For me, getting a descent wage wasn't so easy. I bagged groceries for $3.35/hr for a short period of time, did other low wage part time jobs when people gave me a chance. Being a quite person doesn't help, employers buy who sells themselves the best, not the person with the most potential. On my part time minimum wage I put enough money aside to purchase a Taig Micro Lathe, my dad bought me a General 1" micrometer. I made all kinds of things, including a model steam engine, no plans, just memory from seeing one in an encyclopedia in high school a few years before.
So as I was finishing up courses required for my Associated degree in Electronics Technology, I got a job at a machine shop for $3.35/hr, same wage as burger flippers make. I figured I was getting not only a paycheck, but education and experience as well. After almost 2 years at the machine shop I was up to $4 per hour but was interested in something in electronics like I went to school for. Then I got a job in office machine repair, started at $4/hr. I was sent to Chicago for training and it involved electronics. I never could get the better paying industrial electrician jobs or anything. On the side for hobby, I taught myself "C" programming, Basic, Assembly Language, designed and build a stepper motor 3 axis circuit board drill, ran from a Commodore 64, interfaced an IBM PC to a school scoreboard and wrote the program to control it. The tough stuff was hobby, the day job was not much better than minimum wage.
After over 10 years of office machine repair, I got a job at a cookie factory as an industrial maintenance technician, $7.25/hr. production workers at other plants in the area made more than that. I always considered it valuable to take a low wage to gain experience, I felt there was nothing wrong with working my way up. The cookie factory liked me, I could make their machines run when no one else could, I was given raises twice as fast as they told me I would when I got the job. So at the cookie factory I went from $7.25/hr to over $9/hr in about 9 months. Other industrial maintenance jobs wanted people with PLC experience. The cookie factory didn't have PLC's. Most HR didn't realize that if I could teach myself "C" and Assembly language, Ladder logic wouldn't be that tough for me to learn.
I interviewed for a job, didn't get, I didn't know ladder logic, couldn't just look it up on the internet then. So I bought a book to learn PLC's, bought a broken Allen Bradley SLC100 with hand held programmer and self teach guide, and started learning relay ladder logic programming. Then I got an interview with an engineering company, the owner was the HR guy, he recognized that what I had taught myself was related to the industrial automation tasks he wanted someone to be able to do. So I started out at $400/wk salary exempt, through many projects and challenges, I was over double the salary within 2-1/2 to 3 years.
I currently have 7 years in engineering experience plus over 11 years as an industrial electrical technician. I've had a lathe and drill press since my teens and have owned mills too for around 15 years now.
I wasn't given an opportunity to develop most of my skills, I bought equipment to gain the skills that are in demand, I took low wage jobs to get the experience employers wanted. I did and learned much for no wage as hobby projects. Same for my CNC experience, bought or converted machines and taught myself, I've even written HPGL to G code converter programs in Basic.
Now burger flippers think fast food is a career opportunity, it's a job to put gas in the car while you gain some skills or get an education. Working in fast food is barely better than a paper route for most. I know there are managers and such that it is a career for, they should maker a livable wage, but for school kids that get an entry level job, it's just some money while preparing for a career.
If a person is worth the money, they should be able to find someone to pay it without being forced to by the government or a union. I paid my dues and gained the skills by investing my own time and money to educate myself. But as the ultimate hypocrisy, Mother Jones thinks minimum wage should be $15/hr while paying interns an equivalent of $6/hr.