You might know Bali as a popular backpacker destination - dancing the night away on the beach in Kuta or climbing active volcanoes to catch the sunrise are just some of its attractions. While those both sound like a blast, I decided to take a different approach.

I spent two months interning in Bali, based in Ubud, a smaller town about an hour inland. Ubud is known for its short role in the film Eat, