Why I think “every” student should have at least one experience in a Startup

I shall put every under bracket and this because, even if I believe that everyone would benefit from an experience in a startup, some graduates in specific areas won’t benefit directly from such experience. For example if your career goal is to work in one of the top 3 investment banking firms, you might want to go directly for a bigger company. Again, this is open to discussion but you get the point; almost every student should, in my opinion, try to get an experience in a startup.

Indeed if you are a student and you wonder where you could get some valuable experience a startup might just be the place you are looking for. While getting a first experience in a big firm might be really hard (especially in the current economic climate) ,many startup are open to welcome young students/graduates willing to learn and help. I undertook my very first internship in a digital startup last summer and I am now working part-time for WeRInteractve , a social gaming startup based in central London.

I learned a lot from this two experiences and I truly believe that everyone should get at least one experience in a startup environment. That doesn’t necessary involve a desire to work in such environment but you will definitely learn a lot from it. From there you will most definitely have gained skilled that will be essential on your CV, skills that you will be able to sell wherever you want to go.

Here are all the good points I could enlighten while working in a startup:

The good points 

Young team: It’s a fact, startups are (most of the time) filled with young people. You will, most certainly fit into the team really quickly. Felling comfortable is really important, especially as a beginner. You will have loads to learn and will be happy to find young, approachable colleagues to talk to when in need for answers.

Networking: The good thing about working in a small team is that you are able to get to know everybody. The CEO/ Founder might be sitting in the chair next to you and it is up to you to get in contact with everyone. When working in big groups I have always found it really hard to speak to the people I really wanted to speak to. This is not the case in a startup and the contact you can make are really valuable.

Mentoring/ Personal experience: Here again, small team means that your manager will be likely to have more time to train you. In my case , my first manager in InDigital became a guide and a mentor. He has valuable experience and was willing to share advice and tips. He has a great website too so check out what he has to say HERE.

Multiple hats: The nature of a startup makes it likely for you to do many jobs at once. You might do marketing, but also community management, social media, communications, PR,  copy-writing, media editing, production of media content and so on. That might be, at times, overwhelming but it helps you to discover many jobs at once. As a student you are likely to be unsure of what you really want to do in the future. Working in so many different roles might help you figure out non only what you like but also what you are good at!

More responsibilities: Not only you will be involved in many areas , in a startup everyone participate in the shaping of the company. That said, you will likely be able to participate and collaborate on strategic discussions regarding the future of the company. As there is often no middle man, you will have to take decisions by yourself, assess risk and act independently on the name of the company and this really quickly.

Flexibility: When looking for an internship, I struggled to find something that would work around my timetable. I wasn’t able to quit my job for an unpaid or barely paid internship. I found that startups were more flexible. Part time work/ Flexible days ect…

And less good ones…

High risks: If, in the long-term, working for a startup can be extremely rewarding it is also a risk to take. Indeed, the beauty of the startup environment is also its downfall. No one really knows what will be tomorrow. The market might respond differently than expected, the needs might have been overestimated and you basically could lose your job really quickly.

Changes and more changes: Nothing is really settled. From your job title to your working hours, passing by the new co-worker to the company strategies, a startup is continually undergoing changes in order to evolve. If you don’t like changes, this is certainly not the right environment for you.

It is hard work: You might think it is all fun, filled with young people playing around and drinking tea all day. Well, even if the atmosphere is relaxed and nice people work really hard. Everyone is in the same boat to make it happen and most won’t count the hours. All the people I met along my journey in the startup world were really driven and putting the company needs first.

Voilà, my journey in the startup world is over for now. Indeed, today is my last day with WeR and I am going onto new adventures as I am getting ready to start my journey as a graduate student at the LSE.

Any comment or feedback is always welcome. Feel free to share your experience by commenting !

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