Wednesday, October 27, 2010

4 sure-fire strategies for a successful internship at a startup

Congrats! You’ve just landed an internship with a growing company. While you look forward to your first day, you know that your daily grind will be different from your friends’ stints at Fortune 500 companies. But maybe you’re not exactly what to expect, even after your interview. Here’s an insider’s take on what you need to know to thrive in a start-up culture even before your first day on the job:

1. Think Like an Entrepreneur – An entrepreneurial mindset is always an asset, whether you’re in the office or on the go. Entrepreneurs tend to think about the big picture, while ensuring that even the smallest details are delegated. Entrepreneurs tend to always ask questions and are willing to learn from others, and you should be eager to do the same. Ask to read the company business plan, and stay up-to-date on recent trends and newsworthy events through industry blogs. See the office through the eyes of the person who started it all, and you’ll have a greater appreciation for the vision of the company, and the small details you’ll be working on to make sure success is in sight.

2. Get Organized – The one thing that all entrepreneurs have in common is that they’re always busy. Even if you’re boss doesn’t ask, send a weekly report highlighting your accomplishments for the week. Not only does this help your boss know what you’ve accomplish and where you’re at on projects, but it’s a record of successes you can put on your resume.

3. Be a Jack-of-all-Trades and a Master of One – In a growing organization, there is an emphasis on the all-hands on deck approach. Some days you’ll need to help with administrative work, and other days you might be running errands or event planning. While you should always be on the lookout for opportunities to help where necessary, it’s ok to highlight your skills. If you’re studying public relations and you can write-up a press release that gets journalists’ attention, make sure your boss knows. While it’s good to be a jack-of-all-trades, make sure your boss knows about the one (or two!) skills you’ve mastered.

4. Pitch It – The company you’re working for exists because the owners decided to take a good idea and make it happen. Your boss shouldn’t be shy to the art of pitching ideas, and neither should you. If you see an idea that can be executed, write a plan of action and pitch it to your boss. Back your plan up with research and ideas for execution.

The start-up environment is fast-paced and action packed. Make the most of your internship by being a team player, using your best skills and thinking like your boss and you’ll be a start-up veteran before your semester is over!

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