“Do you have a ping-pong table at your office?” “How many people work with you?” “Do you get to dress casually?” “What do you do?”
These questions are some of the first questions I normally receive when I tell people I work at a startup. I happily answer that there is actually a ping-pong table there and I do get to dress casually, the team is small – about 18 of us counting interns, and I get to try a lot of things. After explaining my internship to people I get a lot of reactions about how cool it sounds, to which I agree. I have learned a lot so far just halfway in.
So far during my internship there have been three aspects of interning at a startup that have stood out the most: the variety of projects and do a bit of everything attitude; the casual, laid-back environment where everyone is able to voice their opinions; and the access to and ability to learn from the founders and other people who have very interesting experience.
Everyone Wears Many Hats
At Scouted, and startups across the board, there are small teams, which means that everyone does a little bit of everything. As Robin, the co-founder of Scouted, explained to the interns on one of my first days: everyone wears many hats and everyone is happy to contribute in any way they can. While this variety of work can sound daunting at first, it provides a great opportunity. I have been able to take part in a wide variety of projects—from marketing, to data analytics projects, to writing this blog post. I am consistently told that if I am interested in working on a specific project, trying something new, or even just sitting in on meetings, I am welcome. All I need to do is ask.
Possibly the nicest part of working at a startup during the hot summer days is that I am allowed to dress casually—no suits and ties required. This casual dress spreads to every aspect of the company. While everyone works hard—the founders and team will often pull late nights—there is a flexibility that isn’t afforded at many jobs. From the ability to work from home if necessary to being able to turn on a close World Cup game, it is a comfortable office where everyone takes care of what they need to do, but nobody acts as a watchdog.
My favorite aspect of the casual office is the ability to speak up and give thoughts as an intern. Today during a meeting all of the interns were asked their opinion on a new idea and the opinions were taken genuinely. This environment creates a feeling that I am truly contributing and will have results to show at the end of the summer.
Also read: What It’s Like to Work at a Startup
Learning from the Team
Working with a team of about 18 allows for access to the founders and other team members who have had a lot of experience working on many aspects of a business. Every week we have team meetings with everyone in attendance. During these meetings everyone can participate and speak up and time is taken to explain any questions that people have. We work in close quarters with the whole team where everyone is ready to share experiences, help with work questions, or give restaurant recommendations. I am able to learn about every part of the company from people who are happy to answer my questions.
Interning at a startup means you get to work in a casual, friendly environment with the ability to try many new things—everyone is happy to have help and you are treated as a capable worker from day one. From sitting in on meetings to doing tangible implementable work to presenting at the team meeting my experience has allowed me to learn across a range of areas and the flexibility has allowed me to enjoy my summer in the Big Apple. I am able to leave work while the sun is still shining, meet friends and family for dinner, and explore the city I’m living in. I work with a close team and get to help shape the course of my time here. It provides all the building blocks necessary to have an enjoyable and impactful summer.