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8 Reasons to do an Internship at a Start-Up or SME

Tara Sallis

Doing an internship can be a great way to get a feel for the sector you are interested in. With students who have done internships three times more likely to get the top jobs, it is definitely worth trying to get some experience.

In recent years, a growing awareness has developed of the benefits of being part of a smaller team. These include the ability to really make an impact on the business, the high levels of responsibility given from an early stage the development of a wide skill set to name a few. Here are our top 8 reasons why we think you should consider doing an internship at a start-up or SME:

1. You’ll get an idea of the variety of roles on offer

At a start-up or smaller company you are likely to get an insight into how the organisation works as a whole, as well as just what someone with your role does. Instead of being in a team of people doing the same role as you, you are much more likely to meet and work with people who are doing lots of different tasks and be exposed to different parts of the company. Most likely, especially if you ask, you will have the chance to work in multiple roles if you take an opportunity at a start-up or SME.

2. You’ll be doing impactful work

Start-ups and SMEs can be a great place to get really meaningful experience, rather than spending your time doing tasks that are only set to keep you busy. Especially at start-ups where new ideas and products will still be under discussion, your contributions can be really impactful, making your experience as an intern much more rewarding and fun. You definitely won’t just be making the coffee! Internships often last a few months so you do not want to be doing boring work!

3. You’ll learn new skills

Because you will be working with a smaller team and you will hopefully be very involved with their work, you will end up learning a lot! You might be taught some new skills, such as how to use particular software, or asked to work on a project in an area of business you haven’t tackled before. If you want to know whether or not you will be able to get some experience in a particular part of the business, you can always ask before the internship, or whilst you are there, and your employer might be able to tailor the role to you!

4. It’s an exciting environment to be a part of

Start-ups and SMEs are fast-paced and often are still evolving and growing. Being involved as an intern can be a great experience because you get to watch the business change even over the duration of a short internship. You will be involved with new projects and ideas, meaning that your work will be varied as the business requires you to take on new responsibilities.

5. Your new contacts will be valuable

You will get to know your colleagues really well. You will work with them every day, they will teach you new skills, and you will usually be invited to all the company lunches or after work drinks. The contacts you make during your internship will be strong and very valuable because the people you meet might be able to give you more opportunities. It is also common for internships to become permanent positions, so if it goes well, you may end your internship with a job! Start-ups and SMEs are often pools of up and coming talent, so getting to know the people you work with will give you a brilliant network for the future.

6. Your work quality will improve fast

Unlike at a bigger company where your work can more easily be overlooked, in a smaller organisation everyone’s work is essential and your supervisor will see, and evaluate your work. This means you are far more likely to get personal feedback on what you have done allowing you to make changes and improve over the course of your internship.

7. You’ll learn about a different way of working

Smaller working environments can be very different from big companies, and often a smaller business is run and structured differently. Even if, when you have completed your internship, you decide that working at an SME or start-up is not your ambition, you will still have learnt a lot about the ideas and approaches of the company and you can take this forward to future roles. This will give you a more interesting and potentially innovative mindset when it comes to business that will prove very valuable in any job you take.

8. You’ll get a real insight

Whether you are interested in starting your own business, or you want to work in the fast-paced environment of a start-up or SME, doing an internship in these types of businesses can be a brilliant way to get the skills and insight that you will need. Having experience in a startup or SME will teach you about the culture of these organisations, how they work, and what sort of candidates they are looking for – this will give you a head start if you choose to apply for graduate jobs at similar companies!