January 20, 2017, by Carla Froggatt
Why You Should Choose an Internship at a Start-Up
By Darren Choong (1) and Oliver Gee (2)
It’s the time of year again when the Ingenuity Lab opens its doors to interns. Each opportunity is based at a start-up, offering you a unique insight into the world of work and enabling you to make a real impact toward the growth of a company. They’re also part-time; a great way to get some experience – and a bit of extra cash – around your studies. Here’s what two students got up to last year…
1. Sampling social media at a start-up
Working at a start-up was one of the best decisions I made at university. That’s right – working, not interning. I started my internship as a social media and marketing intern with Model Students during my last semester at university. I found out about the opportunity in an email from the Careers and Employability Service, advertising internships at the Ingenuity Lab.
I spotted the advert for Model Students, which lured me with the appeal of learning and working in a new industry, fashion. I applied within a week – sending in a tailored cover letter and CV. I spent some time researching the company and sent Anna, the founder, an email – a personal touch that was not lost on her. After being shortlisted, I attended an interview and was asked to deliver a presentation at the Ingenuity Lab. The next day, I was offered the position.
A flexible role, with plenty of responsibility
Working at a start-up was very flexible. The only requirement was that I had to work eight hours a week, for around 10 weeks. I loved the entrepreneurial environment; it was great being based next to all the other start-ups at the Lab.
My regular duties were crafting social media content for Model Student’s platforms. I was pleasantly surprised to be given almost full responsibility with this, allowing me to work pretty independently. I helped to generate ideas for a weekly blog post, and also had several opportunities to interview some of the agency’s student models. I heard insights into their personal and professional lives, which allowed me to make the agency more relatable to their social media audience. It also improved my writing skills, which was important for a communications student like myself, looking to get into the media industry. Another part of my role was attending events – from representing Model Students at networking events to working at runway shows in the city. I found this very enjoyable and it was great for my interpersonal communication skills.
From enhancing my CV to a permanent role
Aside from earning some money and enhancing my CV, this opportunity also provided plenty of experiences to discuss in interviews. I’ve talked about crafting social media and blog posts, and how I stepped out of my comfort zone and thrived in an unfamiliar environment. I believe this contributed to me securing a social media role at a PR agency in Singapore.
I learned so much from Anna and her team – insights I might not have gained at a big multinational corporation. Given a chance, I would do this internship again in a heartbeat. Working at a start-up allows you to immerse yourself in a professional yet educational environment, provides you with room to make mistakes and improve your skills, and the opportunity to develop as a person and future working adult.
2. Balancing work experience and a masters
Even though I still had a year to go until I completed my masters degree, I wanted to add a little bit more of a sparkle to my CV. I decided to get some real world experience, and what better way to do that than by working at a start-up?
The opportunity arrived at my University inbox from an unusually named company, Quensus. They were recruiting for web development placements. Seeing it as the answer to my prayers, I wasted little time and applied promptly. I attended an interview and got the job the same day.
I soon discovered that their business focus had changed and more work was needed on their actual product. This meant that I could get really stuck in with product development and I was offered a paid, one hundred hours of work. Of course I accepted eagerly – I would get to expand my existing knowledge, while flexibly fitting the work around my lecture times.
New experiences, newfound confidence
I worked with a range programmable microchips that ordinarily I would never have the chance to use. I had so many new experiences, such as experimenting with radio communications, sensors, motors and other electronics galore. There was a lot of close engagement with my manager, which meant lots of direct feedback. This not only allowed me to improve my personal ability as a programmer, but also my professional ability to work alongside a team.
My time with Quensus was spent working on a real world product, a product that had real ramifications and purpose. To see something I had worked on being used made it all worthwhile. It is an experience that will no doubt aid me in securing a future job and it definitely gave me more faith in my own abilities, allowing me to say:
“You know that product. Yes, I worked on that”
Working with a start-up showed what lurked at the boundaries of my field, encouraging me to explore where computer science meets engineering and business. I was given the opportunity to test the waters in each area and pick up some real insights into the world of work.
Don’t get me wrong, working with a top named business is a brilliant way to bolster your CV. However, after weighing up the benefits of being part of a start-up team, you just cannot beat the flexibility and the responsibility it provides. You get to make your own decisions in the development process, which some of the larger firms simply wouldn’t allow you to do.
Thinking about an internship at a start-up? January’s vacancies are now online and are available to all current students. The deadline for applications is Sunday 5 February, so why not pop in and get your CV reviewed first? Book an appointment on My Career.