Financial Literacy - 2015

Financial programs offered on investing and salary negotiations
April 16, 2015

April is Financial Literacy Month, and WPI is offering seminars today and Friday to help students plan their financial futures. The Financial Aid office is sponsoring a workshop today at 1 p.m. in Stratton Hall, Room 308. The one-hour program, “Investing: Planning Now for Future Success,” is specifically geared toward graduating seniors and graduate students, but all are welcome. Kristina Harris from Fidelity Investments will talk about planning for your financial post-college life. Lunch will be provided, and prizes will be raffled.

As of yesterday, 38 of the 54 available seats had been taken.

WPI’s Career Development Center offers a seminar on Friday, April 17, from noon to 2 p.m. at the RC 61 Meeting Room titled, “Start Smart Salary Negotiation for Women.” It’s offered by the American Association of University Women (AAUW), based in Washington, D.C. According to the AAUW, a year after graduation, women earn just 82 percent of what their male counterparts earn, with the wage gap just widening over the coming decade.

All the more reason women need to learn to negotiate salaries, says Michelle Cacciapaglia, one of the trained presenters and a career counselor at the campus Career Development Center.


The reasons people don’t negotiate their salary offers are varied, says Cacciapaglia, and the inclination not to negotiate is more prevalent in women. The phenomenon is part awareness, part socialization and part fear, she says.

Some job applicants, she says, just don’t realize that they can negotiate the salary they’re offered — they don’t see that the number after the dollar sign is up for discussion.

Michelle Cacciapaglia of the

Career Development Center

Another reason women don’t negotiate is due to the way they are socialized. “We’re taught to be polite and say thank you,” Cacciapaglia says. No one wants to appear pushy or demanding.

A fear may also be present, she says, as this particular generation has grown up with less-secure employment and more economic issues. “There may be a fear of, ‘What if I don’t get another offer?’ or ‘What will they think of me?’” among job applicants, she says.

Though WPI has always offered salary negotiation workshops, the Smart Start program is especially for women. Cacciapaglia points to a recent figure showing the wage gap for women will mean they earn $1 million less than men in the course of their career, making these kinds of information sessions even more crucial. Agreeing to a salary is a major consideration, she says, as many other things hinge on that number. “It’s such big decision,” she says. “All future earning, bonuses, salary increases, 401K matches … think about it and know everything is based on that.”


Looking at the total compensation package for a job offer is another skill that’s important for women to learn, says Cacciapaglia. Benchmarking a salary empowers a job applicant with information before they head into the interview.

“We try to connect people with accessing information on what is an expected salary within a certain geographic area. Another major thing is creating a personal budget, going through what are [your] expenses, estimating your minimum need, so you know what you can accept,” she says.

How benefits such as health insurance, future earnings, 401K matches and other considerations must also be carefully weighed, said Cacciapaglia, as everything is based on that. She encourages job seekers to take the time to evaluate all materials and insure all information has been made available before accepting a position.

“A lower salary with amazing benefits should still be considered,” she says, noting that salary alone doesn’t make up the entire offer. “If you’re paying very little for health insurance and there is a 401K match, that is free money,” and should all be factored into the candidate’s overall situation.