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I am an intern at a small (~100 employees) software company in Europe. I am part of a team of 6 people (myself included) which develop the main logic that drives our product. One of the six team members works on a part time basis and remotely. More on this later.

I have been working for two months (out of a total of three months) and this is my first internship at a software company.

I spent the first 3 weeks getting used to the code base and implementing some practice applications. After that, I spent the next 3 weeks, (making up the first month and a half) assisting the team by writing up some unit tests. I received positive feedback from the team and also management.

Things started to change after the first 1.5 months.


The developer working part time and remotely, notified the team lead that he was not going to meet his deadline, 3 weeks before it was due. He had been working on a medium sized project for an important client for 5 months. At the beginning there was not a lot of pressure to deliver as long as he was on time. 5 months seemed like a lot at the start however, not so much anymore. The team lead notified me that I will be assisting the other developer to reach his deadline on time.

I enjoy challenges so I took this up immediately. I found it personally more interesting than the previous work I was doing, however twice as demanding. I was asked to work longer hours, and if need be during the weekends to reach the deadline. I had no problem with this when the other developer was also committed to finishing this own project.

For half a month (1.5-2) I worked super hard on the project, more so than the original developer on the project. His communication was lacking and GitHub pushes came very few and far between.

A week before the end of the second month, the developer with whom I was working on this project sent out an e-mail to everyone on the team stating he was resigning effective immediately. I will not go into specific details about the actual contract but what this means for me is that the team lead wants me to take over the project for this important client on a short deadline.


The project is far beyond my expertise and if we are to succeed I need to put in 80 hours/week for the next month. The team lead has already approached me to stay at this company instead of continuing my studies. Although said jokingly, I am sure he means it.

While I already made it clear that I want to continue my studies after the three months are up, I still want to do my best on this project.

However I am in a bit of dilemma. The work I am doing is far and beyond what any new intern usually does, however my wage is the same. As a student, every cent counts and so I would like to at least be paid appropriately to do such work.

The thing is I am still an intern and not an official junior developer. Should I go ahead and ask for a raise for the last month of work, keeping in mind that I am financially tight and a 'bonus' could help immensely.

Let me know if you need any clarification with regards to the timeline.


EDIT:

This is different from the question linked. Everyone knows I have only one month left so, a asking for a raise has different consequences in such a scenario. I am also an intern and only recently has there been such a shift in my work.

Thank you all for the suggestions!

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    Which country specifically? – Atizs Aug 28 at 6:56
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  • Yes, this is a paid internship with an hourly rate of €6/hr. – Rrz0 Aug 28 at 7:18
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    Do you get paid more for hours over 40 per week (or whatever a standard work week there is)? Here you would be paid 150% of your hourly wage for hours over 40, so you wouldn't have to negotiate a raise for the extra work. – Kat Aug 28 at 16:14
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    What are you aiming for? To maximize your salary for the last few weeks? Or to impress the managerment and perhaps return to that company as a junior developer later? – spickermann Aug 29 at 4:57
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Should I go ahead and ask for a raise for the last month of work?

I would suggest not to do it. There is not much time left for your internship, and it would not look good on your part to ask more money when the project is critical. Also, it seems to me that your initial 1.5 months were not stressful, so looks like this extra work has been coming your way for 2-3 weeks.

Rather, continue working normally and contribute as much as you can do for the remainder of the duration. If you can't do 80 hours, do the 40 you can. If you can't do 100 tasks, do the 10 you can.

Further, try to negotiate in parallel a full time offer for the future (once you've graduated). Given your peers are already impressed by your contributions, this should be easier option. Do not let it look like that you are holding the project to ransom for your gains.

In the grand scheme of things, the company and employees are expected to finish projects. Interns are there for learning things and make some meaningful contributions, but should not be responsible for owning delivery of critical projects.

As @mllemei suggests in comments below, do communicate with your manager about what you think you'll be able to do for the remaining month, what you won't be able to do, and keep him updated if this changes.

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    I would add to that : communicate with your manager about how much you can do. People leave all the time, a good company should be able to adapt without asking people to put in 80 hours a week (least of all underpaid interns), it's not your responsibility, don't put that pressure on yourself. But do communicate with your manager about what you think you'll be able to do for the remaining month, what you won't be able to do, and keep him updated if this changes. – MlleMei Aug 28 at 14:25
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    Avoid asking for a raise after only 3 months. You're better off doing exceptional work by finshing the project and saving the day. That way they can provide a stellar recommendation. If you ask for a raise and someone asks for a reference, they'll say "he was good, but wanted more money as soon as he felt valuable". – TomEberhard Aug 28 at 17:44
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    Exactly. Turning this into a job offer after graduation is infinitely more beneficial than a raise that impacts one or two paychecks at most. – bta Aug 28 at 18:07
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    +1 Make the most of your time there but don't kill yourself with hours and try to learn new stuff to enhance your resume. – Alex L Aug 28 at 18:29
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    Taking over this project single-handedly for no consideration would do this intern a great disservice. Some considerations must be negotiated -- a great reference, pay for hours > 40, and/or the possibility of a (part-time or full-time) ongoing role. Some or all of these should be available. Additionally & very importantly, the intern should not bear all the risk -- the company needs to have some responsibility for the success or failure of their project, not the intern lose everything & get blamed if their heroic effort falls short. – Thomas W Aug 29 at 2:22
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I have been working for two months (out of a total of three months)

Do you have an actual assignment you have to complete and present at school, or do you just have to work in a company for 3 months? This is important. If you have to present an assignment, make sure you finish that, no matter what else is going on in the company.

