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Opinion: Intern With A Startup

Beyond bitter cold and basketball season, there’s one thing second semester means to every college kid: it’s time to find an internship. This year as you send out the standard applications, make your rounds at the internship fair and feel out whatever connections you’re lucky enough to have, I encourage you to consider an internship with a startup company.

While they may not offer the name brand of a large corporation, startups offer an unparalleled opportunity to gain extensive experience. As new and budding companies, startups have much more fluid and flexible structures; an intern could easily work side by side with the CEO. According to the Associate Director for Employer Relations and Recruiting at the Career Center, Louis V. Gagliardi, “The physical space and work culture is often such that you can interact with the most senior leadership on a regular basis simply because they may be in the office next to you.”

Your work is more likely to be truly valuable and consequential than at a name brand company; startups do not have the means to belittle resources. Interns are usually just as valuable team members as chief executives. So rather than interning for the sake of interning, you could feel like you were truly contributing to the team and doing something productive beyond resume building.

A budding company requires all hands on deck; that means every employee will take on tasks of all different types, versus the more concentrated and often negligible intern projects at larger corporations. As Gagliardi explains, “Functional exposure can be beneficial in that it enables employees to develop a wider range of skills and do so in a shorter time.” You will gain experience in every aspect of running a company, rather than a single, focused part. This well-roundedness will be invaluable upon entering the workforce and will look great on a resume for years to come.

On top of it all, startups generally have a younger, more creative working environment. More flexibility, more ingenuity and more energy foster an exciting, bustling work environment. You will meet other college students and recent grads finding their way into the workforce and people with passions and ideas that will inspire you. Even better, you just might enjoy your summer!

Of course, there’s always the chance that your startup strikes it big, and all of a sudden your hard work and newfound connections pay off; startups are a high risk, high reward environment. At the very least, the struggles of a new startup will give you experience handling the setbacks and frustrations of the real business world.

If you’re even entertaining the idea, you should check out the BC Startup Fair on February 10th in the Heights Room, because really, what else will you be doing? There will be all sorts of opportunities for networking with entrepreneurs and organizations like Venture for America, who work to match you with the best-suited startups for your interests.

Startups give you the biggest bang for your buck in both the skills you will learn and the quality of the experience. If you’re looking for somewhere to intern this summer, a startup may just be the place for you.