What It Was Like to Be a Summer Intern 10 Years Ago vs. Today

We’ve come a long way.

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Gone are the days where interning for 40 hours a week for no pay is the norm. Thanks to social media, millennials are voicing their concerns and disapproval of working for free, as they should. Paying to live in a big city without any compensation doesn’t make much sense, and the previous norm is becoming less and less common. There are even Twitter accounts that poke fun at companies that have the nerve to ask people to work for free or without any benefits. While some companies still try to push for the “experience over compensation” narrative, the competition often leaves them in the dust. We took a look at just how much change has occurred in 10 years of being a summer intern.

Low stipends were the norm

2007 and 2008:

In 2007, a woman named Monica interned in Washington, D.C., four days a week for three months only to be paid a $600 stipend. That is roughly $2 an hour. In 2008, she interned for minimum wage on top of taking a $6 bus to and from work. 


While some unpaid internships do still exist, in return for college credit, most students are opting out of seeking them. According to Indeed, the average intern in 2019 earns around $12.84 per hour. This is much greater than the low summer stipends we saw in 2008. Big media companies like BuzzFeed pay their interns $18 an hour while large tech companies like Facebook pay their interns a monthly median of $8,000. Internships are easier to find than ever with Twitter accounts and Facebook groups dedicated to posting new opportunities. 

Strict dress codes existed


A man named Abraham interned at a newspaper where men were required to wear suits every day. The internship was unpaid. On weekends, the dress code for men was business casual, but cotton pants were not allowed. Interns were always on-call and required to exit subway rides at 30-minute intervals to avoid being out of range.


Dress codes are much more chill for the modern-day intern. While coming to work in exercise gear or a onesie still isn’t going to fly, gone are the days of wearing a suit and tie or dress and tights to your internship (except for some business internships). The code is so relaxed at some companies that you might appear as “trying too hard” if you show up in anything other than jeans, a nice top, and sneakers.

Freelancing wasn’t as big of a thing


Multiple internships were vital for obtaining a job after college, especially in creative fields like media and fashion. In a 2008 article by The New Republic, the author explores the need for internships at big publications to break into the world of journalism. The advanced age for joining the industry was 24 or 25 and usually required previous journalism experience in high school and college as well.


College students today can freelance and contribute to publications that were once impossible to work for without connections. Gone are the days that your resume may never be seen because of the other hundreds of applicants for the same role. Students can reach out directly to employers on LinkedIn and even grab their attention on Twitter. It’s easier now than ever to find out the name and contact information for a hiring manager or to pitch your work through an online submission form. Students and graduates can have their work published in top publications and negotiate the cost of their projects all while working remotely if they want.

Related: How Basketball Prospect Darius Bazley Reinvented the Internship

Related: 6 Coolest, Weirdest and Funniest Job Recruitment Strategies

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