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Asks For a Raise, Gets Fired – A Berliner Memoir

I started working in December for a tea company in Berlin where I was hired on a freelance position to do the marketing and the photography for website content.  This later turned into more work than I had agreed to and by the end I was making graphic designs and logos, planning photoshoots, and recording video content for the website. I was originally so happy that I was finally doing one of my dream jobs; I was living the life of a young 20-something creative.  We agreed on a certain amount of work I should do and the amount that I should get paid for that work.

As the weeks progressed, the amount of work that was originally agreed on increased. I didn’t know what to say, so I did it, hoping that it will show my initiative to want more responsibilities and an opportunity for a full-time job within the company.

I was baited with the idea that ‘we will definitely have a bigger budget in the future, and employ you full-time’.

But as the months went by I saw myself working longer hours for the same shitty wage. I loved doing this work, because creating art is something I am passionate about, but I also hate being broke so I decided to say something. The part time job that I originally signed up for was turning into a full time position; I was working nearly 30 hours a week by now.

After a few months the time was right and I wrote up a very professional email. I mentioned that I have been given more work than what was originally agreed on and how I would love to do all of it, but it goes above the agreed amount assigned to me. I politely asked for a raise then wrote a breakdown of how much each different task would cost me to do.

A day goes by and I hear nothing. Then another day, and then finally, late at night, I received an email.

My (ex)boss replies and says that because I asked for a raise, it shows that I was ungrateful and not on the same page as the company. He then went on to say he was shocked that I would ask for a raise because I should be happy that I even have a job. And fired me.

I was unemployed, and not just unemployed, but fired. I spoke to my friends about this, and found they also had horrible stories about how their hopes of getting a raise led to their expulsion from the company. I learned that I should never do more work than agreed in the beginning, regardless of how much I want to prove to them that I am hard working.

Living in Berlin can be hard because a lot of start-ups are low on budget and always wanting to give you more work than they will pay you for. Berlin is supposed to be poor but sexy but I need to pay rent and eat food, and work should pay for that. It is difficult to balance financial stability and creative fulfillment and this is exacerbated by the fear that your last measly paycheck is the last bit of money will be all you see for a while.

By Lynette Luna

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