Firstly a little background, for the question, skip to the last line:
I have held an internship position at a mechanical engineering firm. I was placed into a department that mostly did very routine data entry. Within a few days I was picked up by a manager for skills in VBA, and moved on to developing VB.net quite rapidly, which is a skill I acquired whilst working there.
I am more than 6 months in and have now written a few applications by myself. These apps are my "hostage"; code that I know back to front, and nobody else in the company could understand. I should make it clear at this point, I haven't intentionally created confusing code, it's just that coding is not part of the company skills base. It's reasonably well commented and structured. A VB.net contractor could continue with it.
I am now going back to university. The company has just offered me work after my internship but at a staggeringly low rate to my mind (< $12/Hr). The contract is 3 months provisional at 10Hrs/Wk to fit around university.
I think they may not realize that the average pay grade is higher. Although they do seem to be aware that nobody internal can replace me.
I don't know if at this point I should point out that my code is "Hostage" and push for a higher salary. I've already said $12/Hr is not good enough, and that I want a minimum of $18/Hr, to which no eyebrows were raised or questions asked. I then told them I would figure out what I wanted and tell them later in the week, which again didn't seem to cause any trouble.
So what should I do here? The obvious options to me are:
- Squeeze them for a large amount (circa $50/Hr) on the grounds that they need me, but risk losing the contract or causing friction.
- Settle for somewhat higher (The $18/Hr I already mentioned).
- Try for some midpoint (about $25/Hr).
- Accept the $12/Hr (I won't do this, it's not worth my time).
So: How can I determine what I am worth, and how can I go about convincing them I'm worth my stated figure? I'm perfectly happy to walk away, since I have enough to live on at university anyway.
I am not about to walk into the bosses office and say "My code is hostage pay me more", I would be more likely to say "It would cost x amount to hire a proficient coder externally so I must be worth (x - n)"
I am aware I could be replaced externally, I'm not claiming to be amazing, just the best the company has to hand.