I'm currently in an internship for the end of my 3rd year in IT engineering studies.

As an intern, I was given a way bigger job than what was announced when I was recruited.

The original job was only to re-code a software, which would justify a really low salary, but in the end I have to recreate a whole project and make it approved by both QA and development team. Plus the software was a total mess no one understood anymore, requiring to analyse it all and document it all.

For those reason, I would like to renegotiate my salary, but as an intern I fear that I won't be taken seriously and won't be able to make my point.

It's legal to renegotiate a salary as an intern in my country, so the problem is not here, it's really about the status of intern which makes me think it would be way harder to negotiate anything, as it's already hard to bring new ideas even though they require me to ("We always did like that!").

How do you renegotiate your salary when you're just an intern?

Not a duplicate of How should I properly approach my boss if I'm feeling underpaid? since it's really more a "I'm an intern I won't be taken seriously" than a "I don't have any negotiation skills" issue, even though I'm not particularly good (more precisely I have no experience in negotiation), I saw some good advice on this very website.

  • 4
    You are an intern, even if its legal doesnt mean you should. Commented Jun 2, 2017 at 12:02
  • @RaoulMensink I feel what you're saying, there is a part of me who keeps thinking "Of course you're an intern you shouldn't negotiate", but there is still the other part thinking "I'm really not paid enough for this"
    – sh5164
    Commented Jun 2, 2017 at 12:03
  • why did you do this internship in the first place? I assume School but you never know for sure. Commented Jun 2, 2017 at 12:19
  • @RaoulMensink End of the 3rd year of IT engineering studies internship, yes.
    – sh5164
    Commented Jun 2, 2017 at 12:20
  • Could you add that as background info into your question? Commented Jun 2, 2017 at 12:22

4 Answers 4


Put simply, You Don't.

You are an intern, which by its very nature is temporary. You didn't specify whether you negotiated your salary to begin with, but in many cases an intern is paid a fixed stipend that is predetermined based on your experience level. You have already been budgeted for, and it's possible your manager doesn't even have the ability to give you a raise.

For any negotiation to work, you need to be willing to walk away if you don't get what you want. You're not likely to find another company to hire an intern for half a summer, so you would likely have to quit and lose the income entirely. Is that something you're okay with?

I say just stick it out for the rest of the internship and mark this as a lesson learned to make sure you understand your responsibilities before you take the job. The experience you gain in an internship is far more important than the pay, and this will give you a great opportunity to talk in the future about how you handled the additional responsibility on this project. If you decide to hire-on with this company after the internship, certainly renegotiate then, but not now.

  • No negotiation was done since the salary was reasonable for the announced job, but you may be right, maybe I should do that
    – sh5164
    Commented Jun 2, 2017 at 13:00
  • @sh5164 Internships are not a Job Commented Jun 8, 2017 at 13:42

As an intern, you have virtually no leverage to negotiate with. In most cases, an internship is basically an extended interview. You're there so they can see if you are someone they want to hire as a permanent employee. And if they can get some cheap extra labor out of it to push along some other project they haven't been able to do yet, that's just a nice bonus for them. Rarely is an intern given a critical project that absolutely has to be done. That's what the permanent employees are working on. You're temporary, so they aren't going to risk giving you something that will hurt if it isn't finished on time. If you decide to quit over the pay, worst case scenario for them is they have to extend your permanent job offer to someone else, and your project just goes back to the backlog where it came from.

Internships aren't about pay. They are about getting real-world experience and a chance to make a good impression on a prospective employer (while also giving you better insight into the company than you will ever get in an interview to decide if you even want to keep working there). You have an amazing opportunity here. Sounds like your project is going to be quite challenging, which means now you have a chance to really shine. Your best bet is to knuckle down, do the best you can on it, and learn as much as possible. Then, AFTER you have knocked it out of the park and exceeded all expectations of an intern, you can use that as leverage to negotiate a better salary when they extend you a full-time offer. Or take your hard-won experience to negotiate a better deal somewhere else. Or apply everything you learned on your own start-up. The choice is yours.


I had a similar situation happen in a previous role of mine as an intern. In my case I was hired with an intent to do small system maintenance things. I ended up developing a large integrations project. My boss came to me after the first few milestones and said he was very impressed with what I was doing and that it was above and beyond my initial job description. He told me I should negotiate a higher salary! I made a HUGE mistake and turned them down stating:

I'm only an intern...

Good managers recognize good work and while it may only be a temporary position, it is in their best interest to keep good employees around. This internship could ultimately lead to a full time position. Asking for a raise now will show that you know your worth and you're not afraid to go after getting it.

Speak now or forever be silent

  • Good reply, the only thing is as I'm creating my own startup on my free time I won't be looking for a full time job at this company, but still a good advice.
    – sh5164
    Commented Jun 2, 2017 at 12:28
  • Speak now or be forever silent. kuch Commented Jun 2, 2017 at 12:28

I was once an intern and exactly in the same situation as yours. I asked for an additional bonus (with my co-intern) at the end of our internship, and got it. It was the first time anyone had ever done that at this company, and it had no negative impact on my career (I ended up joining that company full time). The reason we asked for the bonus is that we worked incredibly hard (crazy hours, weekends, etc. as there were exceptional business circumstances that summer) and exceeded all expectations/tasks. If asked in the right way (it is critical to "ask" politely & constructively, and not "demand" it in an aggressive or entitled manner), smart employers will see the request as a positive attribute (i.e. you have grit, are a go getter, etc.). The worse that can happen, is that they tell you they don't have the money. If you don't ask, you don't get.

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