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Unpaid internships are controversial — sometimes illegal — and the issue generated a lot of buzz earlier this year when publisher Conde Nast settled a lawsuit brought on by its unpaid interns. Employers have to abide by Department of Labor internship laws when attempting to use such workers, which are crucial to protecting thousands of career rookies as they scramble for job experience.

On the other hand, some interns earn more money than they know what to do with. The average monthly income for a U.S. household was $4,280 in 2012, but at some companies, a single intern can net more than $5,000 a month. That’s a ton of money for someone who has yet to earn his or her college diploma. Heck, some of these kids aren’t out of high school yet.

15 Companies Where Interns Make Big Bucks

Bloomberg News analyzed intern salary reports posted to career site Glassdoor and came up with a list of the companies with the highest-paying internships. The rankings only include companies with 20 or more user-submitted salary reports. People vying for prestigious internships and hoping to make bank while building career experience should take note of these 15 companies.

15. ConocoPhillips
Industry: Energy
Headquarters: Houston, Texas
Average intern pay: $5,357

14. Adobe
Software
San Jose, Calif.
$5,409

13. Chevron
Energy
San Ramon, Calif.
$5,424

12. Nvidia
Technology
Santa Clara, Calif.
$5,446

11. Amazon
E-commerce
Seattle, Wash.
$5,631

10. Apple
Technology and software
Cupertino, Calif.
$5,723

9. Google
Internet services and products
Mountain View, Calif.
$5,969

8. ExxonMobil
Oil and gas
Irving, Texas
$5,972

7. eBay
E-commerce
San Jose, Calif.
$6,126

6. Microsoft
Software and technology
Redmond, Wash.
$6,138

5. Facebook
Social networking
Menlo Park, Calif.
$6,213

4. LinkedIn
Social networking
Mountain View, Calif.
$6,230

3. Twitter
Social networking
San Francisco, Calif.
$6,791

2. VMware
Software
Palo Alto, Calif.
$6,966

1. Palantir
Software
Palo Alto, Calif.
$7,012

If those figures are indicative of full-time earnings, these interns shouldn’t have too much trouble paying off any student loans they take out. Earning potential has a huge impact on the affordability of college, because if your career doesn’t exceed the worth of the education you financed to get there, you are at risk for debt and credit problems.

At the same time, you don’t need a lucrative internship to have a successful and fruitful work life. As you start your career and take charge of your finances, make a habit of checking your credit reports and credit scores so you know how your financial behaviors impact your credit standing. You can review your credit data for free through Credit.com.

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