Since 2018, I have received many direct messages on both of my Instagram accounts regarding Start Me Up. Students around the world have contacted me with questions about the experience and authenticity of the internship program that gives it’s participants a holistic view of the startup life. As an intern that was personally picked up from the airport by Clare Harrison–the founder of Start Me Up–I can honestly say it’s legit and worth every penny. Clare is very friendly and it was fun getting to know her the couple days I saw her during my program.
Currently, most Instagram users want to know about the internship located in Bali. Unfortunately, I can’t speak for that specific internship because my program was based in Brisbane, Queensland, Australia. I can tell you, however, that my experience in Australia was life-changing. If you’re a student that is on the fence about committing to this program, I highly recommend jumping in head first! I may be a biased alumna due to the fact that I had a wonderful time connecting with so many different people. During my internship, I met my best friend which eventually led me to meet my boyfriend months later. My one trip to Australia led to so many more adventures that I have to believe fate was behind all of it. I felt drawn to this program and I can’t honestly explain why I decided to click on the link when I did. Whatever the reason had been, I’m so happy I chose that path for I wouldn’t be with the love of my life, moved across the country, or even the world if I hadn’t taken a leap of faith.
As far as my career goes, I’m so lucky to have interned with the ever-growing travel app Travello. I thoroughly enjoyed my time working for this happy bunch of Australians and love to see them continually succeed. I still talk with one of the co-founders, Ryan, today. My work for Travello led me to do some amazing things such as graduate from USCB with honors, work for MINDBODY, write articles for LIVELY and SuperBody Breakthrough, specialize in marketing for Marriott Vacation Club, and even manage several social media platforms for businesses. It’s been quite the journey since my decision in 2018 to do an internship with Start Me Up but it was all completely worth it. I am grateful for the opportunity I had and the relationships I made.
Without further delay, below you will see my interview from 2018 which was written just after I finished my program. I have added a few noteworthy points that I didn’t mention a few years ago that I think others might find helpful as prospective Start Me Up interns.
Why did you choose this program?
I had many internship opportunities and needed to make a quick decision about five months before this program started. Ultimately, I wanted an experience that would provide me with skills and formal insight into the growing startup culture. I didn’t want an internship experience I could get “anywhere.” I was pursuing a hospitality degree at the time and wanted a different perspective relating to my degree. I had worked for Disney and although it was a life-long dream, I wanted to stray away from customer-oriented positions. That’s when I searched for “any degree internships abroad” and Google gave me Start Me Up as a result. I was intrigued by the program at first sight because Start Me Up offers unique internships that are intended to push one out of her comfort zone. I saw the program as an opportunity to network, test my (community, computer, blogging, and website) skills, learn new assets vital to my understanding of startups, and introduce new topics through startup events. Many of my favorite nights were filled with other startups pitching ideas to a crowd. It was really interesting to see so many individuals make their ideas come to life and have support from other startups. Being in the startup culture allowed me to immerse myself with other people from around the world. Being one of two Americans in the program allowed me to view the world through other cultures’ eyes and it was an incredible experience that I carry with me today. These are only some of the reasons that Start Me Up separates itself from other typical internships.
In addition to the aesthetic of the program and its objectives, I loved that the application process involved a test. This test acted as the preliminary round and was followed by an interview in the application process. I was very nervous when taking the test because I felt really passionate about doing this program. Once I secured a spot, I felt I understood the application process better. The test is one of the steps to get accepted into the program, however, it is also a way for Start Me Up to assess your skills and values. They take the information from both your test and interview to match you as an intern up with a startup company that requires your set of skills. Now I say this mostly out of speculation and not actual fact because my matched startup, Travello, told me they chose me because of my travel blog. They needed an experienced writer, that knew social media marketing who was capable of multitasking and traveling around. I believe without the test or interview Start Me Up wouldn’t have known what to showcase to potential startup clients. Savvy?
What did your program provider assist you with and what did you have to organize on your own?
Everything was pretty much taken care of for me. All of my fees went to the program, events, apartment complex, and startup space. I was responsible for organizing my arrival and departure dates, purchasing my flights, grocery bills, leisure activities on nights and weekends, and working with Travello on a work schedule. As I mentioned above, Start Me Up took care of everything else as well as picking me up from the airport and giving me transportation to fun events we were attending on weekends and weekdays after work. I was able to travel the Gold Coast, Eumundi Market, Noosa, Lamington National Park, and the Australian Zoo all thanks to Start Me Up. Samia, our program coordinator, was very helpful with transportation and aide in travel on weekends. I also traveled to Byron Bay thanks to Travello promoting me to be a project manager for a Byron Bay campaign.
