How To Ask If An Internship Is Paid

For many of us, finding a job can be challenging. Many companies want a laundry list of experience and qualifications. In a way, this is a good thing! Internships offer the opportunity for relevant experience and can better prepare you for your dream role.

They also provide experience in day-to-day working life and expectations. 

However, while there may be occasions where you can partake in an unpaid internship, we all have bills to pay, and they can sometimes be incompatible with the life you live. If this is the case, then you may need to exclusively seek out paid internships. 

While paid internships do exist, companies will not always advertise their internship position as a paid one. It may not be worth going through the process of applying and interviewing if you’re not going to take on the role.

So, if you cannot see if an internship is a paid position, you’ll need to find out. Read on to see all the ways you can do just that. 

What Is An Internship?

An internship is a position in an organization, usually held by a trainee or a student. These positions aim to give the holder work experience or the requirements to gain a specific qualification. There are two different types of internship: paid and unpaid. 

Just so there is no confusion, a paid internship is one where interns are paid for their role, while an unpaid internship is one where they are not. In an unpaid internship, the value is placed on the employer providing the intern with experience and education. 

When To Ask About Payment

During Your Interview 

Before we get onto the how we must first address the when. A great time to ask about payment is during the interview. In the majority of interviews, you will be asked 

‘Do you have any questions for us?’

In general, you should always prepare a question or two for this stage of the interview. Here, you are presented with the perfect opportunity to ask about payment. 

Through An Email

If you are not presented with the opportunity to ask about payment, there’s no need to panic. Instead, you should email the company and find out that way.  

How To Ask About Payment

The best way to ask about payment, whether you’re asking during your interview or through an email, is to be direct. Remember it is perfectly acceptable to ask questions about payment, so there’s no point in dancing around the subject.  

 However, directly does not mean rude. You must always maintain a professional yet friendly tone. Being too aggressive or hostile about money could cost you your internship because it shows a lack of respect and gratitude – and nobody wants an employee like that. 

If asking about payment through an email, it is helpful to first mention your gratitude for being considered for the role.

Additionally, you should include a note about, if accepted, how much you will be looking forward to working at the company and with the employees. After this, you can inquire about payment in a friendly and professional way. 

How To Ask About Payment: Examples 

How To Ask If An Internship Is Paid

It can be difficult to know what to say and how to say it when it comes to payment. So, here are a few examples to help you!

Option 1: Asking Directly 

You should be straightforward, respectful, and appreciative when asking about pay, so you may want to say something along the lines of, 

‘Hello. I am very grateful to be considered for this role. I see that this internship requires a lot of time and work. I was wondering if there is any financial compensation for it or is the experience gained from the role merit in itself? Thank you very much!’ 

You may also want to thank the person or company for their time. 

In an interview, you can simply ask, 

‘Is this a paid role?’ 

Option 2: Direct (Before Applying)

If you don’t feel comfortable being too direct, then you have the option to ask indirectly. There are a few ways to do this. 

If you are looking for paid internships and don’t want to apply for one that doesn’t offer monetary payment, then you should ask before you apply. Your inquiry can look like this, 

‘Hello. I would like to gain clarity about the internship role currently advertised at your company. I was wondering if there is any financial compensation for the role. Thank you!’ 

By asking before you apply, you’re showing that you value the internship, and you’re willing to go through some trouble for it to ensure it’s worth your time. 

Option 3: Non-Direct (After Applying) 

Your prepared payment question for your interview could sound a little like, 

‘What should I hope to gain from this internship?’ 

This is a great indirect way to ask about payment. It allows the interviewer to discuss how the role will help you in many ways – potentially including payment! 

Option 4: Non-Direct (After Accepting The Role)

This option is more of an ice breaker if you’re unsure about pay after a successful application. 

Your question could look like this, 

‘I am grateful for your offer of the internship position, and I’m excited to be working with you at the company. What should I do to ensure I’m doing a good job? What would you like to see during my time as an intern?’ 

You should always express gratitude for a job opportunity and then ask the necessary questions. By asking this, your boss has the opportunity to give you insight into how well they think you’re doing in your role. 

Option 5: Asking Other Interns 

This applies to both former and current interns. The best way to discuss payment with interns is through LinkedIn. You should reach out to them through a direct message and ask about payment. You could also ask how they benefited from their internship, and see what experience it has to offer! 

Tips For When You Don’t Want To Ask 

Sometimes, you may be a little nervous or uncomfortable about asking about payment. There is always the option of not asking, but this way, you may find yourself in the role of an internship not suited for you and your needs. 

If you do want to find out about payment, but don’t want to ask, here are some tips!

Include Payment In Your Resume/Cover Letter 

So, this one is very bold, and you should ensure you have the right experience or education for the role to justify including payment. You should not ask about pay in your application, but you can include a salary request. 

Including a salary request on your application shows that you’re a serious candidate, and helps you to stand out. If you’re willing to work for free when presented with the right opportunity, make sure to include this alongside your salary request!

Research Before Applying 

This should be standard practice to help you find the internships you want. Check out the company website and search for whether or not internships are paid roles.

Final Thoughts 

So, if you’re applying for an internship where it is unclear if you’ll be paid for your work, it is better to ask about payment during the interview process. Alternatively, you can ask via email during any stage of the application process – before applying, or after the interview.

If you feel uncomfortable asking, then you have the option of seeking out other interns and inquiring with them, or including a salary request on your resume/cover letter. 

You should try to inquire about payment in a direct yet friendly and professional manner.

Jamie Willis
Career Specialist at BecomeopediaHi, my name is Jamie Willis, and I have been helping students find their perfect internships and education paths for the last ten years. It is a passion of mine, and there really is nothing better than seeing students of mine succeed with further studies.

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