The typical market price for software engineering interns in my city is 22-25$/hour. In more tech-centered cities, I received referrals from current employees for positions that pay between 45-60$/hour, with 6k-9k housing stipends and addition perks.

Money isn't everything to me however and they are a few companies in my city I would like to work for despite having lesser perks. This being said, 30-35$/h is my ideal range which I believe is fair and better reflects my level of experience.

I realize that several companies have caps for intern salaries and my ideal range is potentially exceeding it, so I'm wondering what might be the best way to approach this topic with potential employers. For example, should I be upfront and mention my expectations at the interview stage, or wait for an offer and then negotiate? Should I bother to negotiate if my range exceed their caps or should I simply politely walk away? In sum, how should I approach this topic to better maximize my chances of success?

  • It's hard to negotiate when you are just an intern. But there is no harm in negotiating at final stage. Give it your best. Whether to walk away or accept it is your personal decision.
    – user47813
    Commented Jul 1, 2018 at 15:07
  • "Money isn't everything to me" you are going to have huge problems in your career, Mike :) While you're still starting out, adjust your attitude. The only reason you work is money. Note that for businesses on the other side of the equation, the >only< thing is money.
    – Fattie
    Commented Jul 1, 2018 at 16:18
  • 1
    @fattie programmers are strange people but I do my job also because I love it. Commented Jul 1, 2018 at 17:53

1 Answer 1


Don't talk about money upfront, discuss with them and see if your potential employeer has a good company culture. See if you "connect" and if you'd actually like working with them. When they also realize you would be a good fit, you can start negotiating. If they say something like 22-25$/hour but your minimum is, let's say 45$/hour, try with higher numbers and see how they react. If they won't be able to pay you this amount, they won't, but if they're trying to pay you less and realize they would be ok paying you more, they will call you back, or at least place a final offer. The important is that you are firm in what you say and don't turn around it too much, so that they understand you're not trying to get more than you deserve, but you have better opportunities already.

Please keep in mind also that if in another city they pay more it could very well be because the standard of living is higher, thus it will cost more to live there. Being paid more doesn't necessarily mean that your spending power stays the same. Another city, another reality.

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