The project is far beyond my expertise and if we are to succeed I need to put in 80 hours/week for the next month. The team lead has already approached me to stay at this company instead of continuing my study. Although said jokingly, I am sure he means it.

Leaving your study might hurt you in the long term. If you do this, make sure you get a really sweet deal out of it. Furthermore, do not let them milk yourself for free. If you put 80 hrs/week, make sure you get compensated for it. Tell them you can pick up part time job from them, and do the extra 40 hrs there, for an actual rate, not internship salary. Naming particular country would help, but I am willing to bet your compensation is below 500€ per month?

Do not ask for a raise, ask for a part-time job. If they do not want to agree, they are just squeezing life out of you because you are intern. You don't have to put in 80 hours per week to prove something, this is not USA. As a software developer, at least in western part, finding a job is easy. If you are good, you will have really many choices.

Your well being comes first and only then what the company wants.

  • No assignment. Working to gain experience, learn and contribute. Compensation is at €6/hr. – Rrz0 Aug 28 at 7:16
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    @Rrz0 Your compensation for internship is actually quite a bit above minimum wage in Malta. That is good. That being said, I still think telling them you will take a part time job to complete extra hours is reasonable. – Atizs Aug 28 at 7:41
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    "You don't have to put in 80 hours a week to prove something, this is not USA" - I would argue (and I believe most would agree) that no job in the USA - or anywhere, really - is worth having to put in 80 hours a week, especially if the title is that of an intern. – osuka_ Aug 28 at 15:47
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    @osuka_ There's a difference between putting in 80 hours a week for a relatively short period and working 80 hours a week as a matter of course. There's also a difference between choosing to put in that much time and having that much time required from the company. I do, however, completely agree that companies should not be demanding 80 hour weeks from interns. Admittedly, a major component of that is something is rather wrong with your company if you are depending on interns. – Derek Elkins Aug 29 at 10:51
  • @DerekElkins, even working 80hrs a week for a short time, the people working that should get paid for it. Too often, people aren't, as they are "salary", which some people think means you work until you die, then get paid your regular rate. Even in the USA, that's not true, except for specific cases and I don't agree those specific cases should be exceptions. – computercarguy Aug 29 at 21:03
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While asking for a raise could be received badly, that entirely makes sense here; the main problem is that your internship ends in about one month.

What I suggest you is to talk to your manager / team leader and put on the table some important points, for example you can explain that you will have to work twice as much as your classmate for the same salary, that for this reason you will probably be late on courses for the next semester, that you might start bad the next semester as you will be very exhausted, that is may have a bad impact on your social life / family relationship and most importantly: you are NOT responsible of what's happening now, it is NOT your fault if the project is going bad and that you are READY to give your best but a compensation would be welcomed!

I have also done a few internships in software engineering in Europe during my studies, and most of the time the employer is just considering you as a junior developer; they invest basically no time / money to train, they just want a less effective developer (let's say 2 times less effective) for a 6 times lower salary.

(And just in case he accepts you to give a raise, as the deadline is short, don't start to work 12h daily until you have a signed contract, if they make things going slow, it means they will never give you the raise, they can make a new contract in a few hours, keep that in mind.)

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    "you are NOT responsible of what's happening now, it is NOT your fault if the project is going bad and that you are READY to give your best but a compensation would be welcomed!" exactly this. Do not feel responsible for something which should be another persons responsibility. This seems a lot like they are trying to squeeze you as much as they can. – Ege Bayrak Aug 28 at 23:41
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    Exactly, that's pretty sad and that's what I explained in the third part, in IT internships are just way underpaid jobs (in some countries even unpaid) where they have no intention to train you but will expect you to be as productive as an engineer. – user108322 Aug 29 at 7:31
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A real employee should certainly expect a real employee salary for doing that kind of work. So it seems like you think you ought to get something like that not for your own financial gain, but out of principle. I can sort of see that argument.

However, the primary goal for an internship is not supposed to be the money, but rather to give you good industry experience that will help you land a good job on graduation.

So why not lay out that case you laid out here, and then ask for something that will help with your future applications? Negotiate yourself a recommendation letter (handed over to you), that explains in detail the incredible (for an intern) job you stepped up to do. You can hand copies of it out at interviews along with your resume. I'd imagine that would make your applications really stand out among all the other recent college grads.

  • Good idea to ask for a recommendation letter. Thanks for the advice, will do so. – Rrz0 Aug 29 at 6:38
  • Not getting paid well for an internship, not to mention not getting paid, is bad for a persons future. Also (I can't remember where I read it), but the lower someone is paid for an internship, the lower they expect to get paid for the rest of their career. Great for the employer, but bad for the employee. genfkd.org/… – computercarguy Aug 29 at 21:11
  • This kind of answer encourage unscrupulous employer to keep these bad practices going (oh yeeaaah, why hiring an employe 4k per month when I can pay an intern 200$ a month + a recommandation letter). I got the idea that did not sound too bad in my opinion at the beginning but once I thought about it, I think that's a bad point. – user108322 Aug 30 at 9:23
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You should do it.

The best way to approach it would be to go to your boss, and say something along the lines of:

I was considering taking on the project, and I think I can do it if I try very hard and put a lots of work and overtime. However since the work is way above that of an intern, I'd like to get paid for that month as a contractor would, including the overtime bonus.

Then optionally:

While I plan to continue the studies, I'd be happy to work part time for your company after I return to school, and I'd seriously consider joining your company full time after I finish my studies.

You have nothing to loose for asking to be paid for the work you're going to do. You'd do yourself a great disservice to work for 80h a weak, for a project and get paid pennies for it.

  • 1
    While working 80hr/day is rather difficult, I get your point and thanks for the suggestion! :) – Rrz0 Aug 29 at 6:38

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