Undergraduate Blog / Career Development

Why Startups are Ideal for Nurturing Young Minds

Working from the roof

The Intern Life

Internships are a dime a dozen. Students scour the web for months applying to dozens of companies in hope of landing a coveted position. After a grueling search and many interviews, I landed an internship at Evol8tion, based in New York. Here are three reasons I love working at a startup.

You have the freedom to learn. Many internships for large companies begin with standard training for every intern. Startups don’t have that luxury, but I believe that that is in our advantage. Rather than getting trained in a room with a crowd of interns, you get one on one mentorship by team members. Being able to work side by side experienced professionals on a daily basis can teach better than a slide show and a lecture. You learn how they think, why they make the decisions they do, and how to interact with co-workers.

Do to the nature of startups, intern’s complete tasks that have a greater impact on the organization. Startups are by no means financially secure, so they would not invest time or money in interns who can’t make an immediate difference in the company, even if it’s only on a small scale. You could be writing code or content, analyzing data, or pitching new ideas- startup interns get the benefit of being treated as employees.

Your culture is exclusive. At a startup, especially in the early stages, cultures can vary greatly. The fluidity makes for a unique environment. Startup interns have unique opportunities because early stage companies don’t have the funds for beautiful work spaces. Work environments can range from an old garage, a local coffee shop, a co-working space, or a cramped office with few amenities. As an intern, you could spend a day working from a New York City rooftop and no one will blink an eye, as long as your work gets done. Plus, many startups don’t have dress codes, so dressing comfortably takes precedence over any formalities.

You can visit large companies around the country and see the standard workplace arrangement. Executives and managers get offices, while the rest of the company sits in cubicles (though this is slowly starting to change.) Startups are different. There is usually something unique about each one. Whether it be that everyone works on bean bags instead of desks, the founders sit alongside interns, or the whole company literally lives together. Startup culture is uniquely connected to each company until it grows too large to efficiently complete keep the culture. In the early days, it is truly a family, one of a kind.

You can see the top of the ladder. Roles at early stage companies are flexible. You might be an engineer, but you may be called upon to manage teams, recruit new talent, create content, or secure investment. Everyone does a bit of everything until the job is complete. This gives intern’s an unprecedented look under the hood of how a company works. Your work can shift on a daily basis and your skill set improves every week.

At early stage companies, interns have more interaction with executive level personnel (at the top of the ladder). They let you sit in on meetings and get an overview of the business you will never get at a large company. Even if you are only around them for small periods of time, simply understanding why they make certain decisions can teach you a lot.

As an intern, you go through the highs and lows of the startup life as if you founded the company yourself. You are treated as a team member and expected to perform like one. The startup life is not for everyone, but it is the perfect place for me… and hopefully you too!

“Good writing does not succeed or fail on the strength of its ability to persuade. It succeeds or fails on the strength of its ability to engage you, to make you think, to give you a glimpse into someone else’s head.”
Malcolm Gladwell, What the Dog Saw and Other Adventures

This post is part of the Looksharp Internship Blog Competition. To read more about the competition and view other posts go here.