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    Intern 101: How to Negotiate your Salary

    Joann Lui
    Feb 18, '13 8:35 PM EST

    Hi Archinect,

    A new intern recently asked me if he should negotiate his salary when offered a job even if he has no professional experience. OF COURSE! YES! Even if you have zero experience, you should always discuss your salary with your potential employer. Not having experience doesn't mean we don't have to pay the bills, so we should always ask for what we deserve and never work for free. I am not particularly an expert in this field, but I put together a little list based on my and other's experiences.

    1. Know your skills
    If you get to the point of negotiating salary, they probably already want to hire you. Before knowing what you are worth, you need to know why they want you. As an intern, do you have better computer skills than other candidates? Do they have to send you to training? They probably already have an idea of what they want to pay you, so knowing how beneficial you are to a firm will help you figure out what they might offer you.

    More salary negotiation strategies after the break.

    View full entry >>
    (This will take you to my website.)


    Follow me @joannlui


    • ssudarsanam

      Hey Joanne! A good post and quite some useful information there especially for people like me who have absolutely no idea. How would you suggest an international student should go about finding internships/jobs? Any ideas or suggestions?

      Feb 18, 13 4:04 pm  · 

      really good post!

      Feb 19, 13 9:21 am  · 

      Nice post.  It's also good to know what benefits are worth (how much would your health insurance be if you paid it yourself -HMO vs HD/HSA plans; 5 or 10 days vacation vs combined sick days/vacations) and expected number of work hours (40hrs work weeks vs 60 vs 80 are very different and most firms are up front about how much their employees work - it's also something I'd ask current employees, ask to speak with someone outside of the interview).

      @ssudarsanam: shoot for the bigger firms (they are more used to the process) if you need a visa - and understand that it takes them time and money if they're pulling one for you.  It can help if you offer to take it on yourself (which takes about a $5k fee to get legal help).  In some ways it's good to be upfront about it, but could be a hurdle and you might want to let it come out during the negotiation phase.

      Feb 19, 13 10:54 am  · 

      @ssudarsanam: Thanks! I am not an international student, so I don't really know the answer to that. But based on my other friends' experience, I agree with 3tk that you should shoot for bigger firms that have the funds and time to go through this process for you. They also need to sponsor you for a certain period of time (two or three years?) once they commit. So make sure you really really want to be in that firm, or you will be stuck for at least two years. That's also a good topic for a blog post!

      @Frank: Thank you! I am glad you enjoyed it.

      @3tk: Thanks for the great ideas. Speaking of work hours, asking if they pay for overtime makes a big difference too!

      Feb 19, 13 2:52 pm  · 

      Indeed. Great Post Joann.

      @ssudarsanam I agree fully with 3tk. I am was an international student, and started with a smaller firm (on OPT from my F-1 student visa) that I was unhappy with and after a lot of hard work started as an intern at a mid-sized firm and the visa conversation was painless. A word of advice though-- try to see if you can meet the requirements under an O1 visa as opposed to the H1B; it's a lot more flexible in terms of professional maneuvering. ;) Good Luck!!

      Feb 21, 13 12:00 am  · 

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I educate architects and designers (just like you) to craft a creative career that fuels your soul, reach your goals and share your talents to the world. I strive to make your life easier and give you real actionable strategies that I’ve used to build my career step by step to working in a world renowned architectural firm. More free resources are available at

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