As a third-year undergraduate, I had witnessed hundreds of my peers who share mixed notions of working in startups and Fortune 100 companies. Countless of them believe that adding work experience from big-shot corporations to their resumes might guarantee an exemplary job after graduating. However, choosing between an internship at either a multinational firm or a startup is an idiosyncratic decision. Both paths have their benefits, so it goes down to us students to test drive a vehicle while trying to be assured that we chose the right one!
I had a rewarding experience working in a startup, albeit it comes with some goods and bads. Having had the chance to try both banking and the startup world, I believe there are individual lessons to be learned from each environment in terms of career growth. A startup might not be able to defy the perception and prestige of Wall Street companies. However, in my opinion, anyone could learn exponentially more, depending on how posthaste they are to seize opportunities around them.
In a startup environment, I managed to get an insider’s look into the company daily. Often, I had breakfast with the company’s founder and was treated coffee! Startup people are a tight-knit community– my colleagues, and I learned from each other’s mistakes and achievements. Lending a hand to others is crucial as everyone needs to help each other out to ensure sustainable growth for the company. Once, I was asked to do two opposing tasks that were notably challenging, and I was thrilled to take on the duties to acclimatise myself to the culture.
Startups are an exceptional place to intern as the managers will expect us to contribute to company growth right from day one. Often, I was taking on contemporaneous roles from various departments daily. Juggling several responsibilities have helped me to build a vast range of transferable skills, from organisational to analytical skills, and so forth. This ad-hoc shifting of functions also helped me to acclimatise to the continuous changes in workload. When the time comes for us to embark on our graduate journey, this invaluable experience will have shaped us to be more competent than our equals.
Interns gain the prospect to witness the expansion and development of a company and how the company’s strategies are developed. This observation was especially apparent to me when I compared my experience in a startup environment to a well-settled company: I have never been able to make contact with the CEO in a corporate environment even after my umpteenth attempt! Personally, I believe this observational learning can impart lifelong lessons to some. For example, they might be able to create novel ideas which serve as a practical starting point for their own business in the future. I am definitely not a veteran in market strategies or entrepreneurship, however, interning at a startup has opened my eyes to expand my horizons.
In summary, interning at a startup has moulded me with an aggregation of skills, and I believe that these skills are invaluable for any industries. Having industrial experience, no matter what the position is, will definitely land undergraduates in good stead when hunting for a graduate job and propelling their career journey. My startup experience has some distinct benefits, but it’s up to us to choose something pertinent that aligns with our interests and abilities.