Working with global startups, I’ve found there is always a need for interns. Many companies even have an open call for applicants, which means they get many resumes and conduct many interviews. The tricky part is, while the resume tells experience, it doesn’t show personality and fit, which means the interview is pretty important. Furthermore, global startups look for unique candidates that can easily work remotely without many directions. If you’re looking to intern with a dynamic global startup, then here are some tips.
Present Yourself Appropriately
You’re not Zuckerberg yet, so ditch the hoodie and hat for now. Though startups are way more laid back than your corporate internships, it doesn’t mean you should dress like that for the interview (even over video). When I see inappropriate outfits while interviewing interns, it just says to me ‘I don’t take this seriously.’ It’s not to say you should wear a suit, but this is a job interview, so look nice.
Explain How You’ll Fit with the Team
For many international startups, it’s fine if you don’t have experience, what’s important is that you fit in the team. Startups are usually very small teams, so having a very dominating intern come in is not going to be a good thing. You must be able to give the team something they don’t already have — how can you help this startup? Why are you a good fit for the team? Be prepared to answer that in the interview.
You’ll also want to discuss how you’ll fit in an international climate. There are probably team members from all over the world, so stress any languages you know or even travel.
Tell How you Went Above and Beyond
The great thing about interning at a startup is you get to do many duties that larger companies won’t let interns do. You may help with pitch decks, product management, etc., so your job will probably not be running errands – especially if working remotely. But, you will be expected to go above and beyond – doing things outside of a typical job description. In the interview, come with an example of how you went above and beyond in your experience – this will show dedication.
Show you are Flexible
Maybe your experience has all been very corporate internships – which is fine! It’s important to show the startup team that you can adapt to any changes – whether it’s team members leaving or the product changing, startups always have to adapt to change in the market, so showing you can do this is a definite plus.
Show you Want It
Startups look for dedication. They want to hire someone who wants to be on the team, not someone who is looking to beef up their resume. Even if you have absolutely no experience, if you can show that you want to work with the company — by researching the company, proving you’re a fit, and telling how you can help make the startup better (not in an overly confident way) — you have a good chance at getting the job. In the end, startups look for people who want to be on the team and will try their hardest on a daily basis.
Again, just because it’s a startup, doesn’t mean teams don’t like some corporate practices. I like when interns follow up with thank you emails that aren't just "thanks for your time." In your email, discuss points talked about in the interview, why you want this position and availability. Also, include a writing sample in case your interviewers are on the fence — maybe this will tip you over.
Interning at a startup is a great way to gain experience that you probably won’t get at a larger company. Working with a close-knit group, you can make a difference in the business, but you have to want it to get in the door.