Interning at a Startup: What to Expect When You Don’t Know What To Expect

Interns from 2015

So what should you expect while interning at a startup? In short: expect everything.

Interning at a startup is an experience unlike any other.  Most likely, there will be under 50 employees and you will be among the youngest in the office.  This was the case in my experience, and while I had dedicated tasks every week and reported to a small team within the office, I still worked extensively with everyone else.  “It’s like a family.”  You’ve probably heard it before. But, you do develop a cozy sense of familiarity.  This definitely makes approaching a new internship less intimidating.  Soon enough, it’ll feel like you’ve worked at your
startup for way longer than you actually have.

Interns from 2015

You will be responsible for a (large) number of things. As a coding education intern, I was heavily involved in consolidating content for our different bootcamps (Front-End, Java, & .NET (C#)!). I created labs and projects for our students to complete.  I helped students with their code. However, I was also given more power than I had expected. I designed and taught a Bootstrap seminar to alumni students, and actually established this very blog! I did not expect to be trusted with so much, but I embraced the opportunity and grew a lot from being given so much responsibility.

So much work gets done. Be prepared to hustle. When you only have a small group of people to make sure everything runs smoothly, everyone buckles down.  In a single day, we may host over 100 students, 50 co-workers, and an assortment of guests and visitors.  It is important to make sure everyone who walks through the doors has a pleasant experience, so we work hard to keep the space nice, the coffee hot, and the vibes good. There are many logistical things to remember – student headshots, project deadlines, meetings and interviews, office hours and tours. Everyone in the office works to keep the ship sailing; we don’t have lower divisions or departments to delegate specific tasks to. You learn to get a lot done in whatever time you have.

Okay, so now you know exactly what to expect, right? WRONG. Sure. What I mentioned are a few things to keep in mind when working at a startup.  The thing is, each startup is different – a start-up’s goals, team members, and environment are all unique. Thus, the intern experience will be unique.  Just be excited, be ready to work, be prepared to learn. Be open to new responsibilities and new opportunities. Be flexible and open minded, and be yourself.

So, spread your wings and fly.  More importantly. Expect everything and anything.