I'm a high-school student in Michigan who works for a nonprofit which provides education for minors. Since the beginning, around ten years ago, the main two positions of nearly everyone at the nonprofit has been Lead and Assistant instructor. There is a large gap in pay and responsibility between these two positions.

Recently, the administration has gone through major changes, and the new manager (the only person who works in administration), has been continually and knowingly giving me the responsibilities that are supposed to be for Leads.

When the manager first started doing this, they said that it was because of the administrative changes, and that they were extremely busy, and that responsibilities were only temporary. However, its been a couple months, and its now clear that these responsibilities are not temporary. Since in the past, I have been payed less than other people doing the same job, this feels like the company is exploiting my age in order to pay me less.

If I were paid what other people in the same position as me were payed, my salary would be roughly 50% higher. I understand that it may not be an option to receive this salary, so is there a way I could make it clear to my manager that I'm not going to continue to do work for far less than normal pay, without sounding disrespectful or unappreciative?

  • 1
    Not yet. I'm asking this question about how I would go about discussing this with my boss.
    – John Smith
    Oct 26, 2018 at 18:05
  • 3
    Possible duplicate of How should I properly approach my boss if I'm feeling underpaid?
    – gnat
    Oct 26, 2018 at 18:16
  • 2
    Not a duplicate because my goal here is not necessarily to be paid more (although that would be preferred)
    – John Smith
    Oct 26, 2018 at 18:24
  • Are the additional responsibilities a problem for you? Or just that you find them somewhat onerous and would like to go back to your old (presumably easier) job if not paid for the added responsibility? Oct 26, 2018 at 22:48
  • It is ironic that the non-profit is for education of minors and yet I assume you are a minor right? That said, they could justify it because you don't have your high school diploma, etc... The way I would approach this is to go to the administrator and ask if he would be willing to consider placing you in a "Lead-In-Training" position. It could justify a small pay bump without making existing leads feel that they are being displaced by a "young upstart" (their words, not mine).
    – Phil M
    Oct 26, 2018 at 23:39

3 Answers 3


You are a high school student working for a non-profit. Both of these limit you negotiating power. Non-profits are often strapped for cash and have to cut corners. And employees often accept they are getting lower pay in exchange for feeling that they are doing good in the world. Meanwhile, high school students tend to not have much experience or job skills, giving them little market value. So if you're trying to negotiate for higher pay, you are unlikely to be successful unless you are an outstanding employee.

If your position were simply that the job has too much responsibility, then that would be an easier position to articulate. But you seem to be saying that you are quite willing to take on the responsibility, you just want more money to do so, and that is a more problematic position. If you can identify ways that you are harmed by the responsibilities (less time or mental energy to spend on schoolwork, for instance), then it is valid to go to your supervisor and say that you should be compensated for those factors. But if you were okay with your lower pay in the other position, and the only reason for wanting to be paid more is because other people are getting paid more, that's a more difficult position to argue.

How to approach this depends on what you want: do you want to have fewer responsibilities? Do you want more money? Would you rather quit that continue in a situation toy find unfair? Your question is worded as being the latter, so for that, you should go to your manager and say "I understand that you are doing the best with what you have, but I feel that my responsibilities are similar to those of people being paid considerably more, and I'm not comfortable working like this." Try to focus on your feelings; rather than saying "Your pay structure is unfair", say "I feel uncomfortable with the pay structure".


Forgot about the salary in your position, pick up the experience from these new responsibilities, add them to your resume, and use them to find a better job (you'll make more long term), the key is not to stay longer than you need to.

Or if you feel you have the experience, find another job, get an offer and see if your current employer will match it.


I'm not sure exactly what you are after.

The options that have been laid out are: ask for more money, ask for less responsibility, or find another job. I think there's another option. If you like working at this place, and a raise is not an option, perhaps you can get something else out of it? Obviously, experience is one, but also, could you get a better title to beef up your resume, even if it doesn't come with a raise?

Either way, like others said, you should definitely talk to your boss about this. Lay out the facts, that you are performing Lead responsibilities, but aren't getting paid as a Lead, and that you aren't comfortable with that situation. Maybe ask the boss what he/she thinks should be done to make it more fair.

Good luck!

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