All of the internship positions I have held in my college career have been at small companies or startups. Many of the students in my cohort work at larger firms with multiple interns, even an internship program in place. This brought to my attention the unique quality of my internships experiences thus far. There are advantages and disadvantages to only having a handful of coworkers.
I’m a visual person and a big fan of list making, so I’d like to separate out the pros and cons of interning at a startup.
- There are only a handful of names to learn on the first day.
- Your day-to-day job can change often; you will play many roles in the office.
- You get to work on multiple clients at a time and deal with clients directly.
- You don’t have to be scared to walk into the CEO’s office, you have daily interactions with him or her and know how he or she likes her coffee.
- In meetings, you are allowed to talk not just sit and listen.
- Casual dress code, casual office environment
- There’s isn’t usually a budget for office supplies, so you are stuck bringing in your own pens, your own paper, calling clients from your phone and bringing your computer to work everyday. (If you’re like me with an old computer that is barely still going, relying on this piece of junk at work is annoying. Also, making sure it’s clean enough for people to be looking over my shoulder all the time. You know, college students and computers…)
- You are the only intern and every employee wants to use you for one of his or her projects.
- There is not an established intern program for you and mentoring gets swept to the side when mounds of work come in.
- There is a lot of stress in the company to get deals, and all energy is focused on sealing new deals rather than organizing and maintaining the current projects.
Each of these pros and cons have been a learning experience for me. I am fortunate to have learned these lessons and found out the aspects of a smaller company so early on in my career. That being said, if these pros outweigh the cons for you and you have an entrepreneurial attitude, then looking at a position at a startup might be right for you.