Starting Small: Why Interning At Small Companies Is Worth It

Whenever I imagined the internships I’d have during college or over my summer vacations, I dreamed only of interning at the area’s top agencies with a pre-established well-renowned internship program.

And sure, that sounds great, and one day I’d love to land one of those. That being said, life doesn’t always play out that way, especially when getting a job comes a lot more down to who you know than what you know (in my experiences, anyway). Not to say that what you know isn’t important, but you can have a near perfect GPA and still not get the attention of the big shots unless you make some sort of connection to get there.

So here’s the part that nobody ever told me: that’s okay. It’s okay if you don’t know any big shots in the marketing world. You’ll get there. But until then, you can still do pretty well starting small.

I almost didn’t accept my internship this summer because of my “fear of the unknown.” They had never had an internship program before, so I had no one to connect with on LinkedIn and ask how it went. No one to tell me how valuable of an experience it was going to be interning for them. No one to tell me just exactly what it was that I was really getting myself into.

Nonetheless, I started my internship with what I thought was a pretty small company, only to soon find out that they actually have projects all across the U.S., Canada, and Brazil (yeah, no big deal, right?). My main mission for the summer is brand consistency, advertising, and web design. I had no idea how this internship was going to go, but as it turns out, interning with the current professionals in the company to develop the internship program has helped me grow and learn more than I could’ve ever imagined.

Interning at a small(er) company means that I’m not just looked at as another college intern who will just come and go. I feel genuinely respected here as a fellow employee– the kind of respect you might not always see happening at those big companies (or at least at the ones in the movies anyway). My co-workers appreciate the new, youthful approach I can bring to the table that not many other people in the company necessarily can. I’m not just a, “Hey, Ashley, do this” kind of intern. Instead, I am a major contributor to the task at hand and my ideas are not discarded but rather valued. And let me tell you, the coolest feeling in the world is seeing one of your ideas that started off as just a mental concept come to life right before your eyes and be used by your company.

Interning at a small company has helped me realize that even though I always thought I’d need someone right next to me showing me exactly what to do, I don’t. Turns out, you know a lot more than you think you do. And if you don’t, well, we’re just lucky enough to live in the day and age where Google is right at our fingertips.

So, take it from me. If you don’t land that huge internship with the company of your dreams, don’t think that means your internship won’t be worthwhile. In fact, I would say that internships with lesser-known companies might be more beneficial, especially in the world of marketing. That company has so much room for growth and you have the power to help it really take off, and if you can help them do that, you’re headed right for the big leagues.

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