Compensation In Media Careers
Gabrielle: Yes, welcome to the bitter truth about doing something you love: oftentimes in the beginning, it doesn't pay. However, you do have some options to negotiate a better pay package, especially now when there is a demand for talent in every industry.
Obviously, how much leverage you have depends on your experience and what kind of job you are going for. If you are just out of college and want to work in entertainment, it is considered a rite of passage that you are going to have to live with ridiculously low wages. But that just refers to base pay. That doesn't mean you can't ask for some benefits that while they don't increase your base salary, make your life a lot easier. You could inquire about a lunch option - some places, like MTV, have a commissary that offers subsidized meals, so your lunches end up being a lot cheaper than if you had to buy them on the streets of New York. There could be the option for paid overtime or for free tickets to events.
You could also negotiate that part of your salary be contingent on your specific performance in accomplishing tasks. For example, if a main part of your job is executing a direct mail project in the marketing department, ask that your bonus be tied to the response rate that the project ultimately receives. Be creative in what you ask for - and don't forget to ask for it! It's up to you to push them into being flexible with you, but don't expect them to come to you with options. Do your homework and ask around, and see what other people get during the course of their jobs.
The main thing to remember is that larger companies often have very strict salary ranges (associated with titles) that they can't randomly break out of. So, while they won't really negotiate on the base salary, they can negotiate on these fringe things that often add quite a bit to your bottom line. By recognizing this, you can walk away with an overall package that makes that first job a little easier to swallow.