Internships kind of get a bad rap. There’s always that one friend whose job it is to brew coffee or run errands, while not really gaining “experience” in their area of study. Or there’s the other friend that will make crazy good money being an intern at a Fortune 500 company. When it comes to internships where’s the happy medium? I think many college graduates (or about to be graduates) feel that choosing a company to intern for is a little of an “be-all end-all” situation. If they do a really great job, the company might offer them a position. But if they intern at a not so reputable company, that might hurt their chances of landing that big gig. After all, interning at Apple or Google looks much better on a resume than any mom and pop business, right? I’m going to silent the masses and say, no. In fact, small businesses make up about 75% of the United States Economy, and interning at one might not be such a bad idea after all. In today’s blog I’m going to share my 3 reasons of why you should intern at a small business:
Learn Something – What is the purpose of an internship anyway? I hope you would say it’s to gain experience! There’s no better way to gain experience than working for a small business. Why is this? Because small business owners do (or at one time did) everything in that business. From ordering and accounting, to marketing and product research. They’ve built and had to succeed in every scope of business. If you ever have the opportunity to ask a small business owner questions about how they started their business, I would highly recommend to do so; and if you can intern under them that’s even better. What you’re getting by interning with a small business is a lesson in business creation. Whether you go on to work for Amazon or a small business around the corner, you’re going to have to know how the puzzle fits together.
Don’t Get Lost In The Mix – When I hear stories of students getting coffee or running errands for their internships it really gets me down. What do those things have anything to do with the subject matter the student is trying to learn? Unless your major is “coffee brewing” or “errand running” I don’t see a need. Each company should hold themselves accountable for teaching proper methods to their interns, and I feel most big businesses don’t quite adhere to it. I feel in bigger businesses the intern is maybe viewed at as “less than” than traditional associates or employees. Yet, in a smaller business I feel a different vibe. In a smaller business you will be put to work, because your work and help is needed. It’s not about happy hour at the end of the day; it’s about putting in an honest day’s work and learning as much as you can. This allows you to develop a certain skill set, which you can bring to the table at any business. Some of the most important lessons I’ve learned in my professional career were from working for small businesses.
Connections – Something that always gets me is when I hear interning at a bigger business will get you so many more connections. I understand that, and to some point I agree with that. But what I’ve found is the number of connections doesn’t mean anything if the quality of the connection isn’t there. Let me explain: I would rather have 5 really strong connections than 100 weak ones. Connections and networking are to be used as a sense of leverage when you are looking for a position, or even another opportunity down the line. Think about the connections you have and how strong they are. If I didn’t feel I had a strong connection with someone I interned with, I couldn’t imagine reaching out to them 5 years down the road to vouch for me as a reference. When it comes to relationships it’s quality over quantity every time.
Conclusion – What are your thoughts on on interning at a small business? Do you think the connections you would gain at a bigger business or firm would outweigh the quality of connection you might get at a smaller business? Do you feel working directly under the CEO of a business would be a greater advantage in your future career? Let us know your thoughts and comments below we’d love to hear from you!