Tag Archives: college

Technology Internships: Paid or Unpaid?

I recently tweeted the following:

Devs/Designers: did you have a paid internship when you were in college? If so how much did you make? #howtechnologyinternshipspay

My goal was to get some perspective for a friend who was considering various options for his upcoming college career. He was hearing conflicting information on getting a paid internship while going through a Computer Science program and had only my own experiences to go by.

Once I started reviewing the results, I found very them interesting so I thought I would share with anyone who cares to know. Namely you: my friends and tweeple.

Now the facts. First, most of the responders interned at some point during the past 15 to 20 years. The range of pay during that time was between $8-$22 per hour with the majority falling between $12-$15 per hour. Of the those that responded who are currently interns or were interns between 2010-2011, the common range seems to be $15-$20 per hour.

It is also worthwhile to note that many respondents also received other perks that I did not attempt to monetize. Examples of perks range from free food to tuition assistance to free rent.

The reality of the situation seems to be that future technology interns should not be asking if you should take a paid or unpaid internship. The real question is: “How MUCH should you be paid?” I’m certainly not suggesting that you should avoid creating a class website for your professor or a quick shopping cart or inventory app for your mom’s side business for free. These experiences are good and valuable… I did many projects like this and learned a lot!

If you are looking for an internship doing software or web development in the current market what should you be looking for in terms of compensation? I would probably suggest you hold out for a minimum of $15 an hour. Also, consider asking prospective employers for additional benefits once it is clear that they want you on staff. These figures may vary from market to market. I highly recommend checking with your college or university’s career guidance counselors for the going local rates. Some schools even publish expected rates (eg. Waterloo in Ontario, Canada http://www.cecs.uwaterloo.ca/employers/salary.php ).

Whatever you decide to do, get out there and create some experience for yourselves! You will be more prepared for work in the field and have a much easier time finding it. Don’t be afraid to ask for compensation for your efforts. You are in a high demand field where your talents are needed. There is no time like the present to start paying off those student loans!

P.S. Much thanks to @shanselman and @mayhemstudios for the retweets! The exposure of my question was much broader thanks to you. Also thanks to @nshirazie for the link to Waterloo’s salary guide.