In my university's internship system, students will be matched with employers through interviews, and students will receive offers contain salary information after being matched.

So I was matched with my employer for upcoming work term, yesterday the HR asked me what was my salary in my first work term, I told her it was $17 a hour. And to my surprise, I just received my official offer today, and the salary is exactly the same.

Some background: I did my first work term in first year, and I'm third year now going to do my third work term, the employers for my first work term and third work term are in same field, and I was tester for my first work term, will be developer for my third work term. Naturally, I was expecting a raise for my salary, but no, the salary is exactly the same.

So my question is, as a student, when my employer ask my salary for my previous work term, how should I properly respond? Also, should I and how do I communicate with them about salary when I'm already matched with them?

  • 1
    Are the companies in the same geographic area? You said that the HR rep asked you for the salary from your first work term - how much were you paid in your second work term (was it more or less than the $17/hr that you were paid in your first term and are being offered for your third term)? What did you do in your second work term - were you a developer, a tester, or something else? Commented Nov 10, 2015 at 20:57
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    Some companies have a standard rate for interns - especially short term interns - no matter how much experience the intern has, because usually short term interns only add a very limited amount of value if you deduct the money you spend on someone training them. (short term is less than 3 month in my book) Commented Nov 10, 2015 at 21:03
  • @Thomas Owens, the company is right beside the company for my first work term. For my second work term, I was a developer but in government, so I got a lower salary and she did not ask my salary about my second work term anyways.
    – SSilicon
    Commented Nov 10, 2015 at 21:06
  • @Sumyrda, it's four months internship, which is standard in my area(Canada Ottawa).
    – SSilicon
    Commented Nov 10, 2015 at 21:08
  • Also, do you have other options? Do you have any other pending offers? Worst case, what happens if this offer falls through? Will that impact your graduation schedule (is this a mandatory work term) or is this just additional experience and money? Commented Nov 10, 2015 at 21:11

2 Answers 2


I'd start with your university first to get more data. Find out if this is a competitive offer for your field of study, amount of experience, the industry, and the geographic area. At the same time, you should examine your budgets to determine if this is a reasonable salary for you - if you can pay any expenses and then have additional spending or saving money.

If this salary is not competitive or does not meet your expenses, then you can consider negotiation. You can use some or all of the data from the previous steps to outline why you feel you should be paid more. This should include your additional experience, the new position, and any kind of available data. However, you need to be prepared for a "no - that's the final offer" or, in worst case, the offer being rescinded. There are several questions here on The Workplace about salary negotiations - you should probably search for and read those first.

If the salary is competitive, I think you need to weigh the long-term effects of this experience. Your comments appear to indicate that having a work term will make it easier to get future work terms, especially at a comparable or higher salary. Working in your field is also experience that you get that pays off when you start looking for a full-time job. There may also be other opportunities for networking with other interns or full-time staff or the ability to learn new things above and beyond your day-to-day work that isn't measured in your hourly rate.

Ultimately, the decision is yours. But I do recommend trying to get a competitive rate, but also weighing the long-term and non-salary benefits of this experience.


If you answer at all, you need to answer truthfully. If they're offering you the same as you made before it certainly seems like they're just copying it, but that in no way obligates you to accept 17 an hour.

Communicate directly with the person who gave you the offer, they will have their own protocols to follow even if they may not have the authority to negotiate themselves, they will be able to direct you to the appropriate people.

Outline the changes you perceive in your worth due to additional skills and experience, the role itself, and specifically mention that you were expecting to get more pay than they're offering you and move forwards from there. There is not much point moving if you're not making more unless you will be acquiring a new skillset or there is some other over riding reason.

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