Balancing a Start-up and an Internship
As a student entrepreneur, I realized that it’s easy to get wrapped up in your start-up over the summer — unless you have an internship. My experience at Growth Africa Capital this summer was a great example of just how hard juggling a start-up and having a full-time job is.
While this (summer) day job may be taking up your precious time that might be better spent working on your start-up, it’s important to make the most out of this endeavor too. After all, business and entrepreneurship lessons come to you as an employee too.
Here are the four things I focused on as I tried to make the most out of my internship:
1. Chase the experience not the money. Focusing all your goals on just the financial aspect of your summer shows a certain poverty of ambition. Big pay checks more often than not come with long excruciating hours, huge responsibilities and hardly any time to actually focus on the necessary things you need to do to take your startup to the next level.
Last summer I made this mistake and I spent the majority of my out-of-office time trying to clear my head through a variety of recreational activities that ended up taking away a lot more time from my startups. As a founder, there is still so much you can learn about your chosen field, and focusing on how much experience you can get in the industry is probably the best deal. Plus, enjoying your day-time activities can provide an energy boost to help you accomplish whatever you need for your venture, after office hours.
2. Make friends, but focus on building a network. Networking is an essential part of building any company. Interact with as many people in the office as you can, ask questions and be genuine with your interest and pursuit of information. Chances are that the majority of people you interact with at the office will be more experienced in the industry than you, and even if they aren’t, you can at least go home with ideas on how to improve your startup. Networking and not burning your bridges is eventually what seals the deal for many startups. And no matter how good your business model looks on a paper, a human being will eventually be the one to write that check.
3. Don’t waste your evenings. In the same way that it becomes increasingly difficult to manage your startup during the school year, poor time management during your internship period can have you in the same predicament. As a founder, you cannot afford to spend your days focusing on all your internship work and all your evenings hanging out at restaurants and lounges with your co-workers. Taking a break is fine, but it’s imperative that your evenings are just as productive as your days in order to allow you to be as efficient as you are in the AM.
4. Stick to your goals. Not all of your goals will materialize, and sometimes even the best-laid plans can have some serious drawbacks. It’s important to keep in mind that despite the difficulties, as long as you keep the end goal in sight, no problem is too difficult to solve. Do what you must to get them done. You were not crazy when you made these summer goals