Startup vs MNC: Where should you go for your first internship?

Picture this: You’re on the cusp of a summer or winter break, thinking about ways to fill your days. Why not get a taste of the working world through an internship? The hardest part in applying for a first internship is the debate of startup vs MNC. The greatest dilemma most have is whether to dive into the corporate world with a Multinational Corporation (MNC) or to dip their toes into the sparkly world of startups.

Well, no matter which one you choose, rest assured that both experiences will be extremely fruitful. To help you along your decision-making adventure, we’ve put together a handy-dandy guide to break apart the dilemma of startup vs MNC. Scroll on down to start your journey!  

Why it matters where you go for your internship

We know, we know, searching for internships can be really sian, especially if you’re unsure of what you want to try your hand at. Take it from us: sending tons of cold emails or applying for companies that you have no interest in isn’t going to benefit you in the slightest! Just hecking it won’t cut it and here’s why:

Do you want to spend your days in a dreadful working environment you unfortunately did sign up for? Pretty sure your answer is a hard no. Deciding on the sector you want to go into will be a great start to narrowing down your options! Not to mention, doing an internship in your preferred field can help to test your options before your graduate, or decide to take up a job offer.

Now here’s where it gets a little tricky. In order to find the best fit for your internship, you should first ask yourself what kind of person you are. Do you enjoy spontaneity and flexibility? Or do you prefer situations that are structured, with certain clear steps you could take?

These questions will be a stepping stone to understand the way you work. Don’t be afraid to admit that you like a little freedom, or enjoy a more static workspace, after all this is your first internship. We suggest going for something more tuned to your usual style of work, rather than plunging head first into a completely unfamiliar environment.

To understand your possible options better, here’s a rundown of the pros and cons of working in a startup, or an MNC:

The perks and challenges of working at a startup

startup vs mnc

Fun fact: huge MNCs like Amazon were once small startups! So we’ve all gotta start somewhere. Startups are a relatively new player on the company block. You probably think of a startup as a company filled with young, fresh millenials in a cool workspace—and you aren’t entirely wrong. The allure of startups lies in the fact that they’re branded as trendy, highly motivated and flexible in workflow. So, what’s up with startups?

startup vs. mnc: startup

1. Like chili padi: small, but packs a punch

The best things come in small packages. Granted, a startup is going to be a small team, and you could expect to be the only intern in the company. But that means you’ll have a greater responsibility, and also have more time to shine. Interning at a smaller company ensures that you’ll be able to make a larger impact on the company. From running your own campaigns to collaborating with your superiors to actualise projects, startups will see you truly step out of one designated role, to a whole world of possibilities.

Moreover, startup culture is extremely fast-paced. Bouncing from one location to another is all part of being a super startup intern. And although this might sometimes give you whiplash, working in an environment filled with motivated individuals will keep your energy pumping throughout your stint!

2. Crazy steep learning curve

As an intern in startup, you won’t only be tasked with doing one job. A startup needs all hands on deck. As an intern, be prepared to get your feet moving too! Unlike MNCs, the food chain in startups is more negligible. Startups run on ideas and new concepts from everyone on the team, from the founder to the intern. Hence, your ideas are the fuel for whichever startup you intern for. This encouraging work environment will propel you to be more confident in your own ideas and presentation skills.

In contrast to MNCs, the amount of resources a startup has is comparatively less. That means you’ll have to learn lots—and quickly—on the go. Compared to MNCs, startups will have a lot less hand-holding, and a lot more hustling.

3. And oh so flexible!

Which could be a double-edged sword. On one hand, the flexibility of a startup gives you the room to explore different roles. From business development to graphic design, interning at a startup may open new windows of opportunity.You might even discover a hidden talent!

But on the other, the fluidity of roles in a  startup might not give you a clear idea on what role you’re actually playing, and how to play a certain role. Also, you might end up a little dazed and confused whilst working in a fast-moving environment. Hence, you might want to try consciously reminding yourself of your goals and objectives throughout your internship, and work towards them instead.

The ups and downs of being an intern at a MNC

1. A strong sense of pride

We have to admit, working for a MNC is sure to give us a boost of confidence. Large companies tend to have more establish brand names within certain sectors. In addition, MNCs usually have stringent internship interviews in order to pick out the cream of the crop, so getting chosen comes with a huge sense of accomplishment.

In addition, MNCs are more likely to have a structured internship programme put in place compared to startups. Hence, you’ll likely be acquiring skills to actually pay the bills. MNCs will undoubtedly give you a head-start, and are a good choice if you’re looking to beef up a resume intended for the corporate world.

2. Ample resources and guidance

MNCs are like an well-oiled machine, with all its cogs in the right places. Other than a long list of employees with years of experience, MNCs also have huge amounts of resources. These include everything from the best connections, to the latest tech gadgets. Not to mention, your pay is likely to be higher than if you interned at a startup.

However, the other side of the coin is that this regimented structure might restrict your experience. Interns in MNCs usually report to higher-ups, and that’s just one notch in the chain of command. As such, you might not be able to have as much responsibility or freedom to explore other roles whilst in an MNC.

As an intern in a MNC, you’ll have excess to the company’s unlimited resources. Being able to rub shoulders with influential people in the sector can help to build your professional network, as well as grow as a potential employee through tips and tricks passed down from these experts. A large company will also offer more specialisation towards your job scope throughout the internship, which will help hone your skills in whatever area you choose to pursue.

Startup vs MNC: Which is THE ONE?

Initially, it might be a little tough trying to figure out which option is the better one for you. The best thing to do is to take a step back and draw up a table of your own characteristics and personality.

Firstly, think about your work ethic and style. Do you function better independently, or are you more comfortable working in a team setting?

Secondly, think about your personality. If you’re an energiser bunny who’s always ready for the most random challenges and tasks thrown your way, perhaps a startup might be a better fit for you. On the flipside, if you enjoy following tasks and working on a fixed timeline, an internship programme in a MNC might just be what you’re looking for.

Lastly, go with your gut! Sometimes, a company might really inspire you with their vision or product. If you feel a strong need or passion to contribute to a company, we strongly encourage you to take the leap of faith. Trusting your instinct in this case may be better than simply sticking on the safe route.

We’ve compiled all this information for you in a handy comparison chart. Click here to download it!

Be part of something bigger than you

Internships are a scary venture, especially for first timers. Instead of seeing it as startup vs MNC, we highly encourage you to venture out into the waters of both startups and MNCs to figure out which fits you best. After all, you never know until you try :-).

Bottom line is, whether you choose a startup or a MNC, take the first step. If you end up disliking your time at either one, treat it as a real-life experience. In the working world you might not always get offered the ideal opportunities, but taking obstacles in your stride might lead you the best opportunities.  

If you’re ready to put on your best intern smile, hop on over to Glints!

Link to Glints Singapore website



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