The value of doing internships is drilled into our heads from the moment we step into college, but many students restrict themselves by only applying to the well-known firm or established investment bank and then continue to spend the remainder of their university summers there.
But, it's equally important to consider where you will have the most learning and growth potential, especially if you are an entrepreneur looking to set up a venture of your own or are serious about giving wings to your career early on.
Here are some tips for where to intern and when. Whether you're a sophomore or graduating college, this guide will hopefully help you figure out the best way to optimize your internships for learning and resume-building.
Freshman Summer: Work in Sales
This early on in your college career, you should do what few others do: work in sales. Ideally, you should love the product you are selling but the main goal is to go door to door or take sales calls to learn the critical skill of selling.
This internship isn't just for those who are aspiring to build a career in sales. The art of selling is an important talent to cultivate for whatever field you choose because you will always have to sell your ideas to convince management to pursue your strategy or else convince those on the other side of the interview table of your potential.
If you're interested in entrepreneurship, great selling skill will give you a much needed edge when it comes to pitching ideas to potential investors, early customers, and prospective recruits.
Sophomore Summer: Intern at a Startup
Spend a summer at a startup because you will learn a ton. The value of working at a startup is in your responsibility to wear multiple hats and perform many roles. Instead of working in one division, you will get acquainted with all the moving parts of a company and become instrumental in shaping the business from the bottom up. Unlike major firms and organizations, you will be given tremendous opportunity and responsibility in making critical decisions.
There are other benefits of working with a startup. The environment is accessible, dynamic, and hands-on, and will require interaction with the founders and leaders of the organization. This is unique to startups because in most large corporations, you will not get to spend time with executives, especially as an intern. Through these engagements, you will be exposed to how the founders make decisions, the challenges they face in building the company, and will have access to great mentors that will help you throughout your career.
Junior Summer: Score Your Dream Internship
After interning at a startup, look for an internship at the big brand you have always wanted to work for. At this point, large firms are more likely to provide opportunities for you because you already have diverse work experience under your belt and are closer to graduation.
A larger company will give you the brand name on your resume and add a different dimension to your professional experiences. You will get a better perspective as to how enterprises operate, how to overcome bureaucratic red tape, and how these big companies make decisions.
If you ever want to sell to enterprise firms as an entrepreneur, after this experience you will be well positioned to build a strategy to work with them. You will also see the advantages and disadvantages of increased bureaucracy, which will help you predict problems that may arise as you scale your company.
Time to learn and experiment!
They say that the first three months in a job is when your learning curve is the steepest: when you absorb a lot and grow the most, and college students are in a very unique position to explore three different internship opportunities over the course of their summers. Take advantage of these intensive crash courses and ensure you are growing, learning, and developing new skills each summer before you hit the real world!