I recently started an internship at a pretty large company, however, I've recently learned that I'm making substantially less than my co-interns. I make around $14 an hour, whereas my co-interns make $26 an hour. This isn't just bad luck for me, they're going into their 4th year of college whereas I am just starting college. Although you might say "Well that makes sense, you have less experience", we are on the same exact team, doing the same work. Sure, I might have a few more questions than the average intern, but if you compared the work I get done vs another intern it's pretty much the same.

A few questions:

  1. Is it normal for me to be paid substantially less? ($12 p/h is a lot)
  2. Is there anything I can do now to perhaps boost my salary? (Probably not, I accepted their offer of $14 p/h)
  3. For future reference, if I know that I'm low-balled in a future-internship offer, is it OK to negotiate the salary? (i.e tell them that I know the average intern gets paid more, so I expect more)



Your “years” make a difference. As you are pre-graduation it makes sense as they have 3 years on you. When looking at future ones though frame it as actual experience in the field of internship and not just generic schooling. If you have one year of actual experience and two years of school it might look better than just school comparison.

Remember that all interns are considered learners and high risk to the company as they are paying without proof at you being able to do the job. The more you have proof at your capabilities to deliver the more negotiating is possible.

Also, you might want to be sure they don’t have hard intern requirement to pay scale rules. If they have those there is no point trying to negotiate as you will only fall in a pre-determined bucket.

Good Luck

  • 1
    This answer makes a lot of sense. I think it's worth noting, under "the more you have proof...", that if you go for a return internship with a very positive performance review, you might be able to get a higher salary. They know you, they know your work is good. (That being said, it's an internship - the company is going out of their way to host you. Don't push your luck too hard.) – user8712 Jun 28 '18 at 4:56
  • also a large company probably has a set hourly rate for interns base on which year hey are at Uni – Neuromancer Jun 30 '18 at 23:28

While you're on the same team doing the same work(are you really though, the exact same work?), you're NOT the same people(character,work ethic,team mentality,aptitudes - you catch my drift) with the same qualifications(you being junior).

1. Yes, it is perfectly normal to get paid very differently to your colleagues.

2. You just recently agreed to the salary.Tough luck. It is more professional if you grow a little, show your worth and possibly ask in a few months for a raise unless you have unforeseen personal circumstances like a baby on its way, an ill relative to take care of, higher commuting costs etc. You may ask for a raise but I doubt they'll agree.

3. Wage negotiations are influenced by multiple variables on both sides. The market price for a position certainly being one of them. Do your homework on what you want to and can expect before(!) you start negotiations.

..and yes, pretty much what Cronax an mutt said

  • Yes, I am doing the exact same work. The interns I am talking about are on the exact same team/project as I am, and we get our assignments from the same pool. – Bill Richard Jun 28 '18 at 23:23
  • @BillRichard Individuals (even of comparable seniority) will never deliver the same work. Even similar tasks will always yield results different to a degree. That alone negates full(!) equity in salary. I negotiated higher and lower pays depending on my necessities or leisure. If ones' own expectations fluctuate how could it be different for other people and companies depending on individual negotiations at different points in time and need?It's OK to aim for similar payments as a sense of fairness.One might ask and even get it(or not).It's smug,entitled and unrealistic to presuppose it. – DigitalBlade969 Jun 29 '18 at 0:32

As a professional, never look at someone else's salary and go "I deserve that".

Life is not 'fair', at least not in that way. There can be a million reasons why someone else makes more than you do. In the end it usually comes down to them having some form of extra value that you don't have, or them simply doing better during salary negotiations. Looking at what someone else makes and comparing yourself to them with your limited knowledge is a recipe for disappointment.

That doesn't mean that the information is useless. If you know that someone else in your role or a similar role receives a higher salary, this means that if you start salary negotiations, there's most likely room for your salary to grow. As usual in salary negotiations, don't make comparisons to others but speak to your own merits. Highlight the value you bring to the company. Explain why you're worth the extra money. Aim a bit higher than where you think you can realistically end up so that there's room for your employer to negotiate you down.

This last part is important: be realistic. No matter how underpaid you are, practically no employer is going to double what you earn. Excepting exceedingly rare cases, you'll have to change jobs for such a dramatic salary increase. To my knowledge, general wisdom is that you can generally negotiate a 10-20% raise without hard feelings. You can't realistically ask for more than a 20-25% increase without looking greedy.

In the case in the OP, this is slightly less relevant, but normally make sure you do your research of the market for your field beforehand, so that you know the general bounds of the salaries people in your role make. If a colleague in the same role makes dramatically more than the upper bound of the industry average that you find during your research, don't assume you'll be able to negotiate the same amount: it means they're probably adding some form of unique value that others in the role do not.

It's important to be realistic because if you ask for too much, you risk coming across as greedy which will make your negotiations that much harder. Only do this if you're willing to leave/get fired over the salary increase. If your manager feels like you put one over on him during the negotiations, this will cause you problems later.

  • That is a negative approach it should be "I deserve more than that" – Neuromancer Jun 30 '18 at 23:29

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