Have you ever considered joining a start-up? The start-up scene can be daunting, but it's also one of the best training grounds for a college intern to learn and grow. Here is what I have learnt over the summer, and my advice for working at a small tech company.
1. Don’t Be Afraid to Ask Questions
When in doubt, ask someone; there’s no such thing as a dumb question, so it’s better to ask than to jump to conclusions and make your own assumptions. The thing about working at a startup is that everyone has their own unique skill and speciality, but no one person will have all the answers you’re looking for - and that includes the founders. So don't be afraid, ask as many questions as you want. Not only will you be able to find the answers and value-add to the company, but you’ll be respected for your inquisitive mind as a bonus.
2. Take Initiative
Everything is almost always broken to some degree when working at an up and coming company. Its important to be able to recognise the areas in which more work needs to be done, and most of all, take the initiative to complete it if you can. This is the hallmark of a healthy early-stage startup - when employees are motivated to go the extra mile through their own volition. Momentum is so important for a company at this stage, so keep at it. Taking the easy route can be tempting, but your hard work will be rewarded in the long run.
3. Communication is Key
Making sure everyone is on the same page is hard work, yet it’s a crucial part in keeping a business flowing smoothly. Especially when it’s a start-up team, everyone is always busy trying to complete their work to have the time to ask you for things more than once. Make sure to stay on top by keeping everyone in the loop to ensure a successful project by the end. It also gives you a go-getter image, which could never hurt.
4. Be an Organized Multitasker
This brings me to my next point - time management. With your responsibilities starting to pile up, things can start to feel overwhelming at times. Sometimes you don't have the time to do things one by one - so multitask. Multitasking can be confusing, and if you’re not careful things could easily slip through the cracks. To avoid missing anything, create a system for yourself to make sure you know exactly what you have on your plate. A planner would prove immensely helpful to give yourself some structure to follow here.
5. Failures are Lessons Learned
And finally, the most important lesson of all - learn from your mistakes. Failures and mistakes are inevitable, accept them as part of the learning process. Seek challenges and face them head-on, because failures are the best teachers and it will make you stronger the next time around. At a startup, its never about hitting every single target. You will make mistakes and fall short every now and then. Instead, what’s important is to have the resilience and ability to adapt, to learn from our failures and grow stronger. So don’t be afraid to make a bold step, we miss 100% of the chances we didnt take!