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Should you do a startup internship?

Are you eager to gain some hands-on experience in a company, but not yet sure whether to go for a big corporate, an SME or a startup? Find everything you might want to know about working as an intern in a startup here!
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internship in startup

Slowly but steady, summer holidays are approaching and so is a new internship season for many students who seek to expand their theoretical knowledge with some practical input. However, internships vary a lot in duration and overall setting, and this holds true within the startup scene too. 

So, to help you in the decision process of whether an internship is currently the right option for you, we’ve collected some of the most pressing questions you might have about doing an internship in a startup. So let’s get you all set on the details!

What exactly is an internship?

An internship is a temporary position in an organization that gives you the chance to learn about a certain industry or company and gain work experience in your field of interest or study

While internships, in general, last between one and twelve months, most companies offer six-month contracts. So, it might either be a great way of taking a semester off to gain some practical experience, fill up a gap year (or term) with one or two internships before starting your master’s or opting for a soft entry into the working life, by still keeping your options open. 

What does an internship in a startup look like?

Going for an internship in a startup may be very different from the experience you get from working in a larger company. However, of course, it very much depends on the particular startup you are interning for. Startups are often much smaller than already established companies, and the atmosphere may be a lot more informal. 

In general, you will likely be working on a variety of tasks to help the company get off the ground. This may include doing market research, developing marketing materials, helping to build a website, or creating a business plan. Expect to be given a lot of responsibility and be involved in many different tasks and aspects of the business. 

You will have the opportunity to learn about the startup process and get a close look at how a startup operates. There’s also the possibility that you work closely with the founder or CEO and see what it takes to launch a successful business.

How to get an internship at a startup

There is no one-size-fits-all answer to this question since it always depends on the specific startup and your own qualifications and interests. However, there are a few ways to find your next internship in a startup: 

  1. Check out websites and job platforms that specialize in startup jobs, such as our very own job board here on wecanbeheroes
  2. Use social media to search for startups that might hire interns and skim through job ads on e.g. LinkedIn. 
  3. Use those networking skills of yours to attend startup events and meetups in the scene to network with professionals in the community and find your potential new challenge. 
  4. Tip: we’ve listed the top European startup events of 2022 you should not miss out on here
  5. Last but not least, use your personal network, and talk to friends and family to find out about interesting startups that might hire interns. 

When is the best time to start an internship?

Many companies offer internships for the summer months, but there are always lots of opportunities during the school year too. So, the best time to start an internship is when it is offered and fits your semester or gap year plans

Now, if the time feels right, what are you waiting for? Go get that internship and start your startup adventure!

What is a virtual internship?

In a virtual internship, the intern works remotely. As a result, you’re not bound to a certain location, so virtual internships are a good opportunity to work for an organization or startup that’s located in another city or country

However, are virtual internships worth it? If it’s in a startup that’s particularly interesting for you and if they offer meaningful work that can help you gain skills and experience in your field, it’s totally worth giving a virtual internship a shot.

Anyways, it’s also up to you to ask yourself if you’re willing to work remotely from wherever or if you’d rather have your colleagues around in the office. Be sure to do your research to find out if the virtual internship is a good fit for you.

Tip: virtual internships are often advertised as remote internships, so be sure you watch out for this option too!

Pro tip: if you’re interested in virtual internships, check out our job platform regularly, to search for your remote internship in a startup on a European-wide basis. 

Haven’t done a virtual interview before? Check out our other articles on how to ace your online interview or maybe you need help writing your cover letter with little to no experience? Don’t worry, we have everything you need to make sure you put your best foot forward in our job application-focused articles.

Are internships paid?

Most internships are paid, but some are not. This may also vary from country to country, and, of course, depends on the particular startup. Unpaid internships are frequently also labelled as voluntary work. This type of internship is sometimes offered in terms of a short-period internship at a startup. 

Sometimes you might as well stumble upon the term compulsory internships, referring to jobs offered specifically to students from certain universities which require their students to gain some first hands-on experience as part of their degree.

In this case, unpaid internships are offered in exchange for academic credit. An example of such is the internships at the United Nations.

Conclusion: Should I do a startup internship?

Whether you should go for an internship in a startup or not very much depends on your personal goals and situation. An internship is definitely a good way to get some first work experience in a certain field and company. 

If you opt for applying as an intern in a startup, check out the internship job postings we have here on wecanbeheroes. We are sure you can find an innovative and fulfilling internship to add to your career journey.

Want more help? Check out: the right questions to ask in an interview, or this one about how to best prepare for your job interview

We wish you the best of luck!

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