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Internship Insight: My Experience From A Fortune 50 Company To A Small Firm

While the entire point of an internship is to see if you are a good fit for a position or company, it can nonetheless be a nerve-racking experience. Applying to internships can be overwhelming as you consider what you want to do or what type of work environment you want to be in. This past year, I worked two internships. Over the summer, I worked at a Fortune 50 company (Comcast Cable) and now, I work in a smaller, but very successful fashion firm that only has fifty employees (Michele Marie Public Relations). These companies are in two different industries, but my experience with both taught me essential differences between working in a large company versus working in a smaller one. Hopefully, some of these insights can help guide you the next time you are looking for positions on LinkedIn or Handshake. 

Before I get any deeper into this article, I want to preface that I enjoyed my time at both of these companies. While the environments differ, they both have their benefits, and one is not necessarily better than the other. It is all about your personal preferences when choosing a large versus smaller company to work at. 

One of the biggest differences between a Fortune 50 and a smaller company is the environment. While the internship was virtual during my time at Comcast, I could be in meetings with hundreds of people. The specific division I interned in had roughly 30,000 employees. The videos and newsletters I worked on naturally had a greater reach of people. However, despite the company’s vast size, there was still an intimate feel when working within your team. I became close with my manager as well as my co-intern who also worked in the same department as I did.

At Michele Marie PR, it is easier to meet the majority of the people who work within the company. While I specifically assist two account executives, I’ve also helped many others. I also know more of my fellow interns because there are fewer of us, and in a smaller space, you organically get to know each other more. In every meeting, I recognize everyone. Therefore, if you like truly feeling connected to everyone around you, this company environment may be for you. The work and projects I do may not reach thousands of employees, but I still feel it has value, especially since MMPR interacts with influencers, celebrities, stylists and other people within entertainment. 

The size of the company also impacts the application process. With large companies such as Comcast, your initial communications are through portals and with automated robots. You have to do one round of interviews before you even talk to a real person within the company. With Michele Marie PR, the entire process was via email and phone interviews. Therefore, it felt very personal the entire process and you got responses more quickly. If you are someone who is more anxious or does not love working with bots, applying to a smaller company may be a less stressful experience. 

Naturally, a Fortune 50 company has a larger amount of funds for more benefits. As interns, we received items such as a custom North Face backpack, custom T-shirts and zip-ups, and even activity days where people from outside the company were Zoomed in to teach us different skills or even fun crafts like tie dye. Full-time employees have similar perks and even larger ones, such as tuition reimbursement if you decide to go back to school. At a smaller company, I’ve still received perks such as free fashion samples, but it’s very different from the items provided at my previous internship. While I don’t think materialistic aspects should impact how you view the quality of an internship, it is good to know what to expect. 

The last main difference is your responsibilities. Due to Comcast’s size, there was always something to do. Many projects took hours or even days to complete and when you were done, you quickly moved on to something else. At MMPR, while my responsibilities are very important, there are sometimes moments where things can feel a bit slower even after asking everyone if they need help. Initiative and drive remain important in any internship, but in smaller environments, you may need to take more accountability and reach out to others if you feel you aren’t doing enough. Communication is key and larger companies usually have a routinized system on how to contact people or ask questions. While in a smaller environment, you have to figure out what’s the best way to reach out and talk to someone when needed. 

No matter the size, the quality of people in each environment is the same. All my mentors in both of these internships have been encouraging, patient and genuinely want to see me thrive in my career. This is the most important part of any internship for happiness and comfortability is everything. As internships serve as stepping stones for my career, I am equally grateful for the connections and lessons I’ve gained in each situation. Of course, the LinkedIn connections are a plus as well.

BriannaRose is a UCLA Communications major and Film/TV minor who aspires to break boundaries and stigmas. As an aspiring creative director, she works on student films and photography projects, and has professional experience in both fashion public relations and internal communications for cable. In addition to writing, BriannaRose volunteers at local animal shelters and competes in pageants. She currently represents the city of West Hollywood in the National American Miss system.
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