Undergraduate Blog / Career Development

Ways to Take Initiative at a Startup

One of the biggest benefits of working at a startup is the large amount of responsibility you can get. Unlike at corporate companies, interns at early-stage startups usually have direct access to company leadership, work on a variety of projects, and produce work that has a direct impact on company culture/performance. The structure of early-stage startups foster an environment that makes it easier to stand out and make an impact. However, in order to make an impact you need to take initiative, which can be hard to do anywhere you are. Here are a couple ways I approach taking initiative at my startup internship.  

Ask questions:

Asking questions shows that you are engaged in your work and can lead to important conversations with your supervisor. Gaining a better understanding of your deliverables by asking questions also improves the quality of your work and shows that care about your work. However, be mindful of the questions you ask. Never ask questions that could be resolved through a simple google search.

Go the extra mile on deliverables:

If you have the time and energy, try to over-deliver on your deliverables. Doing so demonstrates many positive qualities such as your work ethic, your desire to learn, and maturity. Through over-delivering, your supervisor might trust you with more important work for the next deliverable and generally give you more responsibility. 

Don’t be afraid to give feedback:

Communication is key for building a great relationship with your colleagues. Periodically offering your thoughts on how the startup is progressing is a great way to show your involvement and commitment to your company. Reflecting and providing feedback to your supervisor after you submit a deliverable is another great way to go about this. 

Network with the rest of your team:

Get to know the rest of your startup team! If you are on the sales and marketing side, you might want to connect with people on the development or product side. Building these relationships shows your commitment and is a great way to pick up tasks that relate to a different aspect of the startup.

Offer to do a task:

This is the classic way to take initiative at a startup, and for good reason. The best way to stand out and make an impact at any startup is to put yourself out there and offer your own solutions to problems you see. Not only will you impress your supervisor, but you will also be able to learn a lot!