What you can afford on an intern salary

August 31, 2006

The story doesn’t say if Lucy Gao’s internship at CitiGroup is paid or not, but her email invitation to her 21st birthday party at the Ritz Hotel of London is worth a read.

I have arranged the Ritz to host a Champagne Reception with a selection of Ritz Champagne for all my guests, this will be on me so please come and indulge.

A specially made birthday cake has also been ordered and the Ritz waiters will kindly serve you each a generous slice with Ritz cutleries, etc…also on me.

Also consider among the privilege few who access internships the crown prince of Sweden who is coming to Washington to intern for the National Geographic.


It pays to pay

August 17, 2006

More than a year ago, Tannette Johnson-Elie was stating in the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel (Paid internships level playing field for minorities, May 2005) what is common wisdom in the job market, but that somehow doesn’t get traction in the internship world: better pay often means better staff. Employers pay the price of refusing to pay their staff: they don’t access the whole pool and they miss on students who will first take a paid position.

Tannette Johnson-Elie brings up an interesting statistic that I’m up to research yet:

Martha Artiles, chief diversity officer for Manpower Inc., said the notion of paying interns has been a growing trend in the last 10 to 15 years, especially among Fortune 500 companies.

And one more:

Last year, major employers reported that 38% of their interns went on to full-time positions, up from 25% in 2001, according to a survey by the National Association of Colleges and Employers.

So if internships are the golden bridge to employment, why should it be accessible only to those who can afford to live for months without a revenue?

Stop the press: interns are having a drink!

August 15, 2006

The Washington Post is taking internships very seriously: they have an article about them almot every single day of the week. I keep for later an in-depth review of their First Jobs & Internships Guide, but the iron is hot for their article “At Workday’s End, Interns Turn On the Schmooze” (August 13th, 2006).

It’s not a very interesting read and it casts interns in a unfavourable light as if they were show-off and desperate for prestige and networking in a different way from other graduates and young professionals. The fact is: they are different only because they are not paid for their work. What can you expect if the only salary you offer them is the opportunity to network? Sure, they will. Some of it sounds a bit sad, but I’m not sure the basic concept deserves mockery.


  • Rusty at Why I hate DC makes some funny points, but fails to recognize that  going out in bars and networking is not a specific intern activity.
  • Alec Brandon at the Chicago Maroons blog proclaims: “So glad I am not a DC intern
  • Even Wonkette deigns to refer to the article.
  • A village idiot notices that most of them are white. I’d be more curious to have a socioeconomic profile to see how many come from privileged backgrounds, which is a fundamental flaw of unpaid jobs.
  • Martin Austeruhle at DCist, Johnny Shades at Cafe 227, and Matthew Igelsias are probably asking the right question: what’s news about this article? Unfair internships, congressmen potentially violating the law by not paying their staff and the Post announces that these youngsters hang out in pubs after work?

Google Trends: Internships/Internship

August 14, 2006

Let’s have a look at the Google trends related to “internships/internship” searches.

  • Washington DC is where the search is most popular. Not quite a surprise, except maybe that it’s people from DC who are looking for internships. Does it mean that DC internships do not attract so many out-of-district students?
  • Cambridge comes second for “internships” and first for “internship”.* It may be because of the concentration of students (Harvard and MIT), but it may also be a sign that the privileged are most active in looking for an internship. Or maybe it’s the most resourceful and ambitious.
  • There are less searches during the summer, while there are more news about internships. It’s probably a sign that students plan their internships in advance – much in advance actually since January and February are the months where tehere are the most “internships” searches.

* The city ranking of Google Trends does not appear reliable : it yields different results according that you specifically ask for a comparison or that you search separately for “internships” and “internship“. I used the manual results.

Ask Vampire Bear

August 13, 2006

All experts agree: you’re not supposed to accept an internship that sucks.

If you’re unpaid, you’ll earn more – really?

August 12, 2006

Stop the press! What if unfair internships were a good thing?

Nearly half of the employers (46.2 percent) participating in the survey said they offer higher starting salaries to new college hires who have internship experience.

Among those offering higher starting salaries to candidates with internship experience, more than half reported that they have a set percentage that they add on top of their entry-level salaries. On average, they add 6.8 percent more to the position’s entry-level salary.

Others reported that they add a set dollar amount to their entry-level salaries, or base the extra on the candidate’s experience itself or on a combination of factors.

(Employers increase internships for college students, August 8th, 2006)
The message is clear: work for free until you’re the CEO and then you’ll make a lot of dough.

The mistake here is to differentiate between “internship experience” and “experience”. I sure hope that they offer a better salary to those who have experience. It doesn’t matter where it comes from.

The second interesting point is: how long do you have to work for free to have this 6.8% increase? 6.8% of 52 weeks represents three weeks and a half of salary. So if you had a 6-month internship, expect to work there at least 7 years before getting your money back. That’s IF you get a job after the internship and IF they offer you more.

Is it still worth the bet?

PS: Keep in mind that those results are from a survey where it doesn’t cost a thing to employers to pretend that they’ll offer a better salary to those who work for free. It’s a survey, not a study.

20 years in the loo

August 11, 2006

Here’s a fine piece of writing:

“When Judd Rattner was 2 years old, he accidentally locked himself in a hotel bathroom. By the time his parents managed to open the door, Rattner, now 22, had climbed under the sink and started to tinker with the plumbing.”

At least, there’s an internship story behind (Take five with GM intern Judd Rattner, Lansing State Journal, August 7, 2006). Sounds like a good program: a mentor, changing departments, etc. Who knows – maybe he’s been paid!