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Top 5 reasons to choose a startup for your first internship

When choosing a school for my business masters, I was attracted to ESCP because of the career-building opportunities you have during and after finishing your studies. 

After learning about ESCP’s partnerships with multinationals and famous brands, I thought about how cool it would be to have the chance to work in this environment, and be involved in really big initiatives. I thought that small companies and startups didn’t offer interesting opportunities.

However, when it came down to making the decision of which internships to go for, I realised that it is not easy and straightforward to pick the correct path for yourself. Since I had so many possibilities and opportunities to choose from, it wasn’t easy to pick one and rule out all the others, especially since I was facing the job market for the very first time. I had very different interests in very different industries, and the choice was tough and risky. 

Then I remembered that the School’s Careers coaches advised me that I needed to take into account not only my interests but also many other variables that shape my personality, my approach to work, and my needs and skills. 

As a young professional in her first experience, I needed to understand my personality and skill sets, both hard and soft, to approach a specific position in a specific industry. In addition to the assessment regarding my personal sphere, I also needed to take into account what I wanted to learn in the workplace and the type of environment I would like to be in, where I could express my potential to the fullest. 

During this semester I had the chance to pick my first specialisation of the Master in Management. I chose to study Impact Entrepreneurship, digging in depth into all the processes needed to create and sustain a startup. We learned how to design a strategy for a new venture, from the idea until the financing phase, when you pitch the idea to investors. 

Doing this specialisation opened up a wide range of new possibilities and opportunities for my professional life which I had never considered before. Understanding the processes involved in the creation of a startup made me aware of the diverse opportunities available when joining this type of organisation. Here are the top 5 advantages that I have learnt so far. 

#1 Many responsibilities from Day 1

Being in the environment of a startup means working in really small groups on really impactful projects. Even from the perspective of an intern, you will be given a lot of responsibilities to bring to projects; your role will be key for the development of the activities within your group and tangible in the business as whole. This aspect is particularly interesting if we compare it to the dynamics of a big corporation: in a corporate environment you might feel that the tasks you are doing are a side dish to the overall meal. Instead, in the environment of a startup, you will be able to see that your actions are actually the “main course”. 

#2 Learning by doing

Working in a startup means that everything needs to be created from scratch as there may be few established ways of going about things. This gives you the opportunity to put directly into practice what you have learned in your business studies, creating an immersive learning experience, starting from what you know.

What you need is basically some knowledge on the topic and willingness and eagerness to learn as much as you can in order to be successful for your team. In this environment, the learning process is continuous and ongoing: the working experience is not just doing tasks, but improving and developing new skills day by day.

#3 Close relationships with everyone in the workplace

Usually a startup is composed of only a few members which facilitates the communication flow, as well as the sharing of experiences and emotions. Departments are generally composed of just a few people, and you see how interconnected they are. 

Startup environment

In a startup environment, you are able to personally meet not only the colleagues you’re working with in your department, but also closely speak to members of others, as well as having the chance to meet the company founder(s).

In this way, you feel like you’re participating not only in the working process, but also to the creation of a positive and inclusive environment, which fosters well being and close relationships with colleagues. Your workplace and your colleagues might even become a new family!

#4 Getting a close look at business practices

As I previously mentioned, working in a startup means having the possibility to see operations also from other departments. Usually, in startups we don’t see a clear division among the different processes, as the business is a work in progress. Each department needs to cooperate and coordinate tightly with each other: this is possible only if there is a smooth flow of information among departments and work practices that foster cohesion and collaboration.

In this environment particularly, you are able to see how each business unit influences each other and is key for the development of the overall business. It is like having a giant magnifying glass that enables us to closely see all the activities that make a business work. 

#5 Flexible work schedule

Last but not least, we always speak about “finding a work-life balance”. Working in a startup enables this in the following way: given that your workload will be dictated by projects and not by strictly scheduled working hours, you will be able to complete your tasks whenever you can, within or even outside the regular working hours. Having the opportunity to do so can be particularly useful since it enables you to schedule your working hours around time for yourself – of course making sure that the work gets done!

These are the top 5 reasons I was able to identify during this semester at ESCP; obviously there are some disadvantages to working in a startup as well.  Overall, my mind has changed with the experience of the entrepreneurship specialisation and I am glad I was able to dig in depth to the startup environment. It has indeed been an eye-opening experience that has had such a strong impact on me that I chose to work in a startup for the whole summer. 

About the author

Annalisa Tramannoni has just finished her first year of the Master in Management, and she is actively engaged within JET ESCP and in the Student Ambassador community. She previously studied Economics of Tourism at the University of Bologna and now she is conducting an Internship in a Startup in Milan.

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