So, right now you’ve probably applied for a long list of internships with some of the world’s leading companies, just like thousands of your peers. There are many reasons why getting an internship in a well-known organisation is a brilliant start to your career. Not only will it look amazing on your CV, but bigger organisations can offer a whole load of other benefits – such as exciting locations, a structured environment and training programs, a team of interns your own age to work with, subsidised canteens and gyms, and sometimes even a salary that’s not far off the national graduate average.
Sounds exciting, right? But have you considered applying for internships at different types of companies, such as a start-up, for example? Applying for an internship in a start-up might not have been your first thought, which is why this guide has been put together: to give you insight into another option that is available to you and to explain why a start-up internship might be a better choice. Here are 7 reasons to intern for a startup.
1. You’ll have a better chance of securing the internship
Every student and their cousin will be applying for an internship in a large company, and even though there will be plenty of internship spaces, that’s still a lot of people! As not many people consider applying for an internship in a start-up, you will already have less competition and more of a chance of securing the spot. Generally, his is not because the experience at a start-up is inferior to experience at a large company, but because not many students are aware of them. Not only that, but start-ups have a whole different culture to large companies, who usually have their ideal intern in mind. Start-ups, however, are more flexible with their candidate selection, and if you make the right impression with what you have to offer, your chances are higher of getting that coveted spot.
2. You’ll have more responsibility
As mentioned before, an internship in a large well-known organisation can give you lots of benefits, but what will you actually be doing day-to-day? In a start-up, all time and resources are extremely valuable, which means that there’s a high chance that you’ll be working on real projects from day one. This might sound a little scary, but working with a team to produce actual results will give you a lot of insight into and real experience with how projects are completed. Being part of a team will give you the confidence to take on new projects and just run with them. This experience will be invaluable and give you the extra edge you need when applying for your first job, as many people with internships in big companies will not have this real-life experience.
3. You’ll learn how organisations work
Working as an intern for a big company often limits your exposure to all business functions, since you are usually just set tasks around a certain business area, and with hundreds of other interns and thousands of employees, the chance of this changing is low. So, you will end up your internship with great knowledge of that business function but not much else. However, in a start-up, this is certainly not the case.
Start-ups usually have smaller teams, so you will be in the middle of all the action and experience pretty much all business functions that the company performs, giving you the big picture, which is often not possible at a large company. Another great thing about start-ups is that they like to keep all employees in the loop to encourage everyone to actively share ideas and feedback, so you’ll be involved in discussions that should ultimately make positive changes to the company. This is perfect if you are unsure about what you want to do in the future, as you’ll get plenty of experience trying out different tasks.
4. You’ll get more feedback
With all these responsibilities and being able to work in different job functions, you will get valuable feedback on the work you’ve done. Getting feedback from your peers at a start-up will be a lot easier than getting it in larger companies. This is because you will work more closely with senior colleagues at a start-up and be able to build a better relationship with them. This is great because you can get a real idea of what you are naturally good at and passionate about when applying for your first role.
5. You’ll experience a different type of work culture
Rather than working in an office with hundreds of cubicles while wearing full business attire, start-ups tend to be a little open. Often, you’ll come to find that start-ups will usually opt for business casual and will tend to have an open office space environment, such a big round table where everyone works together. This is often not the case for a corporate office, where there tend to be more individual desks and cubicles with less room for an open environment. We do note that neither type of work culture is wrong per se, but rather it will come down to your preference. Choose an environment in which you will be comfortable being a part.
6. You’ll interact with other employees and not just your intern cohort
The social experience between a start-up and a corporation is often different from one another as well. In a corporation, you’ll find that you are not the only intern, but rather one of many. Corporations usually plan out your internship there with various social events, which means you’ll mostly be working and hanging out with other interns and less with full-time employees. Though this is not necessarily bad, it does limit you from interacting and networking with people already working in a position you hope to one day have yourself. In a start-up environment, there are usually fewer interns, which means your daily interactions will be with full-time employees.
The benefit to this is that you will get more insight and advice from those who are currently working in your field, and you will also be creating a valuable network that you may one day be able to call upon. Though the idea of working with full-time staff can sound daunting, don’t be afraid to chat with them about their experiences. You may find their experience and your work relationship with them to be a valuable tool in the future.
7. You’ll have a more informal hiring experience
Just to clarify, we don’t mean that your hiring experience will be any less professional than a corporation. For corporations, you will see that there is usually a fixed internship period, application window, and a rigid interview process, often with multiple rounds. Further, they tend to have strict academic requirements, such as the type of universities they hire from, certain GPA minimums, and/or specific majors. This often eliminates many people from the process.
However, in a start-up, you will find that there tends to be more flexible and most of them will hire regularly throughout the year rather than during a certain timeframe. The interview process itself is often less rigorous, both in the number of rounds and also in the type of candidate they are looking to hire. Rather than looking at academic history, start-ups will focus more on your ability to execute various tasks efficiently.
As you can gather from this guide, there is more than one option when it comes to working as an intern. The biggest differences between a start-up and a corporation are their working environment and the type of work you can do. So, ultimately deciding on which one to choose is down to which one better fits your personality and career goals. Getting an internship in a big corporation is perfect if you want to work with some of the world’s largest companies in the future and work your way to the top of those businesses. However, if your career goals are to really get stuck in with a company, help a business grow from the bottom up, or even start your own business, working as an intern in a start-up will give you all the experience you will need.
Have you started applying for internships? It would be really interesting to hear about your experiences, and which type of corporations you have been applying with. Leave your feedback below.
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