If you’re reading this, chances are you’re college-age and looking for a summer spot. Understandably so, because internships are a great way for utilising your skills and apply some of what you’re learning. The leading draw is to learn and gain genuine work experience, whether it is in your field or outside of it.
In other words, you wish to make an impact instead of just ending up making coffee or getting a photocopy done.
To start off the hunt for an internship,you can begin by targeting the companies which attract you. It is also very important to consider the company and position as compared to your own career goals.
But more often than not, one finds oneself in the middle of two diverging roads. And here comes the big tricky question: Is it better to work for a larger company or a smaller company?
The answer lies in switching up this question a bit: which one is best suited for you? By looking at the pros and cons of each, it would be easier to ascertain what path you can follow depending upon your requirements and expectations from a given internship.
Industry leaders may also offer a recognizable “brand name” for your resume, even if it is a less important role. This can in turn prove to be a benefit for your future endeavours. When you work in a large organisation early in your career, you have a reference point of experience which many people can instantly relate to and get attracted to because of brand recognition. Therefore, aligning yourself in this way can deliver true benefits later in your career, no matter where you end up.
Mentorship and/or training can be a part of your experience here. Many start-up founders don’t tend to have time to train someone or constantly mentor them. And of course, there’s the opportunity to gain contacts.
Internships here are more stable, complete with a set process. They are also likely to offer better pay and security, amongst other perks and benefits within those cool glass walls of your workplace. Your role is well-defined, and you are assigned your place accordingly, which does not leave much scope for leadership opportunities, if that’s what you’re looking for. Nevertheless, you can still gain real experience in this setting.
An internship does not necessarily have to be with a bigger company to be successful. If you plan to go for start-ups, you may as well choose an established one within a fast-growing industry or one with a solid client base. You’ll learn how a business runs, and that too more quickly than in a big organisation.
At a small company, you’re more likely to forge a close relationship with your boss who’s more likely going to be the founder themselves, and not some mid-level manager of a big company. And this relationship with the start-up’s core team is more likely to last longer. Note that in a larger company, interns can potentially be replaceable because everyone wants the job. There is no ‘personal’ feel like that of a start-up.
There can be a lot of excitement involved in this role. Start-ups give you the opportunity to get involved a lot and sometimes also give you the freedom make improvements where you see them. With a smaller company, interns get more control over projects than they would at a larger company. Here, it is also easier to be pushed into newer roles, and you end up doing something that would really challenge you.
It all boils down to which company would be a better fit for you.
Another alternative could be, if possible, to try and intern at both a startup and a larger company. Reason being, if you’ve tried out both ends of the spectrum, it will be easier to determine where you would like to work once you graduate. In fact, many companies, both large and small, might use the internship period as a trial for full-time employment, thus hiring past interns full-time.
Just remember to enjoy whatever you do!