The Highest Paying Internships in U.S. Are All In the Tech Industry, We Aren't Surprised

I always knew that picking a career in the arts wasn't the most, ah, lucrative of choices, but a new report from careers website Glassdoor.com has really driven the point home: it turns out that some of the country's highest-paying internship programs give interns more than most actual, paid workers — and zero percent of those programs are in the arts. The top paying internship in the U.S.? Palantir, a computer software company, which gives a cool $7,012 per month to its interns. That's roughly 62 percent more than your average U.S. household income.

The list of the 25 best-paying internships is made up mostly of big tech companies, with a couple of oil companies thrown in. Twitter is third on the list; there, the average intern gets $6,781 a month. LinkedIn and Facebook come after that, paying roughly in the same ballpark, with each giving interns more than $6,000 a month. Both Chevron and ExxonMobil interns get over $5,000 a month on average.

Even more heartbreaking for those of us who don't have a hope with computers, the pay at these top companies is actually going up: according to Glassdoor spokesman Scott Dobroski, pay has increased between 2 and 5 percent per year for most of the programs listed.

“The fight for the best and brightest young minds is fierce,” Dobroski said. “If these great minds go somewhere else, that’s going to hurt them, so they’re willing to pay top dollar.”

The list comes at a time when the worth of college and the internship industry are both being questioned. The college graduate employment rate is at the lowest it's been in over two decades; those who do get hired often don't find salaries that cover their insane student debts — it's starting to feel like paying for school just doesn't make sense. Then again, according to a recent study from Georgetown University, graduates with tech and math degrees tend to have lower unemployment rates than those in the arts — the truth is, the tech industry is just better able to provide for its interns.

The difference is almost tangible. Compare those tech-industry numbers to the top-end of the editorial spectrum: Mother Jones, for example, pays its "fellows" (who are basically interns), $1,500 a month; VICE magazine pays its interns $10 an hour, as does Slate. And these are highly competitive positions, ones that any intern would die to get. Meanwhile, other editorial-related programs struggle with giving interns as little as humanly possible — Condé Nast, for instance, famously cut its own internship program only earlier this year after being sued for violating minimum wage laws. Similar lawsuits hit Harper’s Bazaar, Gawker and Elite Model Management, to name a few, but many internships in the arts sector continue to pay little-to-nothing.

Worst of all? A recent survey conducted by the National Association of Colleges and Employers has found that doing an unpaid internship makes little to no difference to your job prospects, compared with not doing an internship at all. "The unpaid internship had no impact relative to having no internship, at least in terms of getting a job," said Edwin Koc, NACE's director of strategic and foundation research. So not only are these tech kids getting paid more for interning, they're also more likely to get jobs and keep getting paid more.

The whole retiring-at-thirty idea is looking damn tempting, that's all I have to say.

Image: Glassdoor