Why You Should Consider Interning at a Small Startup
While evaluating summer internship options, your preference will understandably lean toward large, well-established companies, especially multinationals. What you may fail to realize is that there is immense value in interning at a smaller company, especially when you’re just making an entry into the industry.
Working as an intern in a tech startup, for example, may not come with the top-brand recognition typically sought after by your friends in, say, finance. You will, however, gain valuable real-world experience from that internship that may otherwise be inaccessible as an intern in a big-name company.
Below are reasons that support the choice to work as an intern in an up-and-coming enterprise.
Time is a valuable resource in startups. All team members, including you, the intern, are critical to the company’s success. What this means is that your contribution to projects will have a palpable and likely immediate impact on customers.
Posting your first article to a website or pitching a product idea for the first time is certainly intimidating. All the same, you stand to learn a lot by pushing through your fears and grabbing hold of opportunities as an intern. Having critical projects under your belt is a huge plus when looking for a job after graduation.
Moreover, having real responsibilities cultivates within you a confidence that you can effectively handle new projects. Further down the line, when your friends are framing leadership in the context of group assignments in college in their cover letter, you can showcase real successful projects that you participated in.
Real-world lessons on how businesses operate
Getting in large multinationals often means your exposure covers only a very small portion of operations in which you’re directly involved. With numerous other interns and a multitude of employees, exposing yourself to every aspect of the business is next to impossible.
Conversely, it is almost impossible not to be involved in every part of the business in a startup, especially when it’s at its infancy stage. Whether it’s being within hearing shot of design debates and having a casual conversation with the head of marketing over lunch, being an intern at a startup means you’ll invariably participate or witness all business operations since everyone is kept in the loop at most startups.
Testing multiple paths
Still not sure what you want to do after you graduate? Well, exposure across various teams within a company helps you feel out various areas that interest you. For instance, if you’re an intern in a small digital marketing startup, you may find yourself researching keywords for the marketing department one day, and writing blog articles for the communications department the next day.
Furthermore, as an intern in a small startup, you can easily reach out to colleagues in other departments if you want to learn more about something you know little about. As an intern in the design department, for example, you can set up lunch with the head of engineering so you can learn more about that field.
Toni M. Kersey is a Seattle-based blogger, author and editor. In recent years, his work has been featured in various career and human resources websites where he writes on career-related topics including finding internships, switching jobs, etc.
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