Go Get a Paid Internship!
Paid internships are more competitive - who wouldn't like to have a little extra cash on hand? Some colleges allow students to take any internship they're offered, while others prefer students to take unpaid internships only. If you attend school at a college that allows you to take a paid position, here's what you need to know about working in this kind of internship role.
Types of Payment
With a paid internship, you're typically offered one of three types of payment for your work:
- Hourly Wage: Like a part-time job, you might be paid on an hourly basis. If this is the case, companies must follow federal regulations for paying you, including minimum wage requirements. However, interns usually receive a lower hourly wage than others in the company.
- Weekly Salary: Instead of paying you on an hourly basis, some internship programs offer an overall salary for the position, with weekly (or bi-weekly) payments. This is more common with summer positions where you'll work a regular schedule than internships during the semester, where your schedule will be sporadic to accommodate your classes and other academic obligations.
- Stipend: Some internships pay you a stipend. With this scenario, you'll receive a lump sum payment for the entire internship. Room and board are commonly part of a stipend for a paid internship.
While the economic climate typically determines the percentage of internship opportunities that are paid, more and more companies are beginning to realize the benefits or offering at least a small stipend to their interns. The best candidates for internships apply to paid positions, so they're incentive for a company to provide funding for their program.
Quick Fact: According to the Princeton Review, over half of all internships are paid. In a report by the Employers Resource Council, of those paid internships, 80% were given an hourly wage.
Some colleges also offer money to students completing internships.
This most typically comes as a stipend and is usually part of a summer or semester-long program where students live away from campus to complete an internship program. In addition to money, employers and college sometimes offer scholarships to interns.
Benefits to a Paid Internship
Obviously, the biggest benefit to a paid internship is the money. There are other advantages to this type of internship to consider as well, however.
First, with a paid internship, the company is already setting aside money for someone to work in your position. If you do a good job and take on increasing responsibilities throughout your internship, there's definitely the potential for you to take on a full-time position with the company in the future. Paid internships are often seen as more serious job candidates.
Another benefit to a paid internship is that you can be certain that you'll be taken more seriously as an employee during your time with the company.
As an unpaid intern, you might be used mostly to do simple office tasks and job shadow other employees, but if a company is paying you, they'll want to get as much benefit as possible from your presence every day. That's not to say you won't do anything at an unpaid internship, but with a paid internship, there is added incentive for the employer to put you in the thick of things in their company.
Financial Responsibilities as a Paid Intern
Keep in mind that just as an employer must follow federal labor laws when hiring you as a paid intern, you have certain legal responsibilities as well if you're receiving money for the work you do in such a program. Namely, your earnings must be reported when you file your taxes as the end of the year. Your college might also require you to report your earnings with the company as part of their internship program. If you're confused about your financial responsibilities, talk to an accountant or your school's internship director - they can help you understand the laws in your state.
While paid internships are great, unpaid internships can also be beneficial to you as a student. On the next page, we'll take a look at unpaid options for students.
- Interns can be paid hourly, weekly, or via a stipend.
- Some colleges offer funds for students participating in internships. Students may also receive college scholarships.
- Along with money, with a paid internship you're often taken more seriously as an employee. Your internship could lead to a full time position with the company.
- If you are paid, you have the financial legal responsibility to report your earnings according to federal, state, and local laws.