In the past year, I have been lucky enough to intern twice. Over the summer, I worked full-time for a large consumer packaged goods company (CPG), and during the fall semester, I worked part-time for a small startup company. Both are great experiences and I was lucky to learn a ton, but are very different. I will go into the pros and cons of working for each type of company, as well as how I found each internship.
I found the internship at the large CPG through LinkedIn and really enjoyed working there. Some benefits for working for a large company are as follows:
- Resources: A lot of companies needed to drop their internship programs because of COVID, but large companies had the resources to manage any COVID related disruptions as well as hire interns
- Training: I had over 50 hours of training this summer, and it was largely because the company could afford to invest in us
- Global reach: Some interns needed to be moved to different offices because of time zone issues, and with such a large company with offices worldwide, this was fairly simple to do
- A number of people: I really liked getting to meet people virtually while working in different functional areas and different locations, and I also loved being in a cohort of interns.
Some of the less-than-ideal parts of working for any large company are as follows:
- The bureaucracy: Most large organizations can become fairly bureaucratic
- Visibility: Because there is so much happening at once in so many different areas, it can be hard to know exactly what is going on
Working for a small startup is an entirely different experience. I found the opportunity through a student organization listserv. The most tangible pros and cons are below.
- Creative control: In a small startup, one person can be the entire marketing team. Due to that, you get a lot of control and flexibility over what you do and how
- Strong relationships: There normally are not many people in a startup, so it is easy to get to know everyone very well rather quickly. When compared to a large company, I see a quality vs quantity tradeoff here. At a startup, you are more likely to have a few really strong relationships, whereas you get to know more people at a large company.
- Visibility: When the whole company is focused on one main activity or objective, it is fairly easy to see everything happening and get to learn from it all. For example, as I observe the co-founders, I see how incredibly difficult it is to start a company!
- Training: There is less formal training given that there might be fewer people at each level of experience to train all at once, and fewer resources to invest in training
All in all, most workplaces have strengths and weaknesses based on a variety of factors. My narrow sample size of work has enabled me to make a few observations about different work environments, and I am so thankful for the opportunity to work during this pandemic.