Salaries: what you need to know that no-one tells you

Our columnist Matthew Reeves on what he's learnt about salaries from his own somewhat unusual experiences

I remember landing my first salary, as an intern for an accountancy firm in the summer of my third year of university and, by gosh, was it exciting.

£22,500 EACH year. Each and every year I remained an intern. I didn't care that ten weeks was only 19 per cent of the year as there was - and this really was the selling point - the likelihood of a job offer at the end! I'd only have to live with the peasants for one more year after completion before earning a Kanye West level pounds.

2,250,000 pence, or £22.5k - however you looked at it, they were practically pouring cash into my little intern pockets. I'd have to get reinforced, Louis Vuitton pockets. Even if Louis Vuitton doesn't make pockets, I'd could commission him/her to do so!

Compared to my peers who were left in factories or supervising a supermarket to make sure it didn't wander off, remunerated for each hour they worked, I might as well have been the heir to oil sands. I'm sorry folks, there's just no room for B players in my world!

And then the work started. My journey was only 20 minutes on the train, but at rush hour with a young persons railcard, I learnt what a commute really meant. And a long, boring working day. And a horrible suit. As my interest in a career here waned, my bulletproof Range Rover fund was vanishing before my eyes.

My period of mourning was barely over when I had to face the reports of how my fellow interns had done over the summer. One of these irked me in particular. $30,000 in a graduate job to KATIE?! She transferred from a course in HR. How on earth did she pull that off?

As a man who tries his best not to become prisoner to the concept of fairness, something wasn't right. There was a great injustice the free market hadn't corrected.

But it turned out her one-year dalliance into learning about hiring and firing had taught her the valuable lesson of salary bargaining. She knew that a quoted salary was just one of many bargaining chips on the table.

I'd never considered that what might seem like a large salary isn't a lot of money for a huge goliath to pay for an excellent candidate. I'd never considered that really talented HR professionals know this better than anyone. Katie was a hustler, and I was the hustled. I could have filled her new Louis Vuitton bag with tears.

So never forget that haggling for for more pay can be an option - your potential new employer isn't the only one with something exciting to offer.

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