Should You Intern at a Startup?

It is a hard truth that good internships are hard to find. Thus, students have to gravitate to startups for securing an internship. There is nothing inherently wrong with interning at a startup. It is just that a bad startup does no good. The benefits of an internship at a startup become lies at a bad startup. Few days into the internship, the student finds herself doing the tasks the core team would never do themselves.

Here are nine pointers you can use to evaluate a startup:

1. Are the founders from a reputed college? To some extent, it affirms that the founding team is of a certain caliber.

2. Have the founders registered their startup? Registering a business takes a small effort and money. It says that founders are serious about it. It will further provide credibility to your internship certificate.

3. Have they provided a formal offer letter? You should ask for a formal offer letter before initiating your internship. It should contain details of your working hours, scope & quantum of your work and compensation.

4. Has the startup secured seed-funding or pre-seed funding at least? It can act as a no brainer for you. If you get a good opportunity at a funded startup, take it. 5. How many interns are interning at the startup? You should ideally stay away from startups where the number of interns employed is more than the number of full-time employees.

6. Does it have a proper office or place of operation? Many startups don’t have a proper office because the founders intend to save costs. Thus, this point should be judged in conjunction with the others.

7. What is the nature of your internship? Is the role enabling you to learn new things? Or is that the work you are doing is menial and boring?

8. What is the growth rate of the startup? You can judge the growth or pace of the startup in terms of the number of active users, revenue, content created, etc. You should not intern at a startup where it takes weeks to get things done. Such startups don’t usually lead anywhere and are the result of unmotivated or unfocused founders.

9. Are founders employed full-time? This point strengthens the belief of the founders in their idea and that the startup is profitable enough to cover the founders’ salaries.

You’ll most probably get a certificate even if you intern at a bad startup. However, don’t expect it to add much value to your profile or resume. While taking an interview, almost all HRs ask students about the nature of the work done in the internship. You better have an answer worth telling.

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