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Why You Should Intern in a Start-Up

Every successful company began as a simple start-up. As university-level students, you have every opportunity to be a part of the growth and development of a future company by applying for internships. The small-scale structure of start-ups means that their work culture, hierarchy and job tasks will differ from the complex operations and management of mature businesses. Interning at a start-up will reward you with unique experiences and advantages to benefit your career path! A few pros that go with these internships include being exposed to more strategic decision making and creating more enriching contributions to the business’ mission. The flattened hierarchy and reduced formalities might even mean you’ll have more fun than a typical corporate internship.

Gain Real-World Experience

Interning at a start-up can offer you much more range in responsibilities to consolidate gaps in the workforce. You may just be entering the workforce but your job won’t just be crunching numbers and observing business discussions, instead, you will take on projects and tasks typically assigned to qualified professionals. There is a lot of room for self-learning and advanced coursework you’ll be expected to complete.

benefits of interning at a start-up

It is important to note that you, as an intern are no less significant than a permanent employee within a start-up. Your ideas and perspective are crucial to the growth of the business and will go a very long way, regardless of your position on the management hierarchy.

Develop your Entrepreneurial Skills

Start-up interns will be in direct communications with the empowering entrepreneurship and self-starter nature of the young business. By taking on this mentality and learning the ropes of how start-ups function, interns can apply this knowledge onto their personal projects and bring life to their own entrepreneurial ideas. This takes a talent of being resourceful and asking the internal team for feedback and constructive criticism, but in the long term, will serve them well in their career path.

start-up internship

Learn Cross-Departmental Skills

Unlike large multi-national companies with distinctive departments and separate management teams, start-ups operate with much more cross-team collaboration. Within small businesses, projects and discussions are open to all staff to deliver some input, to enrich their operating systems. This cross-team collaborative work is especially helpful to interns because it exposes you to high-level discussions about the financial, management, operations and marketing components within your start-up. By collating effort to bring teams together and enable cross-department teamwork, interns are able to work closely with professionals from a variety of fields and academic or professional backgrounds. This is a great networking opportunity for interns to cut across departments and work on new, unfamiliar tasks which can only develop your fieldwork knowledge. This collapsed hierarchical structure also entails the intern to work closely with the directorship or executive team, giving you rare glimpses into the senior decisions made at the top of the start-up organisation.

Increase Visibility of Your Contributions

As an intern, having highly regarded tasks assigned to you, makes you much more visible as a valuable team member to those at the top of the organisation. The extent of your responsibilities, combined with consistent collaborative work across departments is a very attractive quality to demonstrate to higher-ups. This is advantageous in plenty of ways! While you practice your industry skills, discussion and decision-making skills, you will also be heightening your reputation and appraisals within the industry.  The increased visibility upon your work is a unique benefit to interning at a start-up because being surrounded by such a tight-knit work community allows you to participate in more one-on-one mentoring sessions with your supervisor and opens a much more relaxed and casual feedback loop with your colleagues to help you improve your industry skills and knowledge. Unlike the management system in large companies, you’re more than just a number at a start-up- you will gain access to much more personalised and hands-on experiences! So take your time and show your passion for the work you do as an intern to truly shine amongst the staff, and you’ll make great impressions and expand your network consequently.

Refreshing Work Culture

It’s not to say that start-ups take their work less seriously than large corporate businesses, but start-ups typically have a stronger focus on fostering a fun and enjoyable work culture. You might see regular office events such as happy hour drinks at a local bar, office parties or Christmas dinners. This is all to ensure the staff remains happy, refreshed and well connected with one another to stimulate fresher ideas and discussions to improve the start-up. Interns are invited to all these social events to help them integrate into the workplace and help them gain better connections. You’re welcome to take part in fun activities and friendly competitions with your co-workers as a way to stay efficient, motivated and boost the overall business-wide collaboration. Doing your part as interns will include socialising! You’ll ultimately fuel your ambitions more by immersing yourself in the work culture and it’ll only further motivate you to achieve your career goals.

interning at a start-up

Opportunity for On-going Work

One of the most exciting aspects of interning at a start-up, aside from listing it on your resume, is being an attractive candidate for long term employment! With all the extra workload and transferable cross-department knowledge you picked up along the journey, you’ll have many more accomplishments and skills than perhaps an intern from an established multinational company. Your chance of landing a long-term employment contract is greater increased by how you are already familiar with the business, how it operates and its staff. After months of the placement, you’ve been trained up to be the right fit for their team by having the necessary key skills and insights and hence your employer is more inclined to offer you a future job with growth opportunities. Don’t forget, start-ups, if run effectively, are expected to grow and expand in the future, so your career journey with the start-up can only prosper in accordance to that potential. Nurturing a fond relationship with the start-up as an intern is highly advantageous!

Final Takeaways

There is a lot to be learnt from interning at a start-up, especially when you are finding your ‘in’ into the workforce. Engaging with a small business can be highly enriching because it offers a diverse array of opportunities including exposure to real-world experience and cross-department insight. Fostering a strong relationship with your colleagues also gives you access to consultations, impressive networks and long-term employment opportunities. Applying for internships may seem daunting, but trust us, you’ll find it to be one of the most rewarding experiences to kickstart your career journey!