Abby Mitchell is studying a BASc:Arts and Sciences at UCL in the UK. She spent one month in Bali on Start Me Up’s Startup Internship Program

I had my doubts about paying to do an internship, but I figured it was not really much more expensive than just going traveling by myself, and at least this way I would get to visit a new place and maybe get something useful to put on my CV.

Considering these were my initial thoughts I can safely say that this experience vastly exceeded my expectations! Not only did I get to avoid a stuffy London office over summer, but I came out with a solid foundation in coding and a new sense of direction.

While I was in Bali I was essentially a web development intern. I was working with the CTO of a startup that connects artists with record labels, and together we were developing a new website for the business.

I learned so much from my mentor, not just about coding, but about living and working in Bali, potential ways to develop my career, and how the ‘digital nomad’ lifestyle works.

By the end of my time in Bali I was somewhat glad that I wasn’t being paid. I felt that I learned and gained so much from the experience, that I was certainly getting more out of it than my startup mentor was. It wouldn’t have felt right to also take their money, especially as so many startups are always struggling for cash.

The amazing beach-front location and traveling opportunities were obviously a huge draw for me when I signed up for this, but I still worked long hours. I was in the ‘office’ five days a week, working and learning pretty much non-stop. It was certainly a challenge, as web development involves a lot of research, reading documentation, and Googling stuff when you can’t figure something out.

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Sometimes you will be stuck on an error for days which can be so frustrating and make tensions run high, so this experience was definitely a good exercise in patience and retaining motivation.

My month in Bali not only helped me develop my technical skills, but also helped me develop as person. That sounds really cheesy I know, but I genuinely learned a lot about new ways of working and what works for me. It’s a difficult thing to describe, but just experiencing it for a month has helped me decide that I want to do more of this.

The people that I’ve met here have all been really lovely and friendly. It’s very easy to network and develop personal and business relationships with people in a short period of time. Start Me Up was also super helpful with organizing activities, facilitating contact with the other interns, and just generally providing help and advice on any issue. So I never felt like I was truly alone, which was a concern I had when I first decided to do this by myself.

So what next?

To be honest, I’ve never known what I want to do with my life. My whole degree is essentially based on the fact that I don’t know what I want to do and I kind of suck at making decisions about my future (I study BASc:Arts and Sciences, I basically get to choose whatever I want to do. It’s pretty cool).

So I was genuinely incredibly surprised that this experience has, for the first time in a long time, provided me with some direction. Don’t get me wrong. I still have a long way to go, it’s not like I suddenly have a whole five-year-plan set out.

But I know that I want to continue with web development, I want to continue building on the skills and experience I’ve gained from my Bali adventure. Now I’m a working as a web developer for another startup in Shanghai, while also doing my year abroad from uni. I’m also developing my own app as part of my final year dissertation for when I get back to London, something I never would have dreamed I was capable of prior to my internship.

So I guess you could say this month has been kind of life-changing, if you’re into that kind of inspirational talk! It was an amazing time and I look forward to seeing how much further I can take all the things I’ve learned.

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