Can You Negotiate Salary as a Computer Science Intern?

The software engineering market is fluctuating like never before, and it is now more important to get undergraduate experience to get that new grad Software Engineer role. But, like the new grad role, can you negotiate internship offers?

On average, negotiating internships is meaningless since most companies now base their internship salary base on credit hours taken at a university. Internships’ main purpose isn’t to provide a job and money anyways. Internships provide insight into how a software engineer operates from day to day.

Although I know some special cases why interns were granted special privileges, these privileges usually concern personal health, close family personal health, and other more serious life events. These big companies seem intimidating, but bosses and recruiters are behind those doors to help.

What is the goal of being an Intern?

The goal of being an intern is becoming lost to more social media posts in the past few years. Yes, when I was struggling with college and the money hardships that go along with that, I complained about how much I was getting paid by my employer. I missed some of the key lessons that internships teach you.

Goal #1: A Team Environment

Computer science majors have to balance multiple classes with group projects. That team environment does not even remotely compare to the scrum and agile frameworks used daily in software engineering.
Asking for help is another huge step in working with a team. Knowing who to ask for what questions, what form of communication to use for what type of question, and telling your product owner no, you can’t work on a sprint because you don’t have the bandwidth to work on that project right now.
Experiencing new workplace occurrences helped me with my social awareness, not because I am socially awkward, but learning how different people operate and act accordingly to succeed.

Goal #2: New Technologies

When you are hired on the job, most hiring managers expect you to know nothing about the technology you are working with. Even if you do, you have to work with a HUGE codebase. Learning and applying software architecture and design patterns to real-world scenarios is important for any young engineer.
When you look for a job after college, employers will look at the technologies and accomplishments of your internship to see if you can be a match for their company.

Goal #3: Networking

Growing your network as a young professional is the best thing you can ever do for your career. Why? Networking is very similar to investing in the stock market, but we aren’t investing in companies but in people’s careers.
When more computer science students graduate and end up in the workforce, the few you keep in contact with or add on LinkedIn will get well-paying jobs. Using your connection from an internship, you could ask for a referral for a job at that company.
Why would they give a referral if you only met a couple of times? Companies often give referral bonuses for employees that give recruiters the names and contact info of capable candidate that gets hired.

Goal #4: Get an Offer

I was dead set on getting an offer with the company I was serving my internship over the summer of my junior year. Throughout my internship, I did not like the work I was doing, and I ended up not liking the area where the company was located even more.
When it came to the offer, the company was pleased with my work, and I was offered a full-time job that was a decent salary. I just remembered that this was a hot offer. I was only given two weeks to say yes and no! So I asked for two extensions making up excuses like, “my school work is a lot right now, and I haven’t put in the proper time and effort a life-changing decision like this needs.” The extension allowed me to take even more interviews, and I ended up using the offer for negotiations in the future, raising my salary by over $10,000+!

Is it even worth negotiating?

I don’t think anyone should unless they have other responsibilities or accommodations to be met to work at a specific company.

I would say that negotiating internships would make sense if you have offers that you don’t care about. I don’t see the harm in trying if you have other better offers. I would still try to be polite because you can still find a job at that company and should keep options open in the future.

Don’t negotiate. Find better internships

I am afraid to say that as long as a candidates lack the experience needed to negotiate. Companies can find very similar applicants to you and can go to the next resume in the list.

There are lots of internships out there, but there a smaller amount of internships that can help kickstart your computer science career.

Where to find valuable Internships?

I currently write about the Top 25 Internships that are currently available and is updated monthly.