Even the highest-paid interns hate remote work

The interns aren’t alright.
The interns aren’t alright.
Image: Reuters/Mike Blake
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Remote work, which was forced on so many people when the pandemic struck in 2020, hit interns particularly hard. And while some salaried workers have embraced the flexibility it allows—many seem disinclined to ever return to the office full-time—new research suggests interns have continued to find the lack of face-to-face time fairly miserable. Even if they’re being payed a lot of money.

The research, from Glassdoor, looked at America’s highest intern salaries. Tech companies are paying interns the most, with interns at gaming company Roblox earning a median of $9,667 a month. Uber, Amazon, Salesforce, and Meta are all paying $8,000 a month or more, with some finance internships also highly rewarded.

After the pandemic hit, remote work was discussed frequently in Glassdoor reviews by all types of workers, interns included, but intern sentiment about remote work was much more negative than that among other employees. Interns also talked about it more. By the summer of 2021, 70% of interns who talked about remote work in their reviews did so in negative terms.

By contrast, when full and part-time employees talked about remote work, the majority did so positively even at the most painful moments of the pandemic.

“Although remote work has been positive for many regular employees, it has disrupted many interns’ experiences,” wrote Glassdoor economist Lauren Thomas. “Internships are often packed full of engaging activities designed to immerse interns in a real-world work environment and attract them back to the company post-graduation. But with the onset of COVID-19, many of these in-person events were suddenly no longer possible.”

A 2021 Harvard Business School paper suggested that there are virtual ways to foster the kind of informal networking interns might value. When interns were given opportunities to chat informally with senior managers, they got better reviews and were more likely to be hired, the paper found.

With many companies likely to remain remote or at least hybrid, firms may need to fashion new ways for interns to get the type of immersive experience their peers enjoyed pre-pandemic.