Is interning at a startup really worth it?

Author Avatar Amy Habib wrote this on Feb 23, 2018

Intern turned marketing and CS full-timer Amy interviews former Bonjoro interns to find out whether interning at a start-up is as good as it's cracked up to be.

On my last day of interning at Bonjoro I had a sudden realisation that my internship was far from the ordinary. For me, it was more like extraordinary.

Let’s go back to three months prior to my first day. Sweaty handed, dressed to meet HRH Queen Elizabeth and extremely baby-faced, all that was going through my head was “get ready to be serving tea and photocopying for three months, Amy.” And don’t forget the most important part of the “stereotypical internship” portrayed in any film - doing the jobs that no one wants to do.

But I experienced none of the above (apart from making teas for everyone, but that was just because I wanted to). What I did experience was something far better than what I could have imagined. So much so that I went and sought out previous Bonjoro interns and interviewed them to see whether they got the same experience.

So without further ado, let me introduce to you the four wonderful ex-Bonjoro interns (including myself) and their honest opinion of interning at Bonjoro:

Meet Sam- Data Analysis Intern

Hey, I’m Sam! I’ve beaten every single Pokémon game known to mankind and I interned at Bonjoro over the summer of 2017. At a corporate company, you get a rigid program and lots of content. At a startup, it’s different. I spent probably more than 2/3 of my day just learning things I needed to do, which was an excellent fit for me. Furthermore, I got to be close to everybody in the “office” (since everyone was within arm’s reach) and got a flavour of what they did. At corporate, they would schedule shadowing time or would just offer none. Basically, corporate offers a meal, and at a startup, it’s an all you can eat buffet (and a delicious one!).

I chose to intern at a startup because I love technology and wanted to meet people who loved what they did, not just the security and paycheck of a job. I was treated exceptionally. I was only 19 but EVERYONE (and I mean every person) listened when I contributed ideas. I can’t think of one time where someone dismissed my work or ideas.

What impressed me about the culture is the pace of the ship Matt ran. Make no mistake, everyone at Bonjoro works hard. It seemed most people worked weekends or late nights for the good of the company. But everyone genuinely enjoyed working together and saw the big picture.

At big companies, people are cogs in the machine- and it works. Everybody does their job and the machine spins. But what gets people excited to do their job is great people and exciting opportunity, which is what I found at Bonjoro. Furthermore, people were welcoming and curious about what I had to offer. There were still a lot of problems I never got a chance to solve, but everyone valued the information I did come up with. Everyone was also generous with advice, coffee, and lunch invitations. I felt like I was part of the crew and I know that should not be taken for granted and I am thankful for it.

Favourite Memory: Getting to walk an investor through some of the statistics I was compiling. I realized afterwards that I had just used something I built to flex the awesomeness of Bonjoro for a big-time investor. Made me feel like a true data scientist.

Meet Dalvin – Web Development Intern

Hey, I’m Dalvin and, I was a web developer intern at Bonjoro last summer. I loved working at a startup, especially Bonjoro. Matt from the very beginning told me that to put in as much as I wanted into the company, which was a totally different from any methodology of management or working that I’ve ever encountered. Usually, in big corporate companies, you’re given a strict time frame with little room to navigate. However, working at Bonjoro I was given the flexibility to work on my own time.

Ultimately, this allowed me to put more hours into the job because I was motivated to keep working even when I did not have to. This meant I was usually the last person to leave the office and would catch Matt and the other guys just as they were leaving, because I was at school during the day. I knew from the start there were going to be points where I had to dig deep and be independent, and I was lucky that the team respected me and would help anytime I needed help.

The energy I felt from Matt when I initially interviewed with him gave me positive vibes and let me know that Bonjoro was a great place for me to work and build my skills. Since I went to school and worked at the same time, I spent most of my time working late hours. Working at a start-up you have to have a level of independence. Bonjoro’s culture impressed me because it allowed me to come as I am. This shows how open and embracing the team at Bonjoro truly is and we're always looking to hear feedback about my experiences.

