ICYMI, there was a bit of fuss over the weekend over a viral tweet about an Ateneo De Manila fresh grad who turned down a starting salary of PHP 37K. When asked for a reason, the applicant said they believe they deserved at least PHP60k, citing their Atenean background.
The story started an online debate, mostly with a lot of hate. Some say that the applicant is delusional, adding that kids today should learn to be humble. That they should appreciate ‘the grind’. Others cited it as pompous, saying that not everyone is fortunate enough to be offered the amount in the first place, especially in a pandemic.
But these arguments seem to forget one crucial thing: Everyone has a right to choose – and no one should be faulted for having the privilege to do so.
Privilege is not a sin
As someone who had a starting salary of 11k when I graduated in 2016, I nearly had a mini heart attack when I saw the tweet. A 37k payday for your first job? That’s insane. I could’ve easily fallen into the argument of ‘well, you gotta start small’. I certainly was the byproduct of the ‘grind until you get the salary you deserve’ mentality.
But I didn’t come from a Big 4 University. By definition, I was an average student, whose biggest accolades were pats on the back from a few professors. It’s no secret that those who are the opposite: the cum laudes, the org superstars, and those who bleed Maroon, Blue, Green, or Yellow have a certain privilege when it comes to job opportunities and salary negotiations.
But again, so what? Is it these graduates’ fault that their educational background comes with a few perks? Is it wrong that they can afford to skip ‘starting small’ and choose to ‘go big’ immediately? If ‘Getting a Leg-Up in Life’ was an app, I’m sure all of us would have downloaded it by now.
Besides, these graduates did their part to put themselves in a position where they’re privileged enough to be a bit choosy. Is it now a sin to reap the benefits of their hard work?
Everyone’s social background is different
Part of the backlash is influenced by societal changes. People are struggling to find jobs right now. Many are unemployed. And now, here comes a story of a person who turns down what practically equates to a blessing for countless others.
However, the reality is that not everyone is born with the same perspective. What if this individual can turn down a high-paying job because their parents can support them while they search for ‘better’ opportunities? Someone who can afford to reject a 37k salary is most likely not in dire need of money, nor are they breadwinners.
This brings us back to my original thought: Is it wrong to have privilege? Is the luxury to choose a hateful act? Or hasn’t it always been our goal to make a better tomorrow for our children, so they can have an easier life ahead of them? Or in this case, the freedom to negotiate what they perceive is their true value.
Besides, if things don’t work out for our anonymous applicant, and they’re forced to ‘settle’ for a lower salary, then consider it as a reality check. But until that happens, I find it hard to fault a person for simply aspiring for something better.