Interning for a Startup – The Perks

Throughout college, I have been surrounded by highly ambitious, competitive individuals. The “typical” Duke student strives to work at the Morgan Stanley and Microsoft companies of the world, never recognizing the small, young start-up companies as even a blip on their radar. Often, it seems that values and genuine interests are abandoned in the chase for the highest paid position at the most prestigious organizations. Although my internship quest was initially a process of googling “employment at (insert large fashion company here) in New York City,” it ultimately resulted in an unpaid position with a startup company.


In the spring, while most of my friends boasted about offers with the largest banks and corporations, and incessantly updated their LinkedIn accounts, I was a bit more reserved about my internship position. Few people recognized the name of the company that I would be working for, and I couldn’t sum up my job description with a mere title. To be honest, I really did not know what my job would entail. But hey…at least I’d be living the dream in New York City, right?

While I have been working at my start-up for only three weeks, I can say with confidence that my experience has been more rewarding and diversified than many intern positions with longstanding organizations. One unique aspect of start-up companies is the atmosphere within the office. Typically, start-ups are founded by young, passionate entrepreneurs. This enthusiasm is further reflected by its employees, who are excited about the inherent potential of a new business venture and are eager to learn. Further, start-up companies are not inundated with hundreds of workers, often leading to an overwhelming sea of nameless faces. Instead, a small team of motivated employees ensures a high level of collaboration and familiarity among workers. Being one of only 15 employees, I feel that my ideas and opinions are valued highly and taken into consideration by the company. In this small, intimate environment, I am able to see first-hand the impact that my work is making on the success of the company.

Not only is the work atmosphere of a start-up unique, but also the nature of the work itself is distinct. While I may not be learning a great deal in a one specialized field, I am learning a little bit in a wide range of areas, including marketing, sales, and finance. My experience is preparing me to be a well-rounded candidate for various positions in the professional world.

Sure, like all interns I’ve had to grab coffee a few times for my boss (iced with skim milk and Splenda), but working for a young, start-up company involves far more than taking orders from authority. Interning for a startup is a valuable, rewarding experience that should not be overlooked by ambitious students.