Undergraduate Blog / Career Development

One Thing About Working In A Startup

I think I have this thing called startup fetish. I always love working in a startup because I think I am more suitable to work in an energetic, fast-moving and open environment of a startup. Basically, that “stay-foolish-stay-hungry” style in a startup excites me. What I have come to realize over this summer is that, when you apply for an internship in a startup, your job description doesn’t really matter. And why is that? Well it is because you will get your hands on basically everything.

Over this summer, I interned for two startups in two different industries. One is an online recruitment platform and one is a F&B startup. Both of them have been in the market for around 5-6 years. In the first company, I interned as a research analyst. During the first few days, I spent time learning about the company, how it works, and looked at its internal system.

Soon, I got bored.

You know how crazy it is in a startup, as your boss is always busy having meeting outside, barely present in the office to directly train you, and sometimes just as clueless as you are about what you should do. At one point, it hit me that I am in a START-UP, meaning that I have to learn how to be flexible and embrace that entrepreneurial spirit.

I did not wait for any task to be assigned anymore, but rather looking for it. I started looking closer at the company’s data, sales report, customer feedback, and realized some problems that have been overlooked. For example, I noticed how the company got customer feedback but have yet done anything about it, how the pricing is affecting customers’ behavior, or how redundant information in our website is decreasing our sales. I talked about these problems with my boss, proposed different projects to be implemented, and asked for direction and support that I could find within the company. Soon enough, I got myself involved in different tasks from leads researching, event-planning, doing customer surveys, to building in-bound marketing strategy.

At the end of the day, I realized that working in a startup means you literally have to take initiatives in everything, because the experience can either be rewarding or disappointing, depending on how you want it to be. In big corporations, they often have a training program for new interns before they assign you with any specific task. This is not what is gonna happen in a startup (well maybe not 100% of them, but for the majority). No one is gonna tell you exactly what you will do. You have to observe, learn, ask, always get ready to try new things, and keep telling yourself that “asking questions doesn’t mean you are dumb”.

What I love about working in a startup is that you can put yourself in different challenges and learn a lot of new things that are never written in your job description. After my first internship, I worked as a branding intern for another F&B company. I soon noticed the same problems that this startup is having, and it is so interesting because I started to realize the same pattern and mistakes that growing startups seem to make. But perhaps I will save it for another blog.

In short, working for startups can be tricky. If you want to get a great experience out of working with a startup, you have to take initiatives and look for problems to solve. I mean, that’s what an entrepreneurial spirit is about, isn’t it.