My Shot: How Much Do You Make?
How much do you make? Once a taboo question, Hannah Williams (B’19) asked it openly and publicly on TikTok in order to transform the national conversation about salary.
From telemarketing to TikTok, Hannah Williams (B’19) has blazed a career following her gut and taking chances. Williams landed a telemarketing job after graduation across the river in Arlington, Virginia. After quickly learning sales wasn’t the right fit, she made her way to data analytics. “I didn’t want to do sales, so I thought let’s see if data is the right fit,” she said. “And sure enough, I ended up liking it.”
Williams found her footing in data analytics working for a small government contractor in Washington, D.C. While she was diving into her new career, she found herself talking more and more about salary. “As soon as I broke into data analytics, recruiters started reaching out to me on LinkedIn.” she said. “I was having conversations frequently about what my salary requirements were, but I didn’t know that you could really negotiate your salary then.” Williams soon accepted a senior data analyst position making $90,000, but through a little market research, Williams realized she was being underpaid by nearly $20,000.
“I should have been making six figures. That was a tough realization for me,” she said. “I thought I was figuring out my career only to find out I was still being generously underpaid because I didn’t know what the salary should have been.” With her new knowledge, Williams found a job that paid her what her research supported—but that experience stuck with her. “I thought, let me start talking about this on TikTok. I’m seeing more people talking about their careers and I’ve learned a lot, so let me share it,” she said. Williams went viral in a flash and garnered a supportive following on the platform.
With a captive audience and a relatable topic, Williams founded Salary Transparent Street in April 2022. She walked the streets of Georgetown asking people what they do and how much money they make. After the first few videos of Salary Transparent Street had millions of views, Williams knew she had a unique opportunity on her hands.
“It was just so groundbreaking that they were all going viral. We were immediately getting press requests from the Washington Post and BBC,” she said. “I was thinking—I may have this moment, and if I don’t go all in right now, that moment might pass me.”
Williams left her full-time job and took a shot on Salary Transparent Street. With over one million followers on TikTok, Williams has transformed the conversation about salary across the country. Originally starting on the streets of Georgetown, Salary Transparent Street will reach all 50 states by the end of 2023.
Although Williams started her career underpaid and uncertain, she has carved a path she only dreamed of as a student. “I was hugely involved with Georgetown Entrepreneurship, and it was my dream to have my own business and to be my own CEO,” she said. “When I graduated, that didn’t happen for me, but I never really gave up on the idea.”
By taking a chance, following the opportunities, and trusting herself, Williams has found success in more ways than one. “The work we do is actually helping people change their lives, make more money, and find careers that fulfill them and empower them,” she said. “I can’t ask for more impact than that. It’s a dream come true for me.”
Williams took advantage of every opportunity to learn and grow as she kept her eyes on her entrepreneurial aspirations. “When I was failing early in my career, I thought it was the end of the world—but I learned failure is something to be embraced,” she said. “Failure is the best place to be if you are looking to grow.”
This story was originally featured in the Georgetown Business Spring 2023 Magazine.