Many university students ask, “Can I negotiate my internship salary?”
The short answer is, yes. It’s never too early to start negotiating your salary. According to Forbes, nearly all pay raises are given to employees before they turn 35, and pay raises are getting smaller and smaller. Since future pay raises are given as a percentage of your current salary, your starting salary means even more in the long run than you might think.
That’s why you should negotiate your salary as early as possible, even as an intern. Negotiating with your hiring manager may be scary, since more than 40% of internships are unpaid, according to a 2015 National Association of Colleges and Employers’ survey. However, there are plenty of interns who have successfully negotiated a paycheck prior to their start date. And for those who haven’t been successful in bumping up their pay, they’ve still gained valuable negotiating experience that they can apply later in their careers.
Before you go ahead and start negotiating your salary, keep a few things in mind:
- Research, research, research. If you don’t know what your position is worth, you won’t know how to negotiate your starting salary. Start by researching your company and the offered position on websites that provide free salary evaluations, such as Glassdoor, LiveCareer, and Salary.com Don’t just rely on one website. Some salaries are contributed by past employees, so the accuracy of that data is not insured. Thus, make sure that you are gathering information from a variety of sources so that you have more standardized information to plan your negotiation. And don’t forget to double check your sources for accuracy and reliability.
- Demonstrate what you can bring. Now that you have a baseline estimate of what your position is worth, make a list of skills – both hard and soft – and experiences that you’ve acquired throughout your career. Understandably, as an intern, you may not have a diverse portfolio of previous experiences that you can leverage for negotiations.
However, just because most of your experience and skills were obtained at school doesn’t mean they aren’t value – you can still bring them to the table for the salary talk. Make sure to capitalize on in-class reports, presentations, leadership roles and extracurricular activities that have either tangible results or applicable skills. Any capabilities that show how you can improve the business will increase your worth in your employer’s eyes and help you negotiate your salary higher.
- Maintain confidence. Just because you are an intern doesn’t mean that you’re less qualified or less deserving of a higher salary. If you believe that you are worth more than the initial salary offering, stand firm. Logically explain why that is to your employer, and how you can bring value to the company. Your confidence, backed with level-headedness, will garner respect and make the negotiation more readily agreed upon.
- Look for integrative solutions. Sometimes, an agreement about salary simply can’t be reached. Perhaps the company doesn’t have the budget, or maybe the internship is standardized for many other interns in the same program. However, that doesn’t mean that the negotiation is over. There are other perks and benefits you can request in exchange for the mix of skills you offer, such as additional vacation time, a transportation stipend, or work-from-home days. What your employer wants and what you want may overlap, but may not overlap concerning money. Think outside the box, and you never know what you can find.
Reporting by Liwen Xu