Favourite memory: My best memory of Bonjoro was having our weekly team meetings. This is when the team would go over the numbers and talk about their various successes and drawbacks throughout the month and lay out their plan of attack. I loved how laid back the meetings were. I remember the one time I made a store run in a Winnie the Pooh costume through the streets of Sydney, Australia. In my mind, I still am in the land down under living my best life.

Meet Melanie - Business Development Intern

I loved working at a startup, especially at the beginning of my career, because I think that it allows you to be exposed to so many different areas of a business rather than working in a traditional corporate internship where you are typically assigned to a particular department doing similar tasks on a daily basis. Working with a small start-up team allows you to assume many different responsibilities. I also think it is valuable to understand how a business gets started from an idea to the creation of a product and finally to providing that product to the public and monitoring its success.

When I interned with Bonjoro I was entering my Junior year of college and I was trying to figure out where my passions and skills fit into the professional world. I thought that working with a startup would allow me to experience many aspects of a business and have a more diverse learning experience than a traditional corporate internship. I really liked the idea of learning about what it takes to be an entrepreneur and how to launch a successful business.

From the first day, we were really treated as a part of the team rather than just an intern. We were given a lot of autonomy to participate in a wide variety of tasks and we were often given the opportunity to use our own creative ideas and contribute to the team. It was a very friendly and supportive atmosphere, which allowed us to freely bounce ideas off each other without fear of rejection or embarrassment. It was a great environment to learn and be collaborative.

I wish I could have spent more time working with Bonjoro, especially after the launch, to see how all of the research comes together to create the final product. The Bonjoro team is just a great group of people. It is clear that they are all very close and have a lot of respect for each other and that makes it very easy for new members of the team to join in and feel comfortable. I think a lot of creative minds working together will always produce the best result and the culture at Bonjoro definitely promotes collaboration and teamwork.

Favourite memory: I think my favourite memory (besides the trip to the blue mountains!) would be when Alexis and I went out into the city to record Bonjoros for prospective users and test the product. We had a really fun time actually using the product and interacting with people.

Meet Amy - Marketing Intern

Hey, I’m Amy and I was a social media and marketing intern (and may I add the first UK intern) for 4 months. As a graduate fresh out of uni with a degree in Drama & Theatre I can definitely say that this was not where I thought I would be interning. It was thanks to my brother that I even thought of looking at startups, and thank the lord for that. Because this internship was far better that I ever thought it could be. The independence I received during this internship was immense. Not only did they leave me in charge of their social media but they also let me send Bonjoros to new customers. Now if that isn’t one of a kind, then I don’t know what is.

From day one, it wasn’t the “stereotypical internship”: imagine My Big Fat Greek Wedding but the startup version. It was like entering a massive diverse family that appreciated your similarities and differences. Plus, it’s not normal for an intern to speak directly to the CEO and say what they think without being turned down negatively or fired on the spot. Matt was actually far from it, he loves feedback!

Working alongside Amaan, Oli and Chorlie in the UK office was a true pleasure, they always made time to help me out even when they were super busy (thanks, guys!). Without the help of everyone on the team, I would not have learnt so much about the ins and outs of how a business works. They also went along with some of my wacky ideas, for example, the (infamous?) Christmas video. Near, Far, wherever they were, they always had a positive attitude to working with each other with the aim of making Bonjoro flourish.

Favourite Memory: Finally meeting all the team together in Australia after multiple team calls over Skype. Oh and watching Charlie and Simon fall during paddle boarding [editor’s note – Charlie only fell off the paddleboard because of equipment problems and had no problems once he’d sorted them out. It’s definitely nothing to do with his terrible balance].

So let’s conclude this in style. To answer the big question on whether working at a startup is worth it, YES it is. Every single member of a startup has the passion to see their company grow and flourish which creates a positive and creative atmosphere. Where the respect of others is honoured and hierarchy is excluded in order to build a positive working space that encourages conversation and creativity.

Have you interned at a startup? Would you like to? Get in touch on our Twitter, @bonjoroapp, and let us know.

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