Intern compensation?

Joseph Galarneau Founder and CEO at Mezzobit, creating transparency and control for Internet data

April 6th, 2014

I can readily see what development interns make at the big companies (Google et al), but what your experience at setting compensation for them in the early-stage world?

Top-drawer internships are in the $70K annualized range. Have been talking to some reputable overseas schools who are looking to place students in NYC, and they're requiring a $1,800 monthly stipend (and this is for a university that in a city with a comparable cost of living to NYC).

I think that's too low for US interns, but what's the happy medium?

And what about non-technical interns (like marketing students)? This would be for undergrads, not MBAs.

Candice Hughes, PhD, MBA

April 7th, 2014

I found college student or high school students are satisfied with $10-$15 per hour. From there you would need to work out how many hours you need them. (This is in NYC metro.) I don't recruit people from far away to move to my location. If they are here at the time fine. Also, I have a long-distance collaboration with a college where the professor helps with some supervision. For the average student, you have to expect to spend time helping them and not anticipate major amounts of work from them. After all, they're learners that's why they're interns. That said, I have received some very helpful work on projects. It is more hit or miss and you can't go in expecting they will make major progress for you. If you are paying $50,000-$70,000 per year as a startup to an intern that seems out of line with the lean startup concept to me. Would you be better off paying that amount to an experienced contractor?

Dimitry Rotstein Founder at Miranor

April 6th, 2014

Maybe that's not exactly relevant, but I was once an intern at some Silicon Valley startup. It wasn't early stage though - a few years on the market with some nice revenues, but not a big company either. Besides, I can't imagine a very early stage startup having interns, let alone paying them. Anyway, I got a stipend of $4K per month. This was in 2002.

John Arroyo Delivering ecommerce and cloud applications, CEO of Arroyo Labs

April 10th, 2014

In los angeles we paid our interns 3200 - 4000 a month.  There is a ramp up and learning curve for any intern, candice brings up a good point.  If you are paying close to 70k for an intern, like some in the bay area do then you're better off finding a more qualified freelancer.  Only if your strategy is long term team building with the intern would that make sense in an early stage start up.

Some funded start ups here pay their interns in the 15 range and give them boring tasks, in this case the interns may not stay and definitely don't want a job there after graduation.  It's purely a resume builder for them at that point.