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Why I Turned Down the Big Companies to Intern with a Small Business

Going through the job search process while having to juggle the stressors of college life is not an easy task. To make it even worse, you are surrounded by people who have a similar educational background as you, and the differentiators begin to fade. Peers begin to talk with each other; “did you get an interview here? It would be a good internship, that company is very well-known.” Everyone seems to be competing for the internships at the same 3 companies.

What many college students don’t understand is the valuable experience of working at a small company; one that might not be on everyone’s application list.

To start, working at a smaller company gives you a different kind of internship experience. You will be trained to be a jack-of-all-trades instead of being in a set department with structured duties. When starting my internship, I had no idea I would be participating in client-facing SAP IBP demos. After a few weeks in, I realized how valuable and unique of an experience it is to be able to both sit in and present to a potential client. Those client demos have taught me how to problem solve on my feet, how to translate technical jargon into language anyone can understand, and I’ve learned more about IBP from the experience than any webinar or booklet could teach me. At a small business, you might be thrown into situations that you are uncomfortable with, but you learn so much more than staying in a comfortable situation for your entire internship.

Working at a small company also leads to a tight-knit community and helps the transition from college to professional life. Being able to walk into the office and not only know everyone’s names, titles, and areas of expertise, but also their hometowns, hobbies, and spouses’ names makes me feel much more comfortable at work and contributes to the extremely positive environment I work in every day. The work-life balance is something that everyone at SCMC values and was something I was looking for in an internship. I was completely willing to spend long days in the office, working hard to get everything done, but I’ve also realized how much I appreciate being able to see a movie after work with friends or go for a run on the lakefront. Having my last real summer almost behind me now, I am lucky I chose to intern at a place so welcoming and valuing of employees’ personal time.

Interning at a smaller company has taught me also how to run a business, how to bring in new clients, and the true spirit of entrepreneurship. Due to the small nature of SCMC, I have been able to see the process of building up a company. Before interning, I thought my interest in entrepreneurship was fairly low since I wasn’t sure the whole process was for me.

woman writing on whiteboard
Adding "Graphic Design" to my resume

 Now, a little over a month into my internship, I see the work, time, and preparation behind shaping the company, and it excites me. I could see how, after a couple of decades of structured work experience, I would enjoy being an entrepreneur. I never would have been able to see this side of business without the experience at SCMC, and I am grateful for the opportunity to learn even more about myself, which only working at a small company could bring about.

So before you go through recruitment in the fall and decide to apply to the same job thousands of other students are also applying for, take a minute to do some research: peruse your college job portal, go to career fairs and talk to the company you’ve never heard of, click on that company that just came up on your LinkedIn feed. There are millions of companies that you’ve never seen that might be able to give you a better experience than you would’ve expected.

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