LOS ANGELES—Since he was a boy, Michael Dvorak dreamed of one day earning $56,000 a year. Earlier this month, the law firm White & Case finally made that longtime dream come true, hiring Dvorak at just that salary.
"I am definitely one of the lucky few who wakes up every morning and gets to do something he loves: make $56,000 a year," Dvorak, 27, said Monday. " I can’t imagine making another amount of money, quite frankly."
"Hell, I’d make $56,000 for free," Dvorak added.
Dvorak attributed his dream salary to an understanding in his gut from an early age of exactly what kind of money he wanted to make, "then just going for it." This drive and determination, as well as Dvorak’s passion for what he earns, impresses those close to him, such as friend Amanda Burnsworth.
"I wish I loved my salary as much as Michael loves his," Burnsworth said. "He inspires me to go out and see if one day I can’t make $42,500. Maybe it’s crazy, but at least I’d be following my heart."
Dvorak admitted that there were plenty of bumps along the way. Even after spending four years and tens of thousands of dollars on a college degree, Dvorak was still unhappy and unfulfilled by the income bracket he wound up in, and that dream amount was still in his head. He jumped around from salary to salary, gaining valuable earning experience but never settling in any one income. In 2003, he even moved back to his hometown of Akron, OH to seek a pay that suited him.
"It wasn’t always easy," Dvorak said. "I certainly had my share of disappointing salaries. There were times when wondered if $56,000 was something I could attain, or if it was even what I really wanted. I guess it’s normal to question what you want to make for the rest of your life, but still, it’s embarrassing to admit that I once seriously considered $49,800."
But it was during his time in Akron that Dvorak was reminded of the importance of having an inspiring $56,000 in the first place. For more than 30 years, Dvorak’s father, Albert, who died last year, had continued to "plug away" at a salary he never truly liked, and had expressed his regret to his son.
"Dad’s income was secure, but boring and mind-numbing—the sad truth was, he never lived up to his earning potential," Dvorak said. "He told me that if he had to do it all over again, he would have listened to his heart and not made the salary his father wanted him to make."
Added Dvorak: "I see now that life is much too short not to earn the money you love."
The revelation prompted Dvorak to pack up his car and move to Los Angeles in pursuit of exactly what he wanted to gross every year. After a steady and encouraging climb up the earnings ladder, Dvorak applied for an entry-level position at White & Case.
"When he came in for the interview, I told him that new hires start out at $56,000, a fact that excited him very much," human resources supervisor and $72,000-a-year earner Ryan Mullaney said. "When I asked him where he saw himself in 10 years, he answered, ‘Making $56,000.’ Well, I hired him right on the spot."
When asked if he would ever consider switching gears and pursuing a different annual income, such as $62,750 or even $77,810.54, Dvorak responded with a firm "No way."
"I’m absolutely convinced that earning what you were meant to earn is the right thing, no matter what carrots they dangle in front of you," Dvorak said. "I was meant for $56,000."