Nasa engineer sparks debate about wages after being forced to look for part time job at Tiffany

‘My rent is high, I have student loans, I have car loans, and I like to thrift a lot,’ engineer says

Chelsea Ritschel
New York
Tuesday 23 November 2021 00:58
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A Nasa engineer has sparked a debate about wages and the costs of living in the US after revealing that she was in the process of applying to part-time jobs at Tiffany & Co and Apple.

Kelly, a TikTok user who lives in Houston, Texas, and goes by the username @sexybabypartygirl on TikTok, documented her interview experience with the jewellery brand on the app, where she began: “I am a Nasa engineer and I’m applying for a job at Tiffany, part time. And I have my interview in 40 minutes.”

Kelly then showed off the outfit she chose for the interview, which consisted of a simple black dress and black heels and which she said she hoped was “on-brand,” before explaining that the store location she applied to work for was in the Galleria mall in Houston.

After showing brief clips from inside Tiffany, the Nasa employee revealed that she had gotten the job as an “operations … person” and will be making $20 an hour, while noting in the caption that she also had an interview set up with the Apple store.

Kelly’s video, which has since been viewed more than 3.1m times, prompted an outpouring of confused responses from viewers, with many wondering why she has to get another job on top of her career at Nasa.

“Soo even Nasa doesn’t pay that well?” one person asked, while another said: “If someone who works at Nasa needs a second job I have no hope for my future.”

Someone else added: “A Nasa engineer needs a part-time retail job yet people are still not taking the wage crisis seriously.”

Others were surprised to find out how much Tiffany pays its employees, with another person writing: “They only pay $20 an hour [at Tiffany]?! Jeez we have such a wage problem in this country, it’s insane.”

In the comments, Kelly revealed that she was hoping to make more money so that she could visit her family in Wisconsin more frequently.

In a follow-up video, the Nasa engineer also addressed some of the comment she’d received from viewers, with Kelly beginning by explaining that she “likes” her job at Nasa and that employees get “paid well,” but that she “just wants a little more money”.

“I’m not looking for a new full-time job, but my rent is high, I have student loans, I have car loans, and I like to thrift a lot,” she explained.

Kelly then discussed the salary at Tiffany & Co, which she said she thinks is “really good for a part-time job in Texas,” before asking TikTok users what other part-time jobs would pay better.

The government employee concluded the video answering a question she’d received about her education, with Kelly revealing that she received a degree in chemical engineering from Wisconsin and she “would not recommend”.

The follow-up video was met with additional concerns from viewers, with one viewer claiming that “capitalism has failed us when a highly skilled highly educated person who helps us go to SPACE has to get a second job”.

Another person said: “I just looked at the pay scale for a Nasa engineer, are you freaking kidding me, that’s all you make???”

According to ZipRecruiter, the average annual pay for a Nasa engineer in Houston, Texas, is $87,880, while the nationwide average is $95,114.

“People don’t understand that government jobs pay government wages,” someone else wrote.

While many viewers were disturbed by the realisation that Kelly may need another job to afford her cost of living, there were also those who appreciated her attempt at “normalising” the idea of having to work two jobs to afford her lifestyle.

“Thank you so much for normalising this. Enjoy the new perks,” one person wrote.

In a follow-up video, Kelly revealed that she had declined the offer from Tiffany, while explaining in another video that she was offered her job at Nasa when she was 20 after applying to the company’s pathways intern program.

As for what she thinks the company looks for, Kelly, who admitted that her resume was “so bad,” said that Nasa wants to hire “well-rounded people” who have “good social skills” and are “decent” people.

“And, obviously intelligent,” she added. “That’s just a given at Nasa.”

She also explained that she thinks being a woman in engineering may have helped her secure her position at the government space agency.

In Kelly’s most recent video, she revealed that, after three interviews with Apple, she’d been offered the job of a technical specialist at a retail store.

“I’m super excited, they seem really nice and like cool people,” she said, adding that she would use an employee discount for Apple more than she would have for Tiffany.

Kelly concluded the video reiterating that she is not leaving her job at Nasa, and that she wants a part-time job for the money.

“I make enough money but I want to do more fun things and not have to worry about it, and also I have a lot of time right now so I don’t mind working a little more so I can spend more,” she said.

According to Glassdoor, a technical specialist for Apple in Texas makes $16 to $19 an hour.

The Independent has contacted Kelly for comment.

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