The Nation's Most Privileged Interns Aren't on Wall Street Anymore. They're in Silicon Valley.

Future Tense
The Citizen's Guide to the Future
March 4 2014 8:54 AM

The Nation's Most Privileged Interns Aren't on Wall Street Anymore. They're in Silicon Valley.

intern
Interns at the top 20 highest paying companies can make more than $7,000 per month.

Photo by Shutterstock.

If you feel that you are fairly compensated at your job, are proud of your recent raise, and make less than $84,000 a year, be warned: You are about to feel really annoyed. That's because interns at the top-paying companies in the country are making no less than $4,600 a month (that would be $55,200 per year) and as much as $7,000 a month. Interns. And 18 of the top 25 companies are in the tech sector.

In contrast to the media and arts industries, where interns are notoriously underpaid or just go without compensation altogether, those at tech, finance, and consulting companies can get a hefty sum for their summer or semester of work. According to a survey by Glassdoor, Twitter (No. 3 on the list) pays $6,791 per month, Facebook (No. 4) pays $6,213 per month, and Google (No. 9) pays $5,969 per month. See below for the full list.

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The company that pays interns the most, Palantir, is a software development group known for providing government agencies with data crunching software used in intelligence operations and military planning. The company is valued at $9 billion and had $450 million in revenue in 2013. So Palantir probably can afford to pay interns $7,012 a month.

Even within the context of this extreme end of the spectrum, the pay scales don't always make sense. In a similar study conducted in 2012, Glassdoor reported that JPMorgan Chase paid $3,573 per month and GE paid around $3,000 per month. Do they value their interns less? And State Farm only paid $2,377. Come on, these people have to eat! The study doesn't report on how the companies decide on intern wages, but the huge numbers seem arbitrary, plus arbitrarily huge.

Perhaps companies feel it's worth it to pay interns at this level so candidates will compete heavily for the jobs, do real work once they're at the internship, and potentially be hireable at the end of their stint. But it's worth noting that the U.S. Census Bureau is currently reporting median U.S. household income at $53,046.

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Chart by Glassdoor.

Future Tense is a partnership of SlateNew America, and Arizona State University.

Lily Hay Newman is lead blogger for Future Tense.

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