In one week, I'll be 30 years old. By 30 many of us hope that we have our lives sorted out somewhat but in Silicon Valley that can seem impossible in face of the brutal competitive job frontier that formed over the last 20 years.
I even did it “right.” I attended a 4 year university straight out of high school and obtained a Bachelor’s Degree. Most of the good paying jobs out there require this as a minimum aside from their laundry list of high tech skills and pound on the years of impossible experience they require and, well, you feel like an utter failure by 30.
In Silicon Valley, if you haven’t had your own start-up, if you don’t sit on a Board of Directors, and if you don’t have multiple degrees (preferably a B.S. degree, no pun intended) then you pretty much have nothing…or do you?
Let me start by saying: I am a normal girl. I wasn’t born into a wealthy family and like many alumni out there, I struggle to pay off the load of debt I owe for the higher education I was required to get to even consider having a nice salary. I grew up in East Side San Jose and my parents were hard workers who earned every cent they received. They grew up in an era when purchasing a home in Silicon Valley was common and achievable. I am not special. I don’t have a startup company in my name and I do not have an engineering degree. So how did I figure out a way to move up in my career and increase my salary? I promise you it is possible and it isn’t magic. You are never stuck in a career situation. It takes hard work, patience, failures, and diligence but it can happen.
In April 2016 I was teaching at a private school. It is no secret that teaching is one of the most underpaid professions out there although it’s the most necessary profession next to doctors and nurses. Once my daughter was born it was impossible for me to survive off a teaching salary. Unfortunately there was no way to move up quickly in that environment and raises were a joke. So I found a new job.
When you find a new job there should always be a salary increase. If there isn’t then you should keep looking. My salary went up a modest amount. This new job was a temporary position so there was no commitment needed on either side. I worked there and began looking for a permanent position when the contract was approaching its end.
In August 2016 I started a permanent position and my salary went up again. Are you noticing a pattern? Now, sure this can be risky and plenty of people stay at a job for 10 years and wait patiently for their pay raise but that is not the way to quickly increase your salary. My aunt has always told me: “You never owe an employer anything. They are not committed to you and you never have to be committed to them.”
Shortly after landing this full-time permanent role, someone reached out to me about a new position that I considered my ultimate “dream job.” I took it and guess what…my salary went up again. Needless to say the dream job didn’t work out because it was an environment immersed with manipulation and bullying. I was the victim of bullying and had to quit on the spot to ensure my mental health was safe. A link to the full story on my bullying experience is at the end of this post.
Fortunately with all my work experience and skills I landed a new job right away. Throughout this experience my salary went up 35K in just 9 months. The simple answer: switch jobs frequently but just know that employers will ask you why you had short time periods at each job so be prepared to give them legitimate reasons.
I did and it worked!
Read about my bullying experience at the YMCA:
Written by Sterp
What if you quit your day job to pursue your passion, one that truly feeds your soul with Life?
Most of us settle on a traditional job that ensures a large amount of stability. Most of us strive to control our lives in every aspect and when something unexpected happens we scramble to make sense of it and get it back under control. Traditional jobs make us feel like we have our Life under control.
There are some people though, who choose to embrace the impermanence that Life offers and who laugh in the face of tradition and structure to accomplish what the rest of us are afraid of: making your passion into your career.
I had the pleasure of working with Michael "MytyMyke" Nguyen when he was still in a traditional work environment. I remember him mentioning his DJing gigs at work and like most people I thought it was just a hobby of his. I remember thinking how difficult it would be to pursue such a hobby as a career.
I found a new job elsewhere and fell out of touch with Mike. Then something interesting started to happen. I began seeing Mike's DJ name "MytyMyke" everywhere. He was playing all over the Bay Area. He quit traditional work and began DJing full-time.
He was living his dream. He did it.
Here is MytyMyke's inspirational story on how he made his passion into a career:
1. Did you always want to DJ? When did you develop this dream?
I've always wanted to DJ ever since I first heard DJs scratching on the radio and on CDs. I was first introduced to the culture in middle school.
2. Did any event in your life influence your decision to pursue DJing as a career?
I've always wanted to pursue DJing as a career. However - I never really thought of when I'd like to take that plunge. When I was laid-off from my day job, I decided the time was now.
3. Was there anyone in particular who supported your dream? A mentor?
My friend Cruz supported my dream. He would be someone I would talk about music with in between editing my promo videos. He too wanted to pursue music so we shared a common vision.
4. Describe the events leading up to you leaving your normal 9 to 5 job to pursue your dream.
I was working for a tech company in Sunnyvale up to December 2015. I really wanted to join the marketing team because that's what I believed I excelled in. I was called in one day and said they wouldn't be needing my services anymore. I packed up and the rest is history.
5. What are some challenges you have faced?
Some challenges I've faced is keeping busy with the bookings. Now that I'm full-time I want to maximize my time as much as possible.
6. How do you overcome those challenges?
I try and work on overcoming these challenges everyday but looking at other avenues where I can provide music. Nightclubs and bars aren't the only places where I can get paid to play music.
7. Did you get any criticism when quitting your traditional job to begin your career in DJing?
Yes, I definitely got criticism when they found out I was pursuing DJing full-time. Some people would say to get a real "job". What they do mean is to get a traditional one. However, who wants to work a job that they have no passion for; to build someone else's dream instead of yours? I chose to do something that makes me happy.
8. How did you come up with your DJ name?
Actually my 8th grade teacher who also was a DJ helped come up with my DJ name. We were just hanging out after school one day talking shop about DJing and music when he suddenly bursted out "you should be Mighty Mike". After that, the name just stuck.
9. Describe an unforgettable experience you have had as a DJ.
One unforgettable experience would be when I won the Electric Bounce House DJ Contest in 2014. It allowed me to open up at the SAP center in downtown San Jose for some of the biggest DJs in the world. I'll never forget the time I got to play on such a big sound system.
10. What keeps you motivated each day?
My love for the music and upcoming events keep me motivated each day. There's always so much good music out that I want to play it out. I also watch a lot of highly skilled DJs on youtube and Facebook for inspiration.
11. What's your advice to others who have big dreams but are afraid to make the leap?
No risk no reward. Go out while you're young and pursue that thing that makes you happy. Fears can be overcome. Do it now or regret it later.
12. How many spots have you DJed?
I honestly don't know how many spots I've DJed at. Hundreds of events throughout my 10+ years of DJing has brought me out as far as Playa del Carmen in Mexico.
13. What are some of your favorite venues to DJ?
One of my favorite venues to DJ at in the south bay would be Los Gatos Bar and Grill. The crowd always brings it with the energy. As for San Francisco, Temple Nightclub definitely was an unforgettable experience. I had the pleasure of playing the main room twice.
MytyMyke said it best: No risk no reward. Go out while you're young and pursue that thing that makes you happy.
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My Mantra: Strive to be the best me and improve a little every day. Be compassionate, especially to those who may not practice it. Continue to learn and love. Take a moment multiple times each day to breathe. Forgive myself and forgive others. Read books. Live what I preach. Accept others. And above all, laugh every single day. (P.S. I have an infatuation for horror and disturbing and dark true stories.)