My First Internship at a Start-up

Having only been on an internship with Inspiring Interns for a week, one very important aspect of working with a start-up has really crystallised in my mind and this is the fact that is it crucial to be RESOURCEFUL. Whether it’s using your contacts, or doing research, what is important is that information (or indeed help) is obtained in a cost-efficient and timely manner. It is all too easy to fall into the trap of feeling helpless, especially if you’re starting out at a new company, but if you make the most of what is available, the company and your skills will develop exponentially. Creating synergies is so much more important in a young start-up because nothing comes for free, so knowing exactly what your company’s assets are and how to use them is important.

I believe that if you are in the right job, your willingness to be resourceful will not be limited to just office hours. Ideally, research should continue all the time. Anyone with an interest in how their business progresses should be reading the newspapers everyday to keep up-to-date with what is going on in the industry, what is happening to your competitors and parties of interest, and what is going on generally. Networking also becomes much easier when you are up-to-date with current affairs and this WILL pay dividends. Even in the week that I’ve been working here, I’ve made use of my own contacts, to add value to this company. Mingling maven Susan RoAne preaches in her books and seminars the importance of networking. A really great example of the power of networking can be found on her website (http://www.susanroane.com/). She says “When I ask my audiences how many of them have learned of at least one of their jobs through another person, about 80% of the group raises their hand.” It’s a mystery that with so much potential arising from networking, more people don’t do it.

I’ve listened to a number of famous and successful entrepreneurs speak on behalf of Oxford Entrepreneurs (http://www.oxfordentrepreneurs.co.uk/), and from them, one message is clear. This is that one of the key qualities that separate the successful businessmen from the unsuccessful ones is their ability to spot opportunities. Whilst it is difficult to quickly gain this skill (as I believe it becomes much easier and more instinctive with experience), I have found that doing your research will really help you make the most of such opportunities. Really clarifying the facts and working with whatever is available to you is crucial for taking advantage of your own assets. Once you really understand the organisation or the industry in which you want to work, aligning your strategies will significantly increase your chances of success.

My advice for interns beginning the exciting experience of working at a start-up is simply to really get involved in as much as you can. Whether it’s working with the partners to create a strategy for future ventures, or writing a blog to contribute to the social media side of the business, throwing yourself into the role will really help you learn. And at the end of the day, if you’re hoping to start your own business or you want to work with a captain of industry, these kinds of skills will get you places.

Hayato Maeda – 4th Year Engineering student at Trinity College, University of Oxford and Co-Director of The Oxprentice series of events for Oxford Entrepreneurs.

If you would like to hear more, get in contact: hayato.maeda@trinity.ox.ac.uk

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