Intern at a Startup: Easy Step-by-Step Guide to be so Successful

When considering companies to intern at, your thoughts go to the big companies, right? Did you know that the startups provide a better baseline for a starter in an industry?.

Here’s why. You basically get the opportunity to learn about the full business operations interning at a startup than in big organizations where you’ll specialize in one area. That vast knowledge you’ll receive at a startup will propel your success in the latter days of your career.

In fact, that quest to work with the best companies in your area of specialty is aided by an intern at a startup.

There are other reasons to intern at a startup. In this article, we will discuss some of the reasons to intern at a startup and the easy steps to be successful while at an internship in a startup.

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Why You Should Intern at a Startup?

1. Better chance of securing the internship

Since not many people consider applying for an internship in a start-up, you will already have less competition and your chances of securing the position will be higher. This is not because startups accept people with little or no experience, rather because many students feel their internship will be of a greater value when done at an established company.

In addition, with startups, interns can be free to learn about the operations of the startup ad make contributions. Big companies already have the ideal intern in mind and his creativity can be hindered by following laid down procedures for every endeavor.

Start-ups, however, are more flexible. If the intern performs well, the spot may be reserved for him upon graduation. We’ve had this experience in my place of work.

Read this: 15 Types of Internships for International Students

2. More responsibility

The duties of an intern are already stipulated in big companies. In most companies, menial jobs like running errands can be added to your job description.

However, in a start-up, all hands must be on deck as time and resources are extremely valuable, which means that there’s a high chance that you’ll be working on real projects from day one.

Working on real projects gives a lot of insight and real experience that will be needful when applying for your first job. These big companies may not give you this real-life experience. This is an advantage to intern at a startup.

3. You’ll learn how organisations work

In startups, interns are always at the forefront of actions and experience pretty much all the business which the company performs. They are part of the ideation processes that birth new ideas.

This is because startups encourage employees to share ideas and feedback, therefore, interns will be part of important discussions that can facelift the company.

But, this is not possible when you intern in a big organization. It limits your exposure to certain business functions which you are actually set to perform since there are thousands of employees.

4. More feedback from superiors

Did you know that startups give the best fedbacks?

Since you’d have performed many tasks, they’d be free and open to give constructive and valuable feedback which is vital to your success in that career.

It is also easier to walk up to your superior and ask for feedback in a startup as an intern than in a large company where there are many procedures.

This is because you will work more closely with senior colleagues at a start-up and be able to build a better relationship with them.

5. Free work culture

Startups tend to be more open when it comes to working culture. From the attire to the friendly and family-like environment. It will give you a good peek of what an organization can be rather than working in an office with cubicles where everyone is very formal.

Although this may be a good environment for interns who wish to be in the very corporate world, it is advised to start a career in a more relaxed environment.

6. Easy Interaction with superiors and colleagues

Big organizations plan the work ethics to revolve around working and networking more with other interns since you are only one of many. This is not bad, but it limits you to network with people already in positions you wish to occupy one day.

However, in a start-up environment, there are usually fewer interns. With this, your daily interactions will be with full-time employees.

The advantage is that you’ll get more advice and insight from those you look up to. In addition, you’ll be making connections with valuable people. Chat with them about your experiences and learn from their wealth of knowledge. Their experiences and your work relationship will be an invaluable tool in the future.

7. Informal hiring experience

This doesn’t mean an informal or less than professional hiring process.

Startups tend to be more flexible in their hiring process. Some of those rigorous application and interview processes, strict academic requirements are cut out at startups.

They focus more on the intern’s ability to effectively perform given tasks at the startup. Academic qualifications shift to abilities asides academics.

Step by Step Guide to be Successful Interning at a Startup

Here is the guidelines to intern and be successful at a startup firm.

Step 1: Create time and schedule to intern at a startup

Before you can intern at a startup, you must clear up your schedule and create time for the internship. 1-3 months is ideal for it.

However, if you still want to do an internship while having classes, it’s entirely possible. As long as you manage your time and find a flexible and understanding company, you can start your internship.

Step 2: Create a list of startups you want to apply to

The second step is to create a list of companies where you can apply to.

To properly do this, create two kinds of lists; startups that are actively hiring interns, and startups that aren’t hiring but you’re highly interested to work for.

Search for companies that are actively hiring through job portals. Try job platforms like, and Jobstreet.

Secondly, you can join the job and internship Facebook groups of your university. LinkedIn is at the moment the best platform to search for jobs.

#3 Send Applications only to sectors you’re passionate about

After creating a shortlist of the startup companies you can apply to intern at, narrow down that list to the sectors you are interested in and have some background in. This background could be an academic, certificate, previous job experience, passion, or its likes.

Although tech startups are super popular, they’re not the only kind out there. Research your sector of choice and search for internship opportunities from there.

Don’t forget to reach out to companies you admire doing incredible jobs. The worst that can happen is they reject you by saying there’s no space. It is better to try than to wish you tried.

#4 Location is Important

 It is very important to consider the location of the startup before applying. There are many reasons for this. First, since many startups do not pay any wages, relocating will incur extra costs which you may not have the funds to finance. Unless, the startup will give you a relocation allowance or provide a place of residence.

Secondly, the climate of the location will also affect choice. Many allergies can be triggered by living in certain climates. Consider your health while choosing the location of the startup you wish to intern at.

You can search for country-specific internship opportunities.

Lastly, look up the local laws of the startup locations. Spot out illegal situations and learn how to tackle them ahead of time.

#4 Ask the right Questions

Even as you plan your internship opportunity, make sure to cover these bases. Just like any program, well-placed questions can steer you in a good direction. Below we have provided some sample questions to ask.

What Is the Company Culture Like?

Asking questions regarding how the company culture is like can help prepare you for how the startup company operates. While this won’t guarantee your successful internships at the startup, it will help you prepare adequately. You’ll also understand the company expectations from employees and interns.

How Will I Be Compensated? Will I Be Provided With Accommodation?

Internships at a startup may or may not be paid. Also, some internships offer accommodation but no stipend. Others may require you to find your own accommodations as well.

You have to figure out the offers that will come with the internship. This will help you decide how much money you need to have and what arrangements you need to make before heading over.

You need to read this: What Can I Get From Unpaid Internships In 2022?


The difference between a start-up and a corporation is their working environment and the type of work you can do. This should be well understood by interns who wish to work in a startup.

If your career goals are to help a business grow from the bottom up, learn all about business operations, or even start your own business, working as an intern in a start-up will give you all the experience you will need.

In this article, we have provided reasons to intern at a startup as well as tips on how to be successful.



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