Summit Panelists Share Tips On Negotiating Wages

By Renata Birkenbuel
The Montana Standard, Butte.

Women of all ages tuned in to fine-tune their work-place negotiating skills at the Pay Equity Summit Saturday at Montana Tech.

That included millennials like Jill Benson of Butte.

Even Benson’s charge-ahead, technology-savvy generation needs tips and encouragement for negotiating wages in the work place.

Millennials generally range in age from 18 to 30.

Benson, 26, fiscal officer for Headwaters RC&D, said the negotiating panel confirmed her fears about asking superiors for a salary that fairly reflects her experience and on-the-job worth:

“In previous job negotiations I felt that I had done something wrong by even bringing up the subject,” Benson told The Montana Standard on Saturday.

“As a young professional it was very encouraging to hear from the strong women of the summit that if you do the proper work, you are completely in the right asking for proper pay. It felt really good to hear.”

Benson is one of those rare talents who can work from both sides of her brain: the right-sided artistic side and the logical left-brained portion. She graduated from Montana State University in 2010 with a degree in studio arts, including printmaking and art history.

She doesn’t have a finance degree, but she remains undaunted. Like so many millennials who jump right into a project — win, lose or draw — she took charge of her career.

“I’ve always liked numbers, but art is my passion,” Benson said. “I didn’t want the pressure of trying to survive off art. Numbers come easily to me.”

She has worked at Headwaters for 10 months, where she’s learning leadership skills. After work, she and her sister Libby Coguill, 21, mentor the Girls Excelling in Math and Science, or GEMS, a Butte after-school club for girls in grades 5-8 who want to learn more about science, technology, engineering and math.

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