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Facebook pays its interns nearly double what the typical American makes

It pays to be in tech.

Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg receives an honorary degree from Harvard in 2017.
Mark Zuckerberg never had a college internship but he knows how to fund one. The median wage for a Facebook intern would work out to nearly $100,000 a year.
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Rani Molla is a senior correspondent at Vox and has been focusing her reporting on the future of work. She has covered business and technology for more than a decade — often in charts — including at Bloomberg and the Wall Street Journal.

Internships often straddle the line between professional opportunity and discounted labor. That’s not necessarily the case at some tech companies, where interns make more than many people with salaried jobs.

Facebook interns earn $8,000 a month — more than any other company’s paid interns — according to a new report by Glassdoor, a site where employees anonymously review their companies and report their salaries. For context, if interns were to work a full year, they would make $96,000, which is nearly double the median pay of $52,807 a year ($4,400 a month) for regular jobs found on the site.

Median pay at Facebook was $228,651 last year, or nearly $20,000 a month, according to the company’s Securities and Exchange Commission filings. Facebook announced this week that it will increase base pay for its thousands of contract workers in North America to $18, up from $15. Base pay in metropolitan areas will be $20 to $22.

Tech internships, like tech jobs in general, dominated the highest-paid ranks. Facebook internship pay was closely trailed by Amazon, Salesforce, Google, Microsoft, and Uber.

Facebook’s and other tech companies’ intern wages highlight how desperate Silicon Valley employers are for skilled talent. A number of studies show that there are not enough trained Americans to fill the demand for high-skilled tech labor, so companies are willing to pay a premium for talent. Related: Data scientists and software engineers are the highest-paying entry-level jobs, according to Glassdoor. And as the government cracks down on visas for high-skilled workers from other countries, courting and developing young US talent is becoming more important than ever.

Facebook advertises that “most interns ship code or contribute to real-world projects in their first week,” so presumably they’d be potential job candidates when their internships are completed.

While Facebook intern wages stayed the same since the last time Glassdoor did this study in 2017, wages for other top internships have jumped to near-Facebook levels. Meanwhile, wages for Americans overall have been stagnating for years.

Of course, Facebook has had to deal with ongoing PR crises for the past few years — including threatening American democracy — which can’t be good for attracting starry-eyed young people. Its high wages, however, could help ease interns’ apprehensions.

Current open intern positions at Facebook include ones in research, data science, and software engineering, in case you happen to be a college student who knows Python. Facebook says it hosts “thousands” of interns every summer for 12-week programs geared toward college students who’ve completed their sophomore or junior years. Facebook wouldn’t comment on how competitive the internship spots are.

As for other internships, they’re not usually as lucrative as those at top tech companies. The median pay for all internships listed on Glassdoor was about $3,000 a month, in the period from March 2018 to March 2019. Glassdoor did not include unpaid internships in its study.

The Fair Labor Standards Act requires companies to pay interns if the work they are performing is akin to what an employee would do without having educational components. The FLSA suggests a seven-part test, which you can find here, to figure out whether the intern is the “primary beneficiary” of the relationship and can forgo pay.

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