Real World events designed for the senior class include the Start Smart salary negotiation workshop and networking receptions like this one in the Hall of Presidents. Photo by Andrew Daddio

Real World events designed for the senior class include the $tart $mart salary negotiation workshop and networking receptions like this one in the Hall of Presidents. Photo by Andrew Daddio

Students are learning how to get even. In terms of salary negotiation, that is.

News, politics, and even Hollywood often discuss the wage gap — with actress Patricia Arquette’s recent Oscar acceptance speech, the topic has, once again, launched into national conversation.

Although the discussion about how exactly to close the wage gap persists, at Colgate, career services is helping the next generation entering the workforce have a better chance at bridging the divide.

Offered each semester, career services’ $tart $mart program provides students a chance to learn the ins and outs of negotiating a salary or compensation package in the professional world.

$tart $mart participants learn about the reality of the wage gap in the professional world, how to gather research about what an offer should look like, discover strategies for negotiating a salary, and become familiar with how to make a budget.

“We’re trying to teach students how to be confident in who they are, what they’re doing, and what they bring to the table,” said Teresa Olsen, director of operations and strategic planning for career services.

The workshop focuses on helping those most directly affected by the wage gap — namely, women and minority groups — learn how to negotiate for a salary reflective of the value of their work.

The American Association of University Women created The WAGE Project (Women Are Getting Even) to address gender inequality in professional compensation. WAGE started to work with universities to build programs and train facilitators to bring education and advocacy to college students. Career services, in concert with The Wage Project, brought $tart $mart to Colgate in fall 2013.

“We try to help students understand the [professional] landscape and look at it from what questions they should be asking and then also to tap into all their resources when they go into a salary negotiation,” said Olsen.

Aimed at helping upperclassmen prepare for life after Colgate, $tart $mart is part of career services’ Real World Series, which offers seniors opportunities to build and exercise professional skills and ease the transition from the classroom to the boardroom. Upcoming events in the Real World series include workshops on apartment-hunting and personal finance.

“I went in feeling like a blank slate and I left feeling like I was prepared,” Mallory Wagner ’15 said of her $tart $mart session. “I learned how to make a budget, and how to negotiate a salary in terms of how far to push boundaries and what is realistic for someone my age.”

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