9 Reasons Why You Should Intern at a Start-up

Considering non-existing pay and an unknown brand name, will you choose an internship with a start-up over an opportunity with a prestigious corporate big-name?

Small, nimble start-ups are everywhere, and for good reasons. In fact, they share many things in common with interns. They are both at the start of their own journeys, as they embark on learning, exploring, and harnessing a beautiful ambition. So, if these small ventures can take the plunge in pursuing ground-breaking work, why not have the confidence to grow together with them? These guys choose to do something they actually enjoy. And by your short stint with them, you can also get a taste of that experience. 

Here are 9 reasons why you should consider an internship at a start-up:

1. Assume Real-World Responsibilities

A start-up team is lean, and every help they can get is valuable. So, you definitely will not just be making the coffee. You will have real-world responsibilities right from the start of your internship, participating in projects where your contribution can be impactful. The host of real-world experience you gain in such a short time will be hard to get anywhere else. Later on, whilst your peers will have to reference student groups and extra-curricular activities to frame their leadership and accountability qualities in their CVs and interviews, you get to talk about the real work you have done.

2. Develop A Wide Skill Set

Your work will be varied. One moment you could be drawing up marketing plans, and in the next, you could be conducting a job interview. It is not unusual to close a business deal and firefight a crisis in a single workday. It may be hectic, but the learning potential for a start-up intern is uncapped. You get to try out the different business functions and develop an array of transferrable skills for your future career. 

3. Meet Everyone 

In a big corporate firm, you will likely only interact with people in your department, including fellow interns, and you will probably never get to meet the senior executives. Whereas in a start-up, the whole company is one big team. Everyone knows everyone, and there is no hierarchy. You will have access to the CEO, co-founders, and many other knowledgeable team members whom you will work closely with and learn directly from them. You may even go for lunch breaks and get off work with your boss. With little or no division between teams, the many different perspectives in a room can bring novel ideas. Who wouldn’t want to be part of an innovation’s pioneering team? 

4. You Are Important

Interns are treated equally as important as any other employee in a start-up. All ideas and opinions get a place on the brainstorming board, and everyone is kept in the loop of the company’s progress. Because it is a small team, your performance will be highly visible. If you make a mistake, it can be easily seen, and your colleagues will give you direct feedback for you to learn and improve quickly. In the same way, your contributions and achievements will not go unnoticed. Another great thing is that—in a start-up culture, everyone is open to learning from one another, even from an intern.

5. Grow Your Professional Network

Besides your colleagues, you get to work directly with clients, gaining valuable connections you may call upon in the future. It is also common for start-up internships to become permanent positions. So, if all goes well, you may end your internship stint with a job. 

6. Gain Insights on How to Run a Company

You will gain exposure to almost all business functions and witness how the start-up works from scratch rather than on a pre-established platform. If you are unsure about what you want to do and would like to explore multiple paths, this can be an ideal arrangement. But even if you already know what you want to do, understanding a bit of every function can make you an effective collaborator. If you plan to start your own business, working as an intern in a start-up will give you all the experience you need.

7. Informal Casual Culture

When we think start-ups, we imagine super-motivated people creating new things as a team, walking around an open office space, and attending meetings in jeans and sneakers. That is probably about right but make no mistake that it is also a very hardworking environment. If an informal business casual setting is where you think you can thrive, try a start-up internship to confirm it. With a potentially smaller age gap between you and your colleagues, it is also possible that you can discuss your favourite Netflix program or yesterday’s football game with them whilst learning from them.

8. It’s Exhilarating

Start-ups are incredibly fast-paced, and the experience will be a steep learning curve for interns. A lot of things can happen in a day. The business can progress a milestone or go sideways and even backwards to get back on top—like a game. There is no such thing as complete certainty anywhere. And then, there is also the fun side. Start-ups are known for a culture to “enjoy work”, engaging their employees by offering a plethora of fun activities at work, including the provision of indoor games, movies, hobby classes, and team outings. With all the thrills and frills, the wild world of a start-up may just be the perfect inspiration to fuel your career ambitions. 

9. Higher Chance of Securing Internship

There is lesser competition for an internship spot with start-ups compared to prestigious corporate big names. Start-ups are more flexible in their candidate selection in terms of academic requirements, as they focus on the candidate’s ability to execute various tasks efficiently. They are also less rigid in their internship period, application window, and interview process. 

It is more than just fun, and there is so much to learn. You will never forget your internship experience. But the start-up world is not for everyone. Ultimately, where you decide to intern should fit your personality and career goals. Consider all these the next time you seek an internship. We wish you all the best!

Learn more about choosing between corporate and start-up and finding the right fit based on your personality, priorities, and preferred work environment.