Back to Blog

Debunk that FirstGen Fear & Make More Money

Mar 22, 2022

Since we're talking "Career Money Moves" for all of March , I decided to poll the Instagram POP Tribe to see what insights first-gen professionals need right now.  Though I anticipated that most respondents would want tips on how to negotiate a salary or ask for a raise, most people said they wanted guidance on "How to Find a Higher Paying Job."  At first, I found this shocking because majority of the time when you apply externally, you're automatically going to make more money, sometimes even for a lateral move.  For perspective, I went from one entry level HR role to another, same industry, same state and increased my base by almost $20K and received a $5K sign-on.  Thus, the easiest way to find a higher paying job is to find an external job which seems logical.  Ahhh enter #firstgen fears!

One of the biggest limiting beliefs that firstgen professionals have is around their investment of time at a particular company.  Sometimes it’s because of cultural programming around “loyalty” but most of the time it’s FEAR that they won’t find a better job or one that pays more.  That fear comes from that survival mode instinct - your reptilian brain is saying, "that money you make is good enough; we're safe!" and when you think about changing your circumstance, it triggers those feelings of safety.  Red flag! Our brains are programmed to resist change, even if the long-term result is positive. Those instincts are then affirmed by first-gen pressures, narratives & guilt from our loved ones who in trying to protect us (cause of their own fears) say things like: 

"At least you have a secure job!"


"But you've been there for so long! Why would you want to start over?"

OR my personal Cuban fave:

"Nos sacrificamos para que tu no tuvieras que pasar trabajo!" We sacrificed so you wouldn't have to struggle."


If you were struggling, making a change for more money would actually be advantageous & your survival mode instinct would support that change.  It's when you're comfortable that the fear of change triggers you into paralyses.  The thing is, you can be good (and grateful for it) AND still want more money.  Not for greed's sake but rather to have the ability to build wealth & take care of that next generation; a privilege we didn't have as the firsts.

So let me debunk this first-gen fear that you can't find a higher paying job or that you'd be sacrificing your current comforts. Let's start with what’s actually stopping you from that HIGHER PAYING JOB: 

  1. The belief that you can’t - if you don't believe you're worth more than what you're being paid, how can you convince anyone else to pay you more? I've said this before - mindset is table stakes!  Here's a hack to help you shift your mindset - do some research through or any reputable calculator to see if you're within the range of pay for your education, years of experiences & location within your industry.  My hunch is you're probably underpaid and when you see the numbers, it'll light that needed fire in your belly to take action.  
  2. Lack of Investment - either in the form of time doing what will help you make the move OR dollars toward training, development or coaching that will increase your value. -spend at least 30mins of uninterrupted time daily on doing market research, evaluating your skills & experiences to see what’s possible, connecting with people that will help you, practicing how to convey your skills, taking a free webinar, going through a paid digital course or working with a career coach.  There are so many resources available to you, in so many different modalities; the only thing you need to do is prioritize an investment in yourself.  
  3. Guidance that co-signs your bias - STOP LISTENING TO YOUR FAMILY, FRIEND or PROFESSOR if they’re not an industry expert!  Look, we all do this in some form. We look for evidence that supports our way of thinking.  If you're on the fence about applying to external jobs and you talk about it with your friend who isn't in the job market or worse, your prima who had a bad experience doing it, you're just confirming your fears.  INSTEAD, lean into a mentor or connect with someone who works where you want to work to really learn what's possible.


As a result of the global pandemic, the Great Resignation and the talent shortage, it is an EMPLOYEE'S JOB MARKET!   There are over 11million job openings TODAY in the USA. If there was ever a time to go out there and get a higher paying job, IT IS NOW!  Don't let any fear paralyze you! Most of us who are first-gen are also women and/or people of color which means we're probably already underpaid. Can you afford to miss out on making more money? I know I can't and don't want to because Money Matters!  I'll leave you with this quote from Rachel Rodgers book, "We should all be millionaires" to bring the sentiment home:

"When you flourish into wealthy badassery, all humanity benefits. YOU WANT TO CHANGE THE WORLD? THEN YOU NEED A WHOLE LOTTA CHANGE."