Negotiating Internship Offers

Typically internship salary offers are not up for negotiation.  Funding for internship salaries usually comes from a completely different budget pool than full-time salaries and are fixed making it very difficult for companies to provide salary adjustments for interns.   With that said, companies do not use an internship salary/full-time salary formula when making offers. Graduate level salaries are evaluated in a much different manner.

How does a potential intern know if their offered salary may be up for negotiation?  Here are some tips when evaluating your internship offer:

1.  Is the internship part of a formal and established program?  For companies with formal internship programs, interns are almost always brought into the company receiving equal pay packages.

2. Has a bonus, relocation allocation or living stipend been attached?  Be sure to consider any additional benefits when reviewing your internship offer.  If a company is providing you living expenses or a company apartment for the summer, remember that these funds are a part of your salary/benefit package.  Some companies may offer a smaller salary if living expenses are provided.

3.  Was the selection process for the internship highly competitive?  If you were among thousands of candidates experiencing multiple interviews, it is extremely unlikely that you have any foundation for negotiating your internship offer.

4.  What is the opportunity itself?  If you are seeking to intern with a smaller company, a start-up business, or a “foot in the door” industry, such as sports, make sure that your salary expectation and the opportunity itself are comparable.

5.   Is the salary a good offer?  This may be the most important point of all to consider.   If the internship provides an opportunity for a full-time offer in your chosen field and industry, focus on the long term opportunity rather than the short term gain.

Internships are meant to provide you and a prospective employer an opportunity to evaluate each other for a future partnership.  Be careful not to focus on salary when a long term career opportunity is being considered.




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