It's hard to believe that my work-placement with Fownd is almost coming to an end. Before I return to the Netherlands to continue 2 more years of University, I would like to share my experience working as a marketing intern for the past four months. I also find it hard to believe that Fownd belongs to the SME category, especially looking at the number of vehicles it supplies per day.
Approximately 200 of my fellow students are also currently doing work-placements all over the world in a variety of companies. After comparing my experience with several friends working in larger organisations, I managed to distinguish 7 reasons why I would recommend doing a work-placement with a smaller organisation.
1. Large company ≠ great working experience
When our University mentors told us to find a company, most of us were convinced that a larger company would mean a better work-placement. Although it's mainly up to the company's intern policy, the size of the company has a lot to do with what you will be able to do regarding daily tasks, main assignments, etc. What larger companies tend to do is find an intern to learn the pure basics of a certain department and trial them for a possible future career in that position with potential to grow, in other words, start from rock bottom. Smaller companies on the other hand have a smaller hierarchical structure, allowing you to start from a more senior position and enjoy more responsibility (point 3).
2. Never get bored
Working for a smaller company will give you the opportunity to do a lot more than just your specific job title. The Managing Director originally recruited me to be responsible for social media. Looking back over the past months, I can tell you that I have spent a lot of my time on tasks completely unrelated to social media. I have participated at networking events, designed brochures, optimised the website and attended vehicle shows.
3. More Responsibility
This may sound scary to those looking for their first working-experience, but trust me, it is very satisfying to gain the freedom of making decisions without having to discuss them with senior management every step of the way. Having to represent the company on a daily basis in several ways can be a sometimes stressful, but fun experience. One intern told me that he is only allowed to enter numbers into a data-base all day, another said she only received the jobs that no one else wanted to do. This can result in boredom, which is not something you want to experience when trying to develop new skills and accomplishments for your future career. Keep in mind that this can also occur in a smaller company too, it mainly depends on your company mentor and job description.
4. Get your first feel of what management would feel like
International & Business Management Studies tries to teach us most aspects of management; unfortunately it has all been explained using examples from books. Sooner or later most people following this course hope to one day reach management level in their career. Working for a smaller company can give you the feel of what it would be like to run a department. Undertaking the social media experiment and determining whether this activity has a future or not is a similar decision to what managers will have to make in large-scale companies. A friend responsible for sales in a similar size company to Fownd has even been handed over her manager's role while he is away on holiday!
5. Test your creative skills
Working for a small company will usually result in fewer guidelines regarding the interns. In my case, I received all the login details to the website, social media platforms, etc. and the rest was completely up to me. There wasn't anyone looking constantly over my shoulder checking if I was doing the ‘correct' thing. This was quite daunting at first but has enabled me to test my creative skills to the full extent and use my initiative. Creating blog topics, content for social media and advertising campaigns were just the beginning. In fact, these 3 points are already standard activities on my daily to-do-lists. The challenge I now face is to come up with new ideas for the company, investigate possibilities to generate new leads, evaluate how the enquiry process can be made easier or prepare a handover for the person/company taking over my role
6. Get to know the company inside out
This point is important to those who would like to start up their own business one day. Working for a smaller company will give you an insight as to how different departments function. Fownd's main office has an open plan layout, which gives the staff quick access to other departments. This has allowed me to keep an eye/ear on all the things going on in the company. Not only does this help me produce new content, it has also helped me to understand the core fundamentals of this organisation.
7. Understand the goals, mission and objectives
Large companies usually give their employees a manual to understand the organisation's values. The main problem that these companies face is the difficulty of explaining the feel of the organisation in written text. In a smaller company, a manual isn't always necessary as you are surrounded by most of the company staff during working hours.
At the end of the day it comes down to personal preference and to what environment and job description would benefit you the most. A large company is preferable if you would like the opportunity to climb the ladder and have a more recognisable/impressive company name on your résumé. If you would like to obtain more responsibility and a more varied experience, then the smaller company is the better option for you. I recommend trying a work-placement in both a small and large company so you can see the pros and cons of each environment for yourself.