Every company was a startup at some point.

The difference is that today the word ‘startup’ means a lot more than simply a company taking its first steps.

Startups tend to do things a bit differently, from company culture and hierarchy to the individual responsibilities given to each team member.

Internships are all about learning new things. The experience you will gain as an intern at a startup will be quite different to what you would get at an established global brand.

Despite what an instantly recognizable multi-national company can do to your CV, interning at a startup can be an extremely beneficial way to begin your career.

At a startup you will be closer to the heart of the company, and will as a result be more exposed to strategic decision-making and high-level discussions. You will also be given the chance to step up, using whatever skills you have to contribute to the company’s mission.

What’s more, you’ll probably have a lot of fun.

Here are 5 benefits to doing an internship at a startup.

1) Responsibility

As an intern at a startup, you’ll want to be ready to work.

Interns aren’t just there to make up the numbers. Unlike at larger companies, interns are hired more directly at startups, responding to current gaps in the workforce and with specific projects and tasks to get involved in from day one.

You will be hired on the basis of the skills you can bring to the team, and will be expected to contribute to the work as far as those skills allow. From the off, you might find yourself drawing up communications strategies or designing new brand visuals for the company website.

At a startup you will not be taken less seriously just because you are an intern. Your ideas and opinions will be taken into consideration regardless of your status.

Potentially, you can play a major part in the projects you’re involved in – doing wonders for your cover letter.

2) Exposure

Large multi-national companies are typically highly structured, with each department and team separate from the rest.

Startups are at the other end of the scale.

Collaboration is held in high regard in the startup world. Effort is taken to bring teams together, and for projects to cut across different departments.

As an intern at a startup there are no limits to who you might be working closely with. It will just depend on where the tasks and projects you’re assigned to end up going.

This will allow you to see other job roles and fields up close, getting a sense of what different parts of a business actually do.

This include the executive team. Strict hierarchies tend to be eschewed at startups, and it is not uncommon for interns to be working alongside senior staff from time to time, giving them a rare glimpse into life at the top of an organization.

3) Visibility

As a result of your responsibilities and the extent of collaboration across teams, you will be highly visible as an intern at a startup.

At large companies it can be easy to disappear into your work, interacting only with the people directly responsible for you and a handful of colleagues.

At a startup you can expect to get more of an opportunity to shine, and consequently will find yourself under slightly greater pressure to perform. As internships should be judged on what experiences and accomplishments you can get out of them, this is no bad thing.

By forming a more valued part of the team, interns will work more directly with colleagues and senior staff, offering the chance for you to learn more, make a better impression, and grow your network successfully.

4) Culture

Startups are renowned for their focus on enjoying work.

Beyond the opportunity to gain far-reaching experience, as an intern at a startup you will also be given the opportunity to take part in social events and a range of fun activities with your new colleagues.

Downtime is taken seriously by startups as a way to refresh minds and stay efficient, while the emphasis on socializing and group activities also helps to create bonds between colleagues, boosting company-wide collaboration.

All this doesn’t mean people working at startups take it easy. In fact, it’s quite the opposite.

People at startups tend to be passionate about what they do, and extremely motivated to achieve their goals. Being an intern in this environment can be inspiring, helping to fuel your ambitions for your future career.

5) Opportunity

While the big draw of an internship at an established multi-national is being able to write it on your CV, the opportunities granted by interning at a startup are more numerous – and potentially greater.

Firstly, by getting to know your colleagues – both personally and professionally – including the company’s leadership and other senior staff, you will do your network the world of good, expanding it to impressive proportions.

Secondly, you’ll stand a great chance of landing a permanent job. Startups tend to focus a lot more on building the right team of people, rather than hiring only as and when certain skills are needed. Make a good impression, and you’ll most likely land yourself a job with lots of potential for growth.

Thirdly, startups tend to be going places. A small company full of dreams and potential today could be the envy of a whole industry tomorrow. Your relationship with that company may serve you very well in future.