Personal Finance

College internships are back and pay even more than before

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Key Points
  • For college students looking for summer work, opportunities — and salaries — are rising.
  • A new report by Glassdoor finds that some internships are paying as much as $8,800 a month.
  • Here are the highest-paying positions for 2021.
VIDEO1:4401:44
No job, no problem

College students searching for summer gigs are in for a shock.

The Covid pandemic, of course, hit this group especially hard. Last summer, the unemployment rate for 16-to-24 year olds was 18.5%, about twice as high as the year before.

Roughly 47% of young people were employed in July 2020, down from 56% a year earlier, according to data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics. (July is typically when youth employment peaks.)

At the same time, internship opportunities — paid or unpaid — dried up nearly entirely.

"The past year presented unique challenges for college students and recent graduates trying to gain valuable internship experience, with many employers making the difficult decision to pause hiring or even cut internships," said Amanda Stansell, an economic data scientist at job site Glassdoor.

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"Fortunately, the labor market is seeing signs of recovery, presenting opportunities for workers early in their careers to not only find internships at top companies but also earn a hefty paycheck," she added.

For college students looking for paid internships, more companies are actively recruiting, according to a new report by Glassdoor.

Tech companies, in particular, are using internships as a pipeline for hiring and that means offering highly competitive salaries, Stansell said. "It's a great way for companies to attract talent and build their talent pipeline."

Interns are making the most overall at chipmaker Nvidia, followed by Facebook and LinkedIn, where the median monthly pay is more than $8,000, according to Glassdoor. If these salaries were being paid full-time, interns would be bringing home around $100,000 a year, well above the U.S. median salary.

Top 10 Highest-Paying Internships for 2021:

1. NVIDIA
Median Monthly Pay: $8,811
See open internships 

2. Facebook
Median Monthly Pay: $8,023
See open internships 

3. LinkedIn
Median Monthly Pay: $8,009
See open internships 

4. Amazon
Median Monthly Pay: $7,954
See open internships 

5. Salesforce
Median Monthly Pay: $7,710
See open internships 

6. Capital One
Median Monthly Pay: $7,530
See open internships 

7. Microsoft 
Median Monthly Pay: $7,366
See open internships 

8. Uber
Median Monthly Pay: $7,353
See open internships 

9. Google
Median Monthly Pay: $7,129
See open internships 

10. ExxonMobil
Median Monthly Pay: $7,018
See open internships

Glassdoor's report on the highest-paying internships for 2021 is based on salary reviews reported by interns between March 1, 2020 and Feb. 28, 2021.

"One of the silver linings is that a lot of these internships are still fully remote which opens up the playing field to students across the country," Stansell said.

While scoring one of these opportunities is incredibly competitive, there are many more internships available at other companies, as well, and an increasing number of summer jobs in general.

One of the silver linings is that a lot of these internships are still fully remote which opens up the playing field to students across the country.
Amanda Stansell
Glassdoor's economic data scientist

"We anticipate an uptick in summer job opportunities for teens," including once-reliable gigs in retail stores and restaurants, said Vicki Salemi, a career expert at Monster.com. 

Even if summer positions don't appear immediately available yet, more job openings will be posted as businesses reopen and employers reevaluate their needs, she said.

"It's important to keep your eyes and ears open, if you haven't landed one yet, it doesn't mean you are not going to."

VIDEO1:3501:35
Teens aren't taking summer jobs, they're going to summer school instead

In general, however, teenagers are less likely to be looking to work, according to a study by the Hamilton Project and Brookings Institution.

That's partly because there are more summer academic programs available and more teens completing community service as part of their graduation requirements or to bolster their college applications, in addition to more students taking unpaid internships, which the BLS doesn't count, according to a separate analysis by the Pew Research Center.

The share of teens participating in the labor force peaked 40 years ago and has declined ever since.

In 1979, nearly 60% of American teenagers were employed, an all-time high. Today, just over one-third, or 35%, of teens between the ages of 16 and 19 are part of the workforce.

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