All Hail the Rise of the (Well) Paid Internship: Is GenZ Turning The Tables on employers?

A recent Glassdoor survey revealed 25 companies offering interns ‘top dollar’ in 2022. Some of the companies in this survey are said to be paying interns a jaw-dropping $10,000 per month, and, with competition for undergraduates as hot as it is, there seems to be (finally) a movement towards the end of the ‘free’ intern.

How job opening affect internships

Whilst the survey mentioned above looks primarily at US-based companies, the same goes for placements and internships in England. Whilst many people have become aware of the record amount of job openings since the pandemic because of the shift to digital as well as what is dubbed ‘the Great Resignation’, what some of us may have overlooked is the effect this has on recent graduates. Both across the pond and in the UK, young people seem to want different things from employers now. This puts more pressure on employers to convince talent to come and work for them and they need to offer more money and better perks. A recent Insider article ranked the 10 best paying internships in the UK and although the companies listed in this article, such as Morgan Stanley, are offering a more modest £3000-£4000 per month, this is still a healthy amount for any undergrad. Once seen as the bottom of the pile in terms of experience and industry expertise, it seems clear that recent graduates are now more sought after as the competition for top talent grows fiercer.

Can well paid internships be the new normal?

If you are one of the lucky ones, whose chosen industry features these very well-paid internships, and you manage to bag yourself one, could this be one of the best and fairest ways to settle some of that dreaded future student debt? A 2021 report found that it takes the average person around 20 years to pay off their student loans, with some people taking up to 45 years to fully pay them off. Having debt hanging over you is obviously stressful and undesirable in the extreme and with the cost of attending university increasing steadily, the nascence of the (well) paid internship is a step in the right direction. It shifts some of the financial burden of a university degree also to a future employer, who hopefully will stop expecting the ‘ready-made’ graduate with all the right experience – acquired at their own cost - to join their ranks after graduating.

So, with tech companies like Roblox and Uber paying interns between $8000 and $10000 per month, the value of the ‘un-experienced’ worker shoots up. One would hope that this could indeed signal a movement towards the end of unpaid internships, but - it must be cautioned - this seems to very industry-dependent. Industries such as fashion and journalism, for example, still seem be paying their interns very little or nothing at all and recruit purposely from very narrow pools. Sadly (for some of us), the top 25 companies named in the Glassdoor report operate predominantly in the tech industry with the remainder of openings in the investment- or banking sectors. The hope goes however that, as paid internships become more ‘normalised’, mounting pressure from bright young undergrads combined with increased job vacancies will lead to more industries having to change their ideas.

So, why not make the most of some of the world’s biggest companies trying to pull in undergraduates, and put some of that hard-earned cash towards paying off the oh-so-scary student debt that may be piling up?

GenZ, may be the generation to finally turn the tables and make work experience and internships pay, which is both good for self-esteem and for keeping those student loans in check.

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