Project manager going over project details with team members

Some aspiring tech professionals really want to work for a startup, and it’s easy to see why. Many startups want to change the world, or at least disrupt an industry with a cool idea. The pace of work is bracingly fast, and an individual worker can often have a lot of input on strategy. Last but certainly not least, equity in a startup can translate into a significant amount of money—provided the startup succeeds as wildly as its founders hoped.

An internship is one of the most efficient ways to land a full-time position at a startup. If you show initiative for getting things done, chances are good your internship manager will advocate for the startup to find you a regular position. But how much do such internships pay in the meantime?

That’s a great question, and a hard one to answer. Some internships will pay a minimum wage. Others offer quite a bit of compensation: check out the following list from, which relies on crowdsourcing to break down the highest-paying startup internships:

Although crowdsourcing isn’t always the most accurate way of determining salary numbers (and it’s debatable whether organizations like Twitch, which is an Amazon subsidiary, count as a “startup”), one thing is clear: a summer internship at a top startup can prove quite lucrative—and competitive, at least on a per-hour basis, with top internships in data science, tech, and other fields.

But how do you actually land one of those prized internships? That’s a key question. No matter what your background or target company, it’s important to apply as early as possible. Applications for summer internships at big companies usually begin the previous year, with many slots filled by December, and it’s no different at competitive startups.

With some startups, though, you may have a little bit more leeway when it comes to timing. If you’re already involved in tech in some capacity, such as participating in open-source projects or helping build products for fun, leverage your network to discover internship opportunities—you never know who’s potentially working on something interesting.

When applying for a startup internship, you should highlight your current skills and how you’d like to grow. Make it clear that you see the internship as a great way to learn, especially if the startup requires its interns to perform a variety of functions throughout the organization.

Once you land an internship, keep in mind that you’re there to absorb as much as possible from your team. Contribute as much as you can, and keep an eye out for a manager or subject-matter specialist who can mentor you. Success as an intern at a startup can unlock a permanent position at the company, especially if you speak up for yourself and network effectively.