Michelle Garcia-Guevara -- September 12th, 2020

Any college student will know that when it comes down to job hunting and interviews, arguably the #1 quality employers look for is previous experience.

According to Knouse, an employer uses the job experience section of any resume to compare the job titles, duties, and responsibilities of the jobs listed by the applicant with the requirements of the job to which the applicant is applying. The employer essentially is looking for an applicant whose past experiences meet the needs of the position in question.

Experience in the form of internships is the most common way students show they are qualified to employers, but for many, it can be difficult to choose where to intern. Among the dozens of questions, we hear students ask, the one we most often hear is: should I intern at a startup company?

Although the answer can vary on a case by case basis, here are 4 compelling reasons to intern at a startup as a college student.

Significant Responsibilities

Because startups are usually companies with few employees when employers hire interns they have in mind people who will do more than just work on one concentrated project. Interning at a startup will mean that you will be given greater responsibilities, sometimes equivalent to that of a full-time employee. Through this unique experience, you will have multiple projects and milestones that you can take ownership of.

The work that you do will have a visible impact on the company which can be excellent for resume building.

A startup is a perfect place to develop leadership skills such as effective communication, teamwork, and time management because in some cases you may even grow to have other employees working under you. In comparison to an established company, your role as an intern at a startup will not be strictly bounded and will allow you to explore several areas of expertise and quickly take on even more significant tasks.

Meaningful Connections

Working at a startup also allows you to make connections that may be more difficult to establish at a large organization. In a startup, you will likely have frequent contact with the CEO and the Executive Board along with the other employees.

These are usually highly ambitious and successful people who can provide excellent mentorship and recommendations for future ventures.

Employees at a startup are usually knowledgable in a variety of fields since they are responsible for vast areas of the companies operations. In other words, the same person who is responsible for handling a campaigning strategy may also be learning how to develop the companies website. This type of environment allows students to have the freedom to learn and grow alongside employers without having to face the communication gap between employees and management that usually comes with working at a large company.

Explore New Paths

According to the U.S. Department of Education, about one-third of students enrolled in bachelor’s degree programs changed majors, compared with 28 percent of those enrolled in associate’s degree programs. About 1 in 10 students changed majors more than once.

As such, college is the place where students can freely explore their interests. Interning at a startup can facilitate this process because roles at such an early stage are not clearly defined.

Employers at the startup stage are typically flexible in that they allow students to take on tasks that align with their interests.

For example, although you may come in as a Marketing intern, you might also be given tasks that may be considered Business Development, or Data Analysis. This can be a great opportunity for someone who would like to pursue entrepreneurship or is looking to work in an executive role in the future that requires having knowledge about the overall workings of a company. Overall, the intern will wear multiple hats and while the learning curve may be steep they will have a lot to show for it.

Greater Probability of Being Chosen

Another reason students should intern at a startup is that it is somewhat easier to get a position at a startup than a well-established company. Especially for a student who has not had many previous experiences to add to their resume, it can be difficult to obtain positions at large-scale companies like Google, Walmart, McKinsey & Company, etc. This does not by any chance mean that startups have lower expectations; these companies still require that students meet the necessary academic qualifications and demonstrate a level of leadership and independence through their previous experiences.

In fact, many students are simply unaware of available internship opportunities at startups.

As such the pool of applicants is much smaller, and there is a greater likelihood of being chosen for a position. From a company perspective, start-ups have a distinct culture to large companies, who usually have a model intern in mind by the time interviews roll around. Start-ups are more flexible with their candidate selection and are willing to work with an applicant as long as they leave the impression that they can handle the work given to them.

Ultimately, here at Seedstages, we believe that every student can benefit from interning with a startup.

Having the opportunity to help build a company up from its infancy and take ownership of that accomplishment is something that you cannot find working anywhere else. The environment created by a startup is one that allows students to develop both technical and interpersonal expertise. Regardless of current experience, working with a startup can be a great outlet to discover new interests and develop entrepreneurial skills. That is why we are committed to facilitating the hiring process and creating a platform where students can directly engage with startups and find internship opportunities.

Author’s Note: Hello, thank you for making it to the end of this article. My name is Michelle Garcia-Guevara and I am working as a Business Development Intern for Seedstages. I am also a Junior at Rice University double-majoring in Managerial Studies, Asian Studies, and minoring in Business. If you have any questions about startup internships or working with Seedstages you can connect with me on LinkedIn.

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