The Intern In An Office of Eight


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.

PROS

  • 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

CONS

  • 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.

Emily Jaffe

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5 Responses to The Intern In An Office of Eight

  1. lizazevedo says:

    Emily, I like that you listed the pros and cons of working in a startup because, as someone who has never worked in a startup, I found your points to be very educational. I wouldn’t have thought about the fact that you are basically purchasing your own work materials out of your own salary and I hadn’t thought about the fact that having such a small, new office would mean that you hardly got mentoring. That being said, what a great way to jump into a company and prove your worth! I like my internship at my firm a lot, but I am envious of your constantly changing work days and new projects. This internship sounds like a fantastic way to learn all the aspects of launching a startup and these skills could be invaluable for your future career, my entrepreneur friend.

  2. Emily, I couldn’t agree more with everything you said. Right now I am in somewhat of a odd position because I am working on both ends of this spectrum all at once. I found that knowing everyone you work with and working closely with them is something I love. Sometimes I feel like in a busy news room I get lost amongst the million reporters and other interns and need to tred water so I don’t drown. But then there is the whole saying “no” thing that you adressed earlier. I guess I never realized just how small your company was. No wonder saying no took practice!

  3. cmckee2 says:

    I’ve had many of the same experiences with the internships I’ve worked at. While I’ve found my work to be mostly enjoyable, part of me wants to have the experience of working at a larger firm, if only for the comparison. Clearly not every experience is for everyone, though. It’s good that you get to have such insight with your internships and that you’ll have a greater understanding of where you want to work in the future.

  4. Emily, I’ve had similar experiences interning for a startup in the past and although you may have to put in more effort to teach yourself instead of being taught, you have a huge opportunity to become a truly independent worker capable of the things experienced pros are paid for. It’s always good to assess which type of company works best with your personality, so I like that you made a list. I’m glad we have these internships early on to help us learn what kind of work we want to be doing and with whom.

  5. sarahbrown90 says:

    With all of my internships I have dealt with the same exact thing. I have personally found it to be a great experience because like you said, you are able to work closely with your boss and it is much less intimidating. You are also able to make better connections with the people you work with and are able to network much better because of those relationships made. I am currently interning in an office of four; myself, one other intern, and then the two women who work there. I’m definitely ready to try out a larger agency to see what it is all about, but I have enjoyed every minute of having the opportunity to work for a smaller agency and be able to work on so many different things.

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