Students find success with internships at smaller companies

When seeking summer internships college students often try and find employment at big-name organizations in the hopes of adding it to their resumes in the fall. Sometimes, however, a position at a smaller, lesser-known company can provide much more experience and opportunities. Courtesy of URJA Beauty

By Jillian Veldey | Reporter

When seeking summer internships, college students often try and find employment opportunities at big-name organizations in hopes of adding it to their resumes in the fall. Some students found, however, a position at a smaller, lesser-known company can provide just as much, if not more experience and opportunities.

Phoenix sophomore Leila Grant, a journalism, public relations major with a minor in business, is currently working for URJA Beauty as a social media marketing intern.

Grant said her boss gives her the freedom to choose the projects she wants to work on, which she may not have been able to do if she were interning for a larger company. Additionally, Grant said the smaller size of the business has given her more opportunities to build a strong professional relationship with her boss.

“I actually feel like I’m making a difference in the company,” Grant said. “My mentality is kind of to do as much as I can on my end with social media and blog posts so [my boss] can work on the other things that matter more. The only difficult thing about working for a smaller company I guess would be that things aren’t as set in stone and they’re constantly changing … but I do enjoy the fact that every week isn’t the exact same in terms of my tasks.”

The ability to learn directly from people in executive positions seems to be the common benefit students shared when working for a smaller company.

Powell, Ohio, junior Andrew Bendick is a finance and economics major who interned at Vision 4 Fund Distributors under the vice president of sales last summer. He said his daily responsibilities included emails and phone calls to clients, setting up meetings and reviewing points of contact.

“There were a few times we had direct contact with the CEO which was cool,” Bendick said. “I was able to have a more client-facing role, meaning I was able to speak directly with clients on more than one occasion which is uncommon in larger companies’ internship programs.”

Many students said it is because of their experiences at smaller companies that they feel ready to succeed at a bigger company.

Waco senior Kerry Burkley, who is currently an intern at First Woodway Baptist Church, said it was what he learned from his smaller home church that then prepared him to work at a much larger congregation.

“My biggest takeaway from this internship was just getting comfortable in uncomfortable situations,” Burkley said. “At first, it was not easy adjusting to a larger church scene compared to my home church … My boundaries extend even farther now that I’m becoming more comfortable in a different setting.”

Orange Calif., junior Lexy Norman worked as an intern for BrandingBusiness, a brand strategy firm in California. Norman said the opportunities she had at this smaller firm were unmatched.

“The benefits of working for a smaller company was how hands-on I got to be,” Norman said. “I learned so much from that internship because of how close the team was with management. I was editing PowerPoints for our CEO to pitch to prospective clients, something that you probably can’t get at a larger company, [let alone] be in direct contact with the CEO. Like the culture and closeness of a small company, I feel like I learned so much more than I would have at a multi-million dollar company.”