In the U.S., approximately 543,000 new businesses are started each month, according to Forbes. New and experienced entrepreneurs alike eagerly look to make the jump from a small–time operation to being a household name, racking in as much profit as they can. Every business starts small. However, I feel as though these small businesses and startups are looked down upon when students search for internship opportunities. As we all look to mark down any of those big Fortune 500 companies onto our resumes, I suggest taking a step back and starting small.
I have worked for a few new startups, including Ashana Health and Total Home Manager, so far throughout my college career and each experience has been a different adventure. As an integrated marketing communications major, I love to think about how diverse my education has been so far with learning many of the ins and outs of the marketing and communications world. However, some of the most diverse learning I have ever done has been while on the job.
Being a part of startup companies requires you to wear a lot of different hats. Personally, I have done not only marketing, but also sales, analytics, finance and some accounting for the startups I have worked for. Being exposed to all of these crucial business functions has taught me so much about every aspect of business and has given me the chance to take on more responsibility. There is no better setting to get real–world exposure to the daily life of working in any business sector than working for a startup company.
On top of having more responsibility, startups offer you the chance to watch businesses grow. Being exposed to the groundwork and long hours that are put into getting a business off the ground and making it successful is a valuable experience. The startup I worked for this past summer, Ashana Health, was quite literally in the very beginnings of the business cycle. When I signed on, the company’s logo had just been finalized. Between that day and my return to school, the company had launched its website and had begun testing and actively looking for partners to join its pilot program. Within three months, the business went from barely having a logo to an active, online and recognizable brand. Being a part of that growth taught me just how quickly the business world moves and the opportunities that startups offer.
Opportunities are endless with startups as they are always looking for help. I think I can speak for a lot of people when I say that as an upperclassman in college, now is about the time where we all start freaking out about landing that stellar internship for the upcoming summer months. Much of this stress is caused by the desire of many students to compete with hundreds, if not thousands, of other well-qualified students for limited positions at big companies. Many big companies can make the intern experience more of a competition to impress. Due to this, a lot of interns miss out on valuable experiences. These bigger companies also show how bureaucracy can play a role in your experience as an intern. Because of the size of the organization and the tasks you are given, you may feel as though you are not doing the amount of work you are capable of doing. Why stress over this when there are always new and promising businesses looking for help? There are always opportunities with startups, and they can offer a lot to interns, whether it be more responsibility or more meaningful work.
My advice: look small before planning big. Doing research can help you decide what size company is best for you. You may value having a big name on your resume or you may like being valued more at a smaller company. Before you start applying to big companies, just remember that startups offer hands–on experience in every aspect of business; you see the business grow and there are always opportunities with them.