What is one piece of advice you’d give to someone going on your program?
Keep in mind that the Australia program started in 2018. I believe I was one of the first, if not the first, group to do this Australian program. Expect a few bumps in the road with scheduling, timing, mentors, and work things. Everything regarding basic needs–such as checking in to my apartment–went very smoothly and I didn’t experience any problems. To be honest, I thought my internship was going to be in Byron Bay. It wasn’t until I flew into Brisbane and Clare picked me up, brought me to the apartment building, and left that I realized my internship was in Brisbane. That was my fault for not verifying with Clare in our last preparation interview before my flight. Initially, the internship was supposed to be in Byron Bay but somehow the communication got lost when it was switched to Brisbane so I never knew that the location switched. I was afraid at first from the confusion but once my English, Cypriot, American, and South African female roommates moved in, I felt very comforted.
My biggest tip is to be open-minded when it comes to anything from the people you live with, the community workspace, your company, and the culture. I loved all of my roommates and bonded with each one separately as well as all together. We really had a blast touring the city, going on excursions, and hitting the clubs on weekends. Honestly, you’ll take more away from your internship if you don’t go in with your eyes shut. Don’t be afraid to ask questions or try new things! People are really friendly and willing to help. You just have to ask for it.
What does an average day/week look like as a participant of this program?
It’s a pretty typical workday of Monday through Friday 9-5. You can walk or Uber to work at your own expense–again this is regarding two months in Brisbane and not Bali. Work is at the community workspace where you work closely with your founder. However, Travello had an office about five blocks away from the community workspace and so I would split my days in half. Mornings were at Travello and then I would use the community workspace in the afternoon to get the full effect of the startup culture. Most weeknights had seminars, startup pitch series, networking opportunities, and small presentations you can immerse yourself in right after the workday. It was really fun talking with so many different people and learning new things. On the weekends, my roommates and I traveled to sightseeing destinations, enjoyed park concerts, marketplaces, shopping, and even some networking events. Most weekends we would sightsee or relax during the day and then hit the club scenes at night. It was a fun way to blow off steam and let loose together as roommates. Overall, it’s a very picturesque lifestyle of working during the day and meeting new people at night before heading home to make your own meal.
I almost forgot to mention, I was incredibly blessed to work for Travello because my first day was traveling to the Gold Coast for a photoshoot. It was so much fun and insightful to see how a startup creates amazing footage for their campaigns. I had an absolute blast. So, if you’re like me with a travel company, you may not have a set schedule. It may be fluid and you will have to roll with the punches!
Going into your experience abroad, what was your biggest fear and how did you overcome it? How did your views on the issue change?
I was mostly afraid of failing in the startup world. My experience was solely customer service, social media, blogging, hospitality management, and customer service. With no experience in startups, I forced myself to go in with a positive mindset that I could achieve whatever I wanted to learn. I just had to work hard every day and ask as many questions as I could. My startup loved that I asked so many questions because it kept us all on the same page. I also had a very friendly and non-dramatic team so that felt really comforting. A common phrase I picked up on was “no dramas” which is equivalent to my Disney mind of Hakuna Matata.
Another fear I had was being a single female walking around a city I didn’t know. I quickly learned that Brisbane is one of the safest and healthiest cities. People are fined for catcalling others, they are extremely environmentally friendly, and the food tastes and feels amazing to eat. The U.S. adds a lot of extra sugar to everything–which is highly unnecessary–so Australia was refreshing to not only my mind but my body as well. After the first couple of days, my fear quickly subsided and I felt very confident walking around the city at night to get groceries, go to an event, or even go on a run because of how safety-driven city laws. Everything was really well lit and it was amazing to feel like the city was a thriving place and I didn’t have to be afraid. Needless to say, it is by far my favorite place I have lived so far in my life and I’ve moved to at least eight different cities around the world.
Any tip before the trip?
A personal tip for packing: know your wardrobe and expect anything. I obviously say that because I packed my suitcase expecting a humid beach and instead worked in a city. I quickly had to buy work clothes to fit the city environment. Also, depending on the startup you intern for, you may be invited to attend an opening ceremony gala with your founder–like one of my roommates did–or you may have a company activity to go on a hike. It’s best to be prepared and don’t be afraid to ask questions. Bring something nice, a few items for professional events, and casual or activewear for your daily use. During my program, I attended an opening event with two of my housemates and on weekends we’d do different activities. Some were fancy that required a dress or skirt while others were very laid back and casual. The point is, make sure you bring the right attire because you don’t want to network in your gym shorts.