Why You Should Intern At A Startup - Even If You Don't Want To Be An Entrepreneur

Why You Should Intern At A Startup - Even If You Don't Want To Be An Entrepreneur

Hey you - the finance major who hopes to one day work at a Big 4 consulting firm. Or you, the journalism major whose pinnacle career aspiration is to be an editor in chief for a major US newspaper. Or @any college student confused how Sage Corps, a global entrepreneurship program that sends students abroad to intern with tech startups, could POSSIBLY benefit them in their post-grad professional life.

This one’s for you.

Each year, thousands of students apply to our programs, from all universities and all majors.

And each year, we select a couple hundred students to participate in our programs. But according to an article from Small Business Trends, only 0.7 percent of US college students study entrepreneurship. And that’s okay.

You certainly don’t have to to have a strong interest in entrepreneurship to reap the benefits of a startup internship. Read on to learn more about what startup internships have to offer:

Startups are where the cutting-edge ideas are.

Have you ever heard of a (successful) new company producing old technology? Or promoting outdated ideas?

Didn’t think so.

Today’s hottest up-and-coming businesses are focused on the NEW. Interning at a startup exposes you to NEW technology (read here about Rob, who interned at a biotech startup), and NEW ideas (read here about Brittany, who interned at a startup focused on sustainability, and promoting paper straws to reduce plastic waste).

Just imagine talking about your experience interning at one of these companies in your next job interview. It would be hard not to sound impressive.

You’ll get to wear multiple hats, and see multiple parts of the business.

While traditional internships can help you get a better sense of one department of a company, in a startup internship you may have exposure to multiple. Since startup teams are traditionally smaller, you’ll get to see the ins-and-outs of every department and how they all work together to help grow the company. You might even learn things about another part of the company that you didn’t know you were interested in.

You’ll make meaningful connections with the top members of the company - think founders, CEOs, CTOs, CMOs, departmental directors, etc. - and they’ll listen to you.

How many of your peers can say they had daily access to the company’s founder during a past internship?

Probably not many (unless they did Sage Corps!).

While working on a small team at a startup, collaboration is key, which means that all hands are always on deck. You can expect to be having weekly meetings with the true decision makers of the company - and have your ideas heard and incorporated.

Don’t believe us? Check out this testimonial from Chicago ‘17 fellow, Tudor:

Here I am needed. My superiors look at me and see how I perform and can see that I’m capable; I’m able to counsel the startups and advise them on issues regarding their business. In Istanbul I started coaching the entrepreneurs and one of them came to me and his business model didn’t fit for the US at all - he was Serbian. It was a flood warning program that I didn’t think would work in the US because we already have billion of dollars invested in our own warning programs. He needed help, and I came and talked to him and gave him some ideas like, “why don’t you put apply it to warning systems at colleges and universities?” At the end of the day, he said that I gave him confidence to continue on with his idea. I made an impact on a real person.
— Tudor Dorobantu, Boston University, Chicago 2017

You will make real impact on a scaling business. And, an international one at that.

Leave the typical “coffee-runs and making copies” to your peers. At a startup you’ll be given meaningful tasks, like creating strategic partnerships, developing a 3-month email marketing campaign, designing an Android version of the company’s app…need we go on?

The experiences that you can get while interning at a startup are unparalleled if you are looking to gain real and significant work experience that is more than just a line on your resume.

Read here about Alexis, who learned this firsthand.

It won’t be easy, but the skills you will develop will transfer into any subsequent job opportunities you pursue.

Just take it from our alums:

I learned so much from this internship in the moments I thought I was drowning and will definitely translate the skill sets over to my future professional and life endeavors.
— Fernando Carretero, U Michigan, Sydney 2018
You will learn many skills, whether or not they are immediately apparent, that will be applicable in other situations in the future. Although you are working on a team, you have the flexibility to realize some of your own professional goals and learn more than you initially set out to learn.
— Micaela Osuji, Harvard, Buenos Aires 2015
My Sage Corps internship empowered me with the tools and confidence to launch an idea, develop it critically, and present it effectively, which is such a valuable skill to have in any professional or academic setting. The Sage Corps community, fellows, and my start-up were always incredibly supportive and helped make my summer the best one yet!
— Kanishka Kewlani, Columbia, Hong Kong 2016

The list truly goes on, which is why we do what we do. As you begin to plan for Summer 2019, consider taking a leap and interning with a startup - especially an international one!