5 reasons to intern at a small business - insights from our Height interns

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Here are some top reasons why interning at a small business is just as valuable as experience gained with a large corporate.

Every student knows how stressful researching and applying for internships can be. What many don't know is that you don’t have to stick to the big corporates – interning at a small business can be just as (or even more) awesome. From two current interns, here are five reasons to intern at a small business.

1. Ownership and responsibility

In a small business, you get given responsibility for projects and deliverables almost immediately. Due to their limited resources, they need to trust you early on – whether that means one-on-one client visits, working with confidential information or being involved with strategic decision-making. The challenge here is you have to learn fast to keep up with information and responsibility thrown your way from day one. Say yes and then figure out how to do it!

2. Diversity of experience At Height, interns write reports, edit contracts, facilitate innovation workshops and so much more. The diversity of experience is massive compared to the niche roles you would fill in a larger organisation. There is something uniquely satisfying about a role where you construct your desk on the first day and present to a client’s leadership team one month in.

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3. Listening and being heard – your opinion counts! Small businesses have to be great listeners to understand what their customers, suppliers and other stakeholders need. If they don’t, they will be out-competed by a larger or more relevant competitor. This means that they’re great at listening to you, even as an intern. When you contribute it’s exciting to see your suggestions in the products delivered to clients. To succeed, you need to learn to be just as good a listener as your team.

4. Being part of a small team

Over the course of two months, you get close enough to tease your boss about his ancient car and remember the names of your colleagues’ spouses and children. When you work in a small team, they quickly become your friends. But if you feel like you don’t fit in with the crew, it might be a rough few months. Don’t be afraid to ask to meet the team when you apply. Most of all, don’t accept a role if you’re certain you won’t be happy there.

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5. Flexible working arrangements Flexible working arrangements are a big perk of interning at a small business. Everyone knows what everyone else is doing, so you’re trusted to work from home or leave early to shoot off to your personal trainer. The downside is you have to manage your workload carefully and make things happen close to deadlines. You get used to going home anytime from midday to 10pm.

Interning at a small business doesn’t have to be your second choice; they are competitive, well-rounded experiences where you face a new challenge everyday. If this sounds like you, just go for it!

About the Authors – Interns at Height:

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Jade Crawford – Recent University of Auckland Graduate, Majors: Accounting, Geography, Management and Psychology, third culture kid and gym bunny

Patrick Williams – Third Year at University of Canterbury, Majors: Finance and Accounting, road hazard (cyclist) and weekend adventurer