When it is time to apply for internships, it is very easy to get caught up in the idea of working for a big company. The idea of working for a big name seems like a goal that every student has these days. The truth is, even though a job at these companies would be a dream come true for many, the amount of real work that gets done by interns is limited. Since they are already so well established, there are very strict limitations on what interns do. The most learning happens when you get your hands dirty solving real problems with cutting edge technology. The best place to get an experience like that is at an early to a mid-stage startup company.
Here are some reasons why you might want your next internship to be at a startup company.
You get to wear many hats
The majority of learning happens when you are forced to solve problems in domains that you have no prior experience in. Your job title at a startup company is only a very vague description of what your day-to-day will be. Unlike in a large company where your role’s responsibilities are etched in stone, at a startup, you will be expected to be able to expand your knowledge and tackle problems in all different areas. Since startups have small teams, they simply do not have the resources to have a dedicated team for each problem, or product. Everyone has a hand in everything. Everything from marketing to UX/UI design to writing code. As an intern, you will be expected to be able to learn what needs to be learned and apply it. By doing so you will greatly expand your understanding of the product development cycle by being able to see and have a hand in, the entire process. Early in your career, having experience in all parts of the development process helps you to stand out in future job interviews.
You get to do real work and have a real impact
Startup companies do not have the time to create meaningless work for their interns to do. As an intern at a startup, you will hit the ground running and make a direct impact on the real product being shipped to clients. This is in contrast to a big-name company where much of your work will have no real impact on the company’s products. When your internship is over you will be able to look back on your experience and see the work you have done having a real impact on people. That not only feels good but is also another huge resume booster. Instead of describing what you have done in your next interview, you will be able to show them the exact bit of the product that you had a part in developing. That is a powerful thing.
You will work with a tight-knit team
Due to the lack of resources that a startup company has, the teams are usually very small and tight-knit. Everyone is willing to help out where they can because they know that the success of the company rests on their shoulders. As a member of this team, you will also share that responsibility with the rest of the employees. This will, inevitably, cause you to form many valuable professional relationships that can prove useful to you in the future. It will also give you valuable real-world experience working on a team that is developing a real product.
It might be your only option
If you are, for example, a freshman applying for an internship (if you are, go you!) then your chances of getting an internship at a big name company are slim, to say the least. Even if you aren’t, the odds are not really in your favor without a contact inside the company or an exceptional resume. Those large companies get so many applications every year that it is very easy for your application to slip through the cracks. Even if you are an exceptional developer, designer, or sysadmin, sometimes it can come down to where you went to school and what your GPA is. That’s the unfortunate truth, but you should not let it discourage you. If you are having trouble finding an internship at a large company, a startup company might be a better option. Startup companies normally do not have a huge amount of people applying to them. This means that your chances of getting an internship grow greatly.
If you are applying to internships this summer, then don’t discount the startups. If nothing else, maybe you’ll realize the fast pace isn’t for you and will help you narrow your focus more for your future career.
If you are looking to find startup internships in your area, be sure to check out We Intern Tech (https://weintern.tech) an internship job board for people looking for internships in technology. New internships are posted daily. You can even subscribe to our mailing list to receive a weekly digest of the internships available in your specific field.