5 Keys To Getting An Internship At A Tech Startup
Whether it involves an internship at a tech startup or a major corporation, the qualifications are really quite similar. The only difference for startups has to do with a greater emphasis on how well you fit in with the rest of the company and your teammates. Startups usually have less individuals than larger corporations, so preserving a productive social dynamic through healthy interpersonal relationships receives more attention.
Getting an internship at a tech startup will depend initially on your credentials and your skill set. It's a given that you'll need to pass the minimum technical requirements for a startup if you want to be accepted into an internship program at the place. Afterwards, interviewers and their questions will likely focus on how your personality intersects with your skills and what it means for the rest of the team at the startup.
Here are some specifics on what to look out for when you're aiming to land an internship at your dream company.
1. Sell Your Skills Well on Your Résumé
There's likely a lot of skills and activities you've been involved in at this point in your career. When applying for a marketing job in comparison to a technology job, you'll want to emphasize different coursework and relevant experiences for each. Looking at the type of work that your prospective employers are involved in and then selecting experiences that are most relevant to that work will drastically improve how your resume turns out. It will also greatly boost your résumé's immediate impact.
Let's take a closer look at how you might aim to achieve this effect for startups that are recruiting. First you'll need to look into the specializations of that startup. Most companies will generously list the types of skills they require for specific roles at online recruitment sites like Angel.co.
Figure 1: Sample listing for technology internships on Angel.co, showing two job categories with each of the necessary skills. From this point on, listing the classes that demonstrate your proficiency in the skills a startup wants and refining it to reflect the values of the company will boost your chances greatly.
2. Invest Time Into Researching the Culture and Values of a Startup
As mentioned before, the second-most important aspect of getting an internship at a startup is ensuring that you're a good fit. You'll want to include elements on your startup and edit your answers to expected interview questions in a way that drops hints about how your personal values match well with the values of a specific startup.
Most companies assert their culture and what their business is about openly. Take for instance LeadCrunch's piece on what constitutes the pillars of their company culture. If you can locate information or speeches made by the leaders of that company that give a definitive statement on their culture and values then you'll be able to put yourself in a much better position when it comes time to present yourself to an actual person.
3. Have Other Skills That Set You Apart
For many companies, finding a skilled applicant that fits the role of a job is already a decent catch. However, you'll need to demonstrate proficiency in a number of other important skill areas like leadership if you're looking to really set yourself apart from the rest of the applicant pool and appear more well-rounded. Creative skills that can better help a company visualize its branding and conceptual goals in addition are an example of a skill that's unrelated to technology but still highly valuable to any startup company.
After you've ensured that you've covered your bases with respect to your skills and your familiarity with a company's culture, you'll want to focus on how to best differentiate yourself from the other applicants and really stick out to better your chances.
4. Network, Network, Network
In the end, startups and companies in general are all composed of people. So who you know and how you leverage your relationships will make a huge difference for any company you're looking to land an internship with. Networking has become an increasingly important part of the internship process especially when more competitive and desirable internships are concerned.
The benefits of networking are huge. Just imagine the advantages you'd have if you could say that you've had a dinner with the CEO of a startup before your internship application. Fortunately, with the prevalence of platforms like LinkedIn, networking and building relationships that are meaningful is much easier.
5. Apply to Many Internships
If you've got the right skill set along with the right mindset, then finding a suitable internship really will turn into a numbers game. It's not uncommon for enthusiastic people to apply to 15 or 20 internships in an attempt to broaden the opportunities and choices available to them. There's not really a penalty to applying to more internships other than the amount of work and research you put into the application process, there's nothing stopping you from applying to 20 internships in contrast to applying for 20 credit cards. If you have the qualifications, time, and energy, what's left to stop you?