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.