Internships have long been synonymous with unpaid labor, the kind of dull summer role that involves fetching coffee and handling mundane tasks.
But the tech industry is rewriting the rules of summer internships, providing not only lavish pay but generous perks such as housing and travel stipends. In fact, this summer's crop of interns will be pulling down as much as $10,000 per month each in pay, or more than double what the average American household earns.
The median monthly salary for tech interns at 18 companies is $6,800, or more than $81,000 annually, according to Bloomberg. In comparison, the median U.S. household income is about $54,000, or $4,500 a month. A few companies are reportedly paying as much as $10,000 per month, such as Snapchat and the tech-based hedge fund Two Sigma Investments, according to data collected by former University of California Berkeley student Rodney Folz.
While his data was gathered through an online survey with about 500 responses, previous research from the employment site Glassdoor has confirmed Folz's findings: Tech companies pay their interns generously.
The findings underscore the separation in today's labor market between those with bankable skills such as coding or engineering and students who pursue degrees in lower-earning subjects, such as elementary education or counseling.
A generation ago, the earnings divergence didn't really start until a year or two out of college. But as these internships show, studying a STEM (science, technology, engineering or mathematics) now has a pay advantage even before graduation day.
College grads who major in chemical engineering, aerospace engineering, energy and extraction engineering, and computer engineering will benefit from median lifetime earnings of more than $2 million, The Hamilton Project found in a 2014 study. However, careers involving children -- such as education or child care -- will deliver median lifetime earnings of just $800,000, the economic policy think-tank found.
Of course, the economy couldn't function very well if students snubbed essential subjects such as education or social work (another low-paying career). And not all students have the aptitude to focus on engineering or computer science, nor do all have the patience or temperament for childhood education.
But with the economic divide between the haves and have-nots growing wider in America, the wealth of the tech classes is creating resentment and culture clashes in cities such as San Francisco. The friction between well-heeled tech workers and long-time San Francisco residents even became the subject of a Harvard Business School case study about inequality within the city.
According to Folz's data, the top paying company for interns is Two Sigma, at $10,400 per month, plus $5,000 in relocation costs and $5,000 for housing. That's followed by Snapchat, which is paying $10,000 per month and $1,500 for housing. At the bottom of the list is Amazon, with reported monthly pay of $6,000 and benefits ranging from $1,500 to $7,500.
If accurate, this means interns are making more than they were just two years ago, when Glassdoor found that the most lucrative internship paid $7,012 a month.