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Interns at these 25 companies make more than the median U.S. worker

Mark Zuckerberg's company Facebook pays interns a median wage of $8,000 a month. (Stephen Lam/Reuters)

Summer is nearing, and workplaces everywhere are awaiting the arrival of this year's interns to help out on extra projects and shoulder the seasonal load. But among certain companies, they're likely doing more than getting coffee and making copies. Or at least, they're being paid that way.

According to a new report by the jobs site Glassdoor, the 25 best-paying companies for internships each pay their median summer worker more than $4,500 a month. That amount, if it was paid over the course of a full year, would be north of $54,000, exceeding the median annual pay for a U.S. worker, according to Glassdoor's own local pay reports ($51,350), and the annual figure calculated from the Bureau of Labor Statistics' latest weekly earnings data for full-time wage and salary workers ($44,460).

Topping the list was Facebook, where the median pay for interns is $8,000 a month, according to the reports from the newest analysis. That's $1,800 more than the $6,200 the social media giant reportedly paid interns when Glassdoor last issued its last highest paying internship report, in 2014. The next three were Microsoft (which pays a median $7,100 a month), ExxonMobil ($6,507) and Salesforce ($6,450).

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Interns are “doing real work with real deadlines and very high expectations,” said Scott Dobroski, Glassdoor's community expert, in an interview. “But they're getting hired at a level that's much more than the average U.S. worker.” 

Glassdoor's analysis is culled from self-reported salary numbers offered by current or recent interns (those who have completed an internship within the past year) and includes only companies that have at least 25 reports. Dobroski notes that the numbers are a median — sought-after engineering interns with specialized skills likely make more than summer workers in the marketing department — and that the more limited differences between experience levels and job categories for interns allow for the smaller sample size.

Among the top 25, the list remains heavily technology focused, with 16 of the top 25 in tech or tech-related fields, along with finance, oil and gas, and consulting firms. At all but three of the 16 companies that made repeat appearances from 2014, the median pay went up, sometimes sizably, with seven seeing percentage increases of 10 percent or more. (Emails to representatives from the top four companies to confirm Glassdoor's numbers were not immediately returned or declined to confirm the data.)

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Some firms well known for high summer pay — investment banks, say, or law firms — might not be represented if there are not enough salary reports from interns to meet the sample size, Dobroski said. That was the case with firms such as Goldman Sachs or Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher & Flom, he said. Geography also plays a role: Companies with large employee populations in big coastal cities, such as Bloomberg (No. 7) or the many tech firms on the list, end up paying more, even to interns. “Part of it is definitely driven by geography,” he said. “More than half of them are headquartered in the San Francisco Bay Area or New York.”

Dobroski says Glassdoor does not have data on whether the lawsuits in recent years over paid versus unpaid internships — or the general attention paid to that issue — may have had an impact on an increase.

“But what we see anecdotally and hear from employers and in policymaking is a push toward paying for interns, as well as guidelines within companies that they're being treated more like full-time or part-time employees,” he said. “They've no longer just come in for babysitting. The internship is designed for you to get experience.”

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