Why I’m choosing entrepreneurship over an internship this summer

Obligatory stock photo from Unsplash

Is the risky choice always the right choice?

I just finished my third year of university. I study computer science at the University of Strathclyde, and damn (Daniel), has it been a slog. From the endless assignments, to the 3 in the morning coding sessions to try and make a pinball clone run as sweetly as possible, I can safely say that I am looking forward to a few months away from anything with the word Java in it.

But as I start my summer, I will spend my days very differently compared to a lot of my fellow students. Third year is atypically the year for internships. It’s when the big institutions like J.P. Morgan and Morgan Stanley come scuttling along, dangling a pay check and a wealth of experience, in exchange for your next 3 months. Lots of people think that this is the best way about securing yourself a job, and in some industries, it is. But for where I want to be, tech startups, eCommerce and building brands, I’m just not seeing the right opportunities.

These big companies do, however also offer free pizza to those who show up to their introductory meetings, which can be very tempting. I’m happy to say that a lot of my friends successfully got themselves a 3 or 12 month internship, and will be a great deal more “work ready” than me when it comes to graduate jobs next year!

Me? I’ve decided against an internship. I’ve spent the past 2 years of my life running a business “when I was finished studying” or “after work on Sunday night”. Any startup founder who has been remotely successful will tell you that running a business is no part time job, and this summer, I’m getting ready to plunge in to the big bad world that is being a full time business owner.

Not so subtle promotion for The Retro Store

I’ve been running The Retro Store (in its current form) since January of 2014. In that time I’ve learned a hell of a lot, and the business has expanded and condensed in equal measure to the time I’ve been able to dedicate to it. Right now I am lucky enough to say that on top of giving myself some money to survive on, I am also able to hire an accountant to help me with all of the scary money stuff, and I’m about to bring in a dedicated marketing specialist. This isn’t the first time this has happened, but given my newly freed up schedule, I’m seriously excited to see how I can spend it best.

So the risk. It’s the key word of the tagline here. Will I spend my summer on a dead end idea? Maybe. But I have been working on it for over two years, and I truly believe that I can do something special with it. And if I can return to university at the start of fourth year, half as experienced to get a graduate job, I’ll be content.

But we all know what the real goal here is: If I can spend my summer making enough right decisions and have just a little bit of luck, I can grow The Retro Store into something truly special. And if I don’t, I will at least know where to find all of the pieces of the jigsaw, it’s just a matter of fitting them in the right way for my next idea.