Interns in Singapore earn up to $5k monthly. Really?

By May 4, 2017Current

TL;DR – Not all internships are created equal.

An article was published on Straits Times stating that interns in Singapore can now get up to $5,000 monthly.

We probably have our fair share of internship experience from our tertiary education days and the reaction upon reading the news would most probably be like,

Of course, $5,000 for internship sounds almost impossible, but if you read the article in detail (which we now know most people don’t) you will also notice a few things that set these internships apart from the typical ones that we are familiar with. Such as,

Interns working at foreign investment banks in Singapore and sovereign wealth fund GIC can receive between $3,000 and $5,000 monthly, according to data compiled by jobs site Glassdoor.

Read, “foreign” and “investment banks”.

Some people caught it,

But that’s not to say they are happy with that.

If I may share my two cents…

From my personal experience, one of the biggest differences between internships at such firms and the typical local internship (or industrial attachment) is the role involved.

The typical internship most of us would have encountered in our school days can be summed up as simply – cheap labour. Photocopying documents, shredding paper, buying coffee, playing errand boy, been there done that.

On the other hand, people I know who have undergone such “$3,000 to $5,000” internships, their job is usually nothing less than that of a full-fledged employee and their tasks much more vigorous than the first jobs of many fresh graduates. As much as such an allowance may seem high, they too are being hired as “cheap labour” because to the companies, they are paying only a fraction of what they would otherwise pay an employee in that role. However, it is not just about dollars and cents here. More often than not, the internship is a “trial period” for both the employer and intern to discover talent, nurture them and see how they fit into the organisation.

Or maybe I should just reskill and land myself an internship at a tech firm. After all, they seem to be paying the most.

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Smith Leong

Author Smith Leong

Your resident Sports, and NetFlix but no chill guy. Also blogs at

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