For many university students and graduates, getting a foot in the door to many industries requires a tough shell and a willingness to work for peanuts (or for free). Unpaid internships are on the rise, and many students struggle to pay the rent and secure a job in their chosen field, especially in shaky economic times.

Not all internships are unpaid, however, and, at some top companies, an intern position can represent a golden ticket away from ramen noodles and macaroni and cheese. The highest paying internships are often in the tech industry as tech giants battle for the best and the brightest from a small pool of candidates, often trying to secure interns before they graduate from university. Here are five of the top paying internships along with their average monthly salary:

SEE: Experience Or Education: Which One Lands You The Job?

Microsoft- Research Intern ($6,746)
Microsoft almost always rates in the top 10 companies to work for and its intern positions are well-compensated. Interns are hired to work at many research locations around the world, including Cairo, Bangalore and Beijing. According to the company's website, most of the research interns are PhD students, but they sometimes take on Bachelor or Master's students with advanced research skills.

Google- Software Engineering Intern ($6,463)
Tech giant Google, is not only an employer but it has created a whole little universe in Silicon Valley. The head office boasts 18 restaurants and cafes, free breakfasts, lunches and dinners, and a wide variety of other perks to capture and keep the loyalty of its staff. Software engineering interns are hired for locations across North America. They are involved in product development and testing, site reliability and productivity engineering.

SEE: 4 Wild Company Headquarters

Facebook- Engineering Intern ($5,400- $6,800)
Facebook, the new kid on the Silicon Valley tech block, is also engaged in the battle to find new engineering and computer science students. On top of a competitive intern salary, some interns report that the company also pays a housing stipend of up to $1,000 a month. With Facebook's recent initial public offering, the company will continue to expand rapidly and its need for intern should grow with it.

Amazon- Software Development Engineer Intern ($5,552)
While Amazon's core business is significantly different than Google, Microsoft or Facebook, its need for talented computer students is the same as it maintains its monstrous online ordering network. Amazon often rates lower on lists of the best companies to work for, including those based directly on intern feedback. Its location in Seattle may be attractive to students who don't want to professionally reside in Silicon Valley, however, Amazon competes directly with Microsoft for local students.

PriceWaterhouseCoopers - Advisory Services Intern ($4,702)
The only non-tech entry on the list is PriceWaterhouseCoopers, one of the "Big Five" accounting firms. The company often hires student interns for the summer or for co-op work experience semesters. The advisory services team deals with management consulting, finance and business planning, among other areas. The company also provides an international intern opportunity in offices around the world.

The Bottom Line
Not all industries offer paid internships and those that do pay don't all offer big bucks. The highest intern salaries are found in industries with significant competition and with a limited supply of graduating students. These arrangements benefit the company by allowing it to hire the best of the crop, and the company benefits the students by allowing them to launch their careers in their chosen fields while still being able to pay living expenses and student loans.

Related Articles
  1. Personal Finance

    10 Reasons It Is Time to Look for a New Job

    Learn 10 good reasons for switching jobs, such as major life changes, ethical concerns, job description creep and upwards mobility.
  2. Investing

    Smart Farming Technology Storms Silicon Valley

    Silicon Valley may be known for growing tech startups, but now the iconic region is welcoming an entirely new breed of residents, startups focusing on smart farming.
  3. Investing News

    Are High Valuations In Silicon Valley Over?

    Silicon Valley valuations, which hit the roof earlier this year, are coming down to earth. What caused the rise? And, what brought about their downfall?
  4. Fundamental Analysis

    How Nasty Gal's Sophia Amoruso Built a Fashion Empire

    In 2006, Nasty Gal founder Sophia Amoruso planted the seeds for what would become an online fashion empire. Here's how.
  5. Taxes

    Payroll Taxes: Picking Apart Your Paycheck

    Here's what gets deducted from your pay, what your employer pays and where your payroll taxes actually end up.
  6. Professionals

    5 Things to Request If You Can't Get a Raise

    The job market is improving, but many companies are still running on tight budgets which means no raises. But there are other forms of compensation.
  7. Personal Finance

    5 U.S. Cities With High Paychecks and a Low Cost of Living

    Consider these U.S. hubs where workers get paid competitive salaries while enjoying a high quality of life due to a low cost of living.
  8. Markets

    The Biggest Companies in Silicon Valley

    Understand what types of companies are the most successful in Silicon Valley. Learn about the top six largest Silicon Valley companies by market cap.
  9. Economics

    6 Signs That You’ve Made It To Middle Class

    A government task force pinpointed the six financial aspirations that characterize life in the middle class.
  10. Professionals

    The Highest-Paying Engineering Careers

    Learn more about some of the highest-paying jobs in field of engineering. With just a bachelor's degree, most engineers in these jobs make well over $100,000.
  1. Does working capital include salaries?

    A company accrues unpaid salaries on its balance sheet as part of accounts payable, which is a current liability account, ... Read Full Answer >>
  2. Do financial advisors need to meet quotas?

    Most financial advisors are required to meet quotas, particularly if they work for firms that pay base salaries or draws ... Read Full Answer >>
  3. What is the difference between AGI (adjusted gross income) and gross income?

    In the United States, individuals pay taxes based on their adjusted gross income, or AGI, rather than their gross income. ... Read Full Answer >>
  4. What is the relationship between research and development and innovation?

    Although it's possible to achieve innovation without research and development and it's possible to conduct research and development ... Read Full Answer >>
  5. How is marginal propensity to save calculated?

    Marginal propensity to save is used in Keynesian macroeconomics to quantify the relationship between changes in income and ... Read Full Answer >>
  6. How can minimum wages contribute to a market failure?

    The minimum wage acts like a price floor on labor, reducing the supply of jobs available to a level below the market-clearing ... Read Full Answer >>

You May Also Like

Hot Definitions
  1. Take A Bath

    A slang term referring to the situation of an investor who has experienced a large loss from an investment or speculative ...
  2. Black Friday

    1. A day of stock market catastrophe. Originally, September 24, 1869, was deemed Black Friday. The crash was sparked by gold ...
  3. Turkey

    Slang for an investment that yields disappointing results or turns out worse than expected. Failed business deals, securities ...
  4. Barefoot Pilgrim

    A slang term for an unsophisticated investor who loses all of his or her wealth by trading equities in the stock market. ...
  5. Quick Ratio

    The quick ratio is an indicator of a company’s short-term liquidity. The quick ratio measures a company’s ability to meet ...
  6. Black Tuesday

    October 29, 1929, when the DJIA fell 12% - one of the largest one-day drops in stock market history. More than 16 million ...
Trading Center