College students who land paid internships are seeing some decent hourly salaries, according to the 2008 Experiential Education Survey conducted by the National Association of Colleges and Employers (NACE). The employers (311 participated) responding to the survey reported offering their undergraduate interns an average of $16.33 per hour, and nearly $25 per hour for interns at the Masters level.
Intern salaries are impacted by a variety of factors, according to NACE, including the student’s degree level, year in school, and field of study, as well as the organization’s industry and location:
For example, a senior studying for a bachelor’s in one of the engineering fields averages $19.44 per hour, while a sophomore engineering student averages $16.65. Similarly, overall, undergraduate business majors earn less per hour than their counterparts studying the computer sciences—$15.62 versus $16.68, respectively.
Unpaid internships do continue to abound, in non-profits but also among for-profit organizations. NACE sounds a cautionary note here, however; reporting that students often report less satisfactory experiences with these opportunities (which may be an impediment to use internships as feeders for their longer-term full-time hiring strategy), often citing the lack of pay as a major reason for their dissatisfaction. My guess is that, while the lack of pay may indeed be a dissatisfier, there is probably an interplay of factors at work here: organizations that are not paying their interns may be less motivated to invest in creating the support and structure necessary for a worthwhile experience - for both parties.
Food for thought as you proceed with filling your internship spots!