Peter Ballagh is Global Experiences' placement director in Dublin, Ireland. Here he lends his expertise on the advantages of start-up internships.
Every single generation needs innovation. The ideas that keep us awake at night, and those that we have yet to discover, are what keeps human progress moving forward. At their root, revolutionary ideas are created by people who thrive on making connections where none seem to exist.
You could be finding solutions to the world’s economic problems, or working towards technological advancements, perhaps seeking breakthroughs in disease treatment, along with many other twenty-first-century obstacles. Regardless what new innovation you’re working towards, most are often in the hands of the most innovative thinkers in society. The entrepreneur who pushes a new idea, along with those working tirelessly in the start-up environment, each share an unbridled enthusiasm that is contagious. This adrenaline, fueled on discovery and possibility, is the environment that makes start-ups the most exciting places work.
Start-ups are the incubator where great ideas are brewed and crafted. They are the spaces where the initial thoughts and ideas begin their long journey from conception to potential profitability and success. No innovator – whether it be Mare Curie, and her pioneering work on radioactivity, or Cheong Choon Ng, the creator of the loom band, or Tim Berners-Lee, inventor of the World Wide Web – knew at inception where their innovation would lead, or where the journey would take them. But if you’ve surrounded yourself with the right people, by the time you ultimately launch a start-up, your skills, your innovative spirit, and your collaborative effort towards a final goal will both stabilize and drive your ideas to the future. Your skills and experience - be they in design, research, communications, law, engineering, social science, marketing, environmental development - are all critically valuable to the start-up. In this type of environment, you have the opportunity to share your passions, energy and enthusiasm with like-minded innovators. This collaboration of skills and ideas provides both practical experience, and an engaging space to work in.
Most importantly, the start-up needs you. Ideas are not created in a vacuum. They are often the result of bravery and a refusal to say no. In this same sense, the start-up lives and dies upon the people who make it what it is. Your strengths, your ability to work on your own initiative, and as part of a team, your intuitiveness, and your perseverance in the face of adversity and unknowns will ultimately drive the start-up. Further, you must be willing to offer meaningful feedback and communicate your concerns and ideas with your co-workers.
What will you get from taking an international internship in a Start-up?
Not only will you get hand-on experience in your own field, but in a start-up environment, you will be expected to collaborate in all the aspects of your industry. You will have involvement in a multitude of decisions, attend meetings about critical developments, and your work will be vital in steering the start-up towards new horizons.
You will taste success, and earn the right to share in it with your team. And you will learn that there is never enough time to stand still in this exciting environment, for ultimately success has nothing to say for itself without more success. Most importantly, through your international internship in a start-up environment, you will learn how to grow from your mistakes, and how to fail better in the future. By the end of your internship you will know that there is always more to do, always more great people to meet, and many more ideas to test, in hopes that they too will also sail. An international internship in a start-up environment will provide you will the confidence you need to move forward in your career, no matter what industry you find yourself in.
Great start-ups need passionate, resourceful people. Your enthusiasm and positivity will ultimately drive a start-up forward. The start-up is the laboratory where great ideas are cultivated. In our ever-shifting job market, it is also the venue where many of us will find employment and careers. These exciting incubators are constantly focused on change and innovation, all while tearing up the rules of conventional work practices. Long after you have returned home, you will be savoring in the success of something you have helped build. Who knows, with your experience, maybe you will be part of that future as well.