Good thread--I have mixed feelings about this, and I think about these things more often as I get older.
I'm at a company that owns a cluster of radio stations. I've been doing voice work, commercials, on-air, and just about everything else you can do in this place other than deliver the mail, for seven years. I love most aspects of the job, and radio is definitely the most fun thing I've ever done for cash...but it's never been very much
cash. I think my colleagues respect me, but I've never gotten a raise, my mentor/manager was let go last year, nobody knows who I am or cares anymore, and I'm in permanent part-time hell (no bennies). As the suits tirelessly explain, they'd like to reward me according to what I deserve, but their hands are tied. "It's not you, it's the budget," or lack thereof apparently.
On the other hand, when recognition occasionally comes, it feels really, really good. The program director of our youth/hip-hop station has been asking about me, apparently. "Who is that? I hear her on our commercials all the time. She's really good. Why do I never see her?"
A co-worker said I should go over and introduce myself (this PD works in another building). I'm considering doing that, although schmoozing has never been my strong suit. (Something to do with my permanent nonentity status? I dunno.) It made me feel warm and fuzzy that this important guy is noticing my work, strictly on its own merits. Now he's requesting that I voice more stuff for his station. It doesn't mean more money for me--I'm paid hourly at a miserable wage with no extra for commercials, until I can find an agent. But it just made it seem all worth it, suddenly, to have someone notice that I do all right at my job. It probably won't affect my status. They still have no budget. But getting that praise meant the world to me.
The rewards for this gig are not monetary, just emotional. But when they come, I realize I could never be happy working at the tool and die. Or even going back to computer support (better paying, but I hated it). It's about balance I guess...
As a side note, I just landed another part-time radio gig which commits me to about the same number of hours, but at double the pay rate. We're hoping to take the whole paycheck for this second gig and stash it away....we should be able to live on my husband's salary and my first part-time gig alone. (Not less, you ask? Hey, a girl needs a handbag every now and then.
Wish me luck!