Do Interns Make More Than Entry Level Employees? Depends.



I love talking about my former place of business in my blog posts, if you haven’t noticed then let this article catch you up to speed: You’re Fired! How Getting Fired Fueled My Desire to Take my Novel Seriously [Part 1].

The main reason why I love talking about my old workplace is because it was a petri dish of mayhem. In the future, I’ll write about the “fun” things that used to happen at my old workplace.

For now, I’ll give you a little secret that you may or may not know.

Interns make more money than Entry Level Employees!

Take that to the bank and cash it.

Now, let me clarify some things:

  • Interns in this scenario are going to be under the age of eighteen, still in high school for the most part, and inexperienced.
  • Entry Level Employees are defined as being fresh out of high school or a current undergrad who’s working to put ramen and Lucky Charms on the table.

Got it?

And, now for the story, I will be changed scenarios to protect folks I care about, but you’ll get the truth.

Act 1:

We had a new intern. She attended the local high school.

I too was an intern three years prior, but now I was employed with the company almost two years. My superiors made me the intern’s “older sister”(at least that’s how I felt about it).

So, I got to show her the ropes; help her work the copier, explain what a fax machine does, tell her which elevator to step into or risk having a heart attack when the crummy one jerks, that kind of thing.

I asked this intern about her aspirations. I already knew what I wanted to be when I grew up. A full-time writer, but in the meantime, a manager of some sort at the company.

She was going to attend university to become a risk manager and do big things at a different insurance company.

I thought she was insane.

In my head, I was like: “You’re going to spend 60k a year to become an RM, when you could train to be an RM online and save more than 3/4 the amount of money?”, but I digress, I didn’t care what risk managers did, so I didn’t crush her dreams.

Act 2:

My intern and I were getting along. She worked in the cubicle behind mine, so I had free access to her computer when she needed me.

Her manager called her into the office to talk about the end of her internship, and her upcoming vacation before they shipped her off to college.

When my intern returned, she was having some computer issues, and I was down with helping her out.

I plopped down in front of her computer while she swiped left or right on her smartphone. I called my favorite IT guy when I couldn’t solve the problem. He told us to save her files, he’s on his way.

I shut down the windows for her.

She was cool with it.

The last window I saw was her payroll window, and I quickly shut it down but got a glimpse of her hourly wages. I smiled at her, sweetly.

“Computer’s all yours,” I said.

Act 3:

How, how, how, is that even possible? Her payroll screen said $11.00 on it.

I started to twitch and burst into a cold sweat. I was on my way home from work, laughing it off. Must be a silly mistake, maybe the internship program she was working with funded her paycheck which explained her gigantic wages.

I mean, when I interned I made minimum wage, at the time it was $7 bucks.

No big deal! I was in tenth-grade that was shopping at Hot Topic and eating Chic-Fil-A-til-I-drop money.

When, I graduated from high school, with an A.A. Degree, along with my high school diploma, and a bunch of accolades, stoles, and cords, and other crap they make you buy along with your cap and gown, I asked to return to the company as a full-time employee.

I was offered $8 to come back.

Wait a minute, I took economics in school. I know that a $1 dollar raise from the time I was an intern in 10th grade until the time I was a college undergrad was a tad bit low.

So, I listened to the single most important advice from, Yahoo, HuffPost, and every other career-based article: and I negotiated with the hiring manager.

I negotiated for $10 bucks.

I was counter-offered $9 bucks.

I took it! It was better than $7 bucks.

Fast forward a couple years, two promotions, one intern/trainee and I was making $12 bucks and some change. My intern went off to college to make even more money than me (but more debt, too).

I nodded, like a loser in a chess match. Well, played corporate America.

Final Act:

Looking back at the situation. I probably should’ve quit and not go through another year and a half at the company. I’m sure other companies are fair to their employees as far as wages go. Or is that wishful thinking?

That scenario taught me not to look at anyone else’s paycheck. I never used to, but I was curious. I was sickened by what I saw. But, everyone’s situation is different. I like to think I took the high road by ignoring the company’s penny-pinching ways. I think I was just trying to make ends meet and not upset anyone. Not good.But, that was then, this is now. And, I’ve learned a lot, since.

How would you feel if an intern made more than you did as a full-time employee, with benefits? I’d love to know below.


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