

Being part of the Hoeft Technology and Management Program provides a tremendous amount of career opportunities, whether it may be at one of our corporate affiliates or by using the skills we learn in the T&M program elsewhere. Due to this, there may be times when we are fortunate enough to have multiple offers for positions at several companies. However, in these scenarios it is important that we learn to not only compare our options with respect to our career goals, but also ensure that we receive fair compensation for our work. In the negotiation workshop led by Kristina Wright, a Career Advisor in Business Career Services at the Gies College of Business, Kristina walked us through the steps we should take to get the offer that is best for us, from our initial interviews to accepting the final offer. By learning these skills, I felt more confident that I can not only work at places I enjoy by reaching my career goals, but also ensure that I reach my financial goals in the process.

Kristina began her workshop by describing the general hiring process, and explaining key action items to do as well as major red flags to avoid before receiving our offers. While this section was relatively straightforward in explaining the initial application process, resumes, and interviews, there were a couple of points Kristina made that stuck out to me. One of these points was that we should always avoid discussing salary in our interviews. While I have only interviewed for internships so far, I knew it was possible for a full-time interviewer to discuss potential salary before making an offer. My understanding was that I should perform research on average compensation for the level of my work before heading into the interview, and use that information to ask the interviewer for an expected compensation level. However, Kristina explained that regardless of how far an interviewer may push me to provide a number, I have the right to refuse to discuss salary during the interview. This makes sense to me, as it not only prevents us from stating a number lower than what the company was prepared to provide, but it also ensures that salary does not become a deciding factor in the company extending an offer to me.

After discussing the application and interview process, Kristina began discussing the negotiation process that starts once we receive our offers. According to her, one of the most important steps we should take during this process is to receive everything in writing, as this way there is no chance for confusion (and no possibility for a company to go back on an agreement, in case they do so). This stage of the workshop is where I learned the most, as I had never truly considered the negotiation process yet. 

The first step in this process, according to Kristina, was to perform research on the average salary of other employees within a similar role, industry, and background. To do this, she suggested a tool on that allows us to identify the range of salaries we should expect for a given position after we input our experience, education, and work location. After we perform this research, we should then assess our financial goals, the value we believe we add to the company, and our bottom line salary (i.e. an amount below which we would not accept the offer, depending on everything from perceived value to living expenses). Once we figure this out, we should then share a salary range with recruiters that places our target salary at the lower bound. Kristina also suggested that for companies we feel excited to work at, we can share a minimum compensation that would guarantee our acceptance of the offer to add incentive for the recruiter to meet our request. She helped us get an idea of this conversation by going through a sample phone conversation with a recruiter. Once we convey our request to the recruiter, we should wait to receive written confirmation stating whether or not the company can meet our request, and then make our decision based on that.

One final step in the negotiation process that Kristina mentioned that stood out to me was that salary was not the only compensation we could negotiate for. Kristina encouraged us to consider benefits, such as paid time off, signing bonuses, stock options, and insurance, while we assess our bottom line and desired compensations. Especially at larger companies, Kristina shared that while they may offer salaries at a fixed amount depending on the level of our employment, it may be possible for us to compromise with recruiters by requesting additional paid time off or a larger signing bonus. I found this interesting, as it made me realize that compensation was not limited to a dollar amount, but also encompassed anything a company provides to employees in return for their work.

Overall, I found that the negotiation workshop led by Kristina greatly improved my ability to identify what I would be happy with to reach my career and financial goals. As I have only worked in internships thus far, I never considered exactly how I would negotiate an offer with my desired compensation, and I certainly could have fallen into the trap of discussing salary in a final interview. As a Hoeft Technology and Management student, I know that there is a likely chance I and my program peers will receive several enticing offers throughout our careers. Thanks to the negotiation workshop, we now know how to assess these offers and ensure that we feel satisfied with all aspects of our jobs, professionally and financially.

Pranav Burugula

Pranav is a Junior in T&M Class XXVII. He is studying Computer Science and recently completed his Software Development Internship at Amazon.

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