IE 11 is not supported. For an optimal experience visit our site on another browser.

3 ways for millennials to 'Earn It'

Mika Brzezinski and Daniela Pierre-Bravo talk about their new book “Earn It! Know Your Value and Grow Your Career, in Your 20s and Beyond" on Jean Chatzky's podcast.
Know Your Value founder and "Morning Joe" co-host Mika Brzezinski, left, with Jean Chatzky, TODAY's financial editor.
Know Your Value founder and "Morning Joe" co-host Mika Brzezinski, left, with Jean Chatzky, TODAY's financial editor.Miller Hawkins

Women make 80 cents for every dollar a man makes in the U.S. — so when starting a career, how can young women ensure they’re earning what they’re worth?

It’s a question “Morning Joe” co-host Mika Brzezinski and Know Your Value millennial contributor Daniela Pierre-Bravo tackle in their recently-released book, “Earn It! Know Your Value and Grow Your Career, in Your 20s and Beyond.”

Personal finance expert Jean Chatzky, host of the podcast, “HerMoney,” recently sat down with Brzezinski and Pierre-Bravo to talk about their new book and simple ways for the newest members of the workforce to set themselves on a path for success.

Get your foot in the door

“I didn’t want the hiring manager to make any excuses not to call me back,” Pierre-Bravo told Chatzky, recalling the time she had lied on her resume to land a prestigious New York City internship.

After applying to countless internships, Pierre-Bravo got a call from a hiring manager at P. Diddy’s Bad Boy Entertainment media company. The only problem: she had mentioned on her resume that she was living in New York City, and the hiring manager asked her to come to an interview the very next day. Pierre-Bravo, originally from South America and undocumented, was actually living in Lima, Ohio, at the time and couldn’t just jump on a plane to get to New York. So, she got on a Greyhound bus, which made nine stops over 18 hours during the night, to arrive at New York's Port Authority, clean up and get to her interview.

“I thought this is the only way, this is my only chance,” she said. Luckily, she nailed the interview and got the internship for the summer before her final year in college.

Pierre-Bravo went on to receive Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA), land another internship with MTV Networks and gained enough experience to catch the attention of hiring managers at NBC Universal. She started working on “Late Night with Jimmy Fallon” and then as a booking producer for “Morning Joe” as well as contributing to Know Your Value.

Yes, it began with a little lie on her resume. But the takeaway, according to Pierre-Bravo, is that sometimes you just have to get your foot in the door to show potential employers your talent and drive.

Do what it takes

After Pierre-Bravo snagged her first internship, her focus shifted to doing whatever was needed to survive in New York City while spending the majority of her time as an unpaid intern. She also worked as a babysitter, pet sitter, dog walker and club promoter. “I was really making it anyway that I could just so I could get that experience that summer,” she said.

Beyond simply surviving, Pierre-Bravo also knew that she had to do whatever it took to stand out and get noticed on the job.

“In order to know your value, you do have to earn it first,” Brzezinski said. “That first, second, third and fourth job, you’re earning it every step of the way.”

“I’m 52, and I’m still earning it,” Brzezinski explained. “It never goes away, and that’s the dirty secret of this business and all others. It looks like you’ve made it and you can relax — you never can, so get rid of that thought.”

When working as a booking producer on “Morning Joe,” Pierre-Bravo’s job was challenging, involving early morning hours, a lot of travel and menial tasks like coffee runs, “but she did it with ruthless perfection and speed — and she got noticed to get that chance to do something she wanted to do,” Brzezinski said.

A big part of doing what it takes is being ambitious, explained Brzezinski. “Women have to get over ‘aggressive’ and ‘ambitious’ as being bad words,” she said.

Effectively communicate your value

“Part of getting to the next step is being able to earn it, but also advocating for yourself every day before getting to the negotiating table,” Pierre-Bravo said.

Her advice: Advocate for yourself in the small things you do by thinking about the value you bring forward every day. “It can be something like getting coffee and making it the perfect coffee that you can, but also waiting for your moment and that timing to get to the next step.”

Brzezinski added, “You’ve got to command respect when you walk in the room, and you can do that at the age of 25 or 45. You don’t have to be arrogant about it; you just have to be someone worth respecting.”

For millennials, it’s important to ask for more money. You’re going to do it wrong a lot of the time and it can be awkward, but it’s a big mistake not to ask for more money, Brzezinski said.

“Every time there’s an opportunity for me to make more money, I take it,” she said. “Sometimes it doesn’t work, but I’ll keep asking.”

“You have to learn to talk about money and develop the belief that you’re worth it, not just for yourself but for the people around you,” Brzezinski said.