From Corporate to Startup: The Benefits of Interning for a Startup Company

By: Paul Schwarz, DePaul University Marketing Student August 2017 Graduate

1What is Rent Like A Champion?
Three Notre Dame college students listed a vacant apartment on Craigslist and eBay, promoting it as a weekend rental for a football game. Dedicated fans quickly rented the space, grateful to stay somewhere more affordable, and closer, to the stadium.

The immediate success Derrick, Drew, and Jordan experienced evolved into a big game event renting platform, Rent Like A Champion. The company now offer home rentals in over twenty college towns nationwide. Rent Like A Champion is stationed out of Catapult Chicago, the well-known incubator for startup companies whose sales promise to scale quickly.

Rent Like A Champion was featured on the popular television show, Shark Tank, inevitably soaring recognition and sales for the young company after signing a contract with “Sharks,” Mark Cuban and Chris Sacca. The startup team, however, remains small with only seven members: Mike (CEO), Denise, Betty, Hank, Claire, Dave, and Tim.

Day One: Rent Like A Champion2

Gratefully, I was given the opportunity to intern for Rent Like A Champion. A phone
interview was followed by an in-person meeting with the CEO, Mike Doyle. I was anxious to learn I was the new intern for this becoming company. I’ve always felt a passion in entrepreneurship, so I was eager to observe the processes involved in a newer company. However, I have had several other internships prior to this experience, all of which were for large, corporate organizations.

The small, intimate environment, however, created a smooth and comfortable transition into this less familiar atmosphere. The team gave me a company branded t-shirt, coffee mug, and office supplies. After a brief introduction, Mike organized for me to individually meet with each member of the team to better understand their personal role as well as their background before working at Rent Like A Champion.

My experiences working for companies with thousands of employees made it impossible to know everyone. This smaller environment allowed me to personally engage with every member

of the team so that not only was I learning and gaining skills within my own role but I was learning of all the tasks required to operate the company as a whole. Ultimately, this unique company culture created a personable, intimate environment to work in and it highlighted the value of everyone involved in creating a single company.

Daily Tasks

My role at Rent Like A Champion was Business Development. This required me to call on past renters to drive demand during top sport events at the biggest marketed universities, maximize a city’s potential by finding prospective partners within youth sports and other events, and to maintain exceptional customer experience for current consumers.

Unlike interning for a corporation where your title determines your role within the company, startups aren’t limited by labels. To keep strong against competitors, new companies require constant creativity and innovation, skills encouraged by everyone belonging to the company. This unique aspect of younger companies allows you to expand beyond any single role.

Personal Reflection

My experiences prior to interning for Rent Like A Champion at large, corporate companies offered me insight into two different business cultures. There are distinct pros and cons between each setting and, ultimately, understanding your personality as well as your personal and professional goals can help determine where you will find the greatest success.

I recommend to anyone who values interpersonal skills and the ability to learn the processes of the beginning of a company to intern for a startup. I recommend to anyone who dreams of owning their own business one day to intern for a startup. I recommend to anyone who enjoys working within the corporate world but wants to experience a laid-back, welcoming environment to intern for a startup. My experience at Rent Like A Champion is invaluable and I am grateful for the opportunity to work alongside men and women who valued the unique skills I could offer the team and encouraged me to think critically, creatively, and innovatively. I left the internship confirming my true passion: to start up my own company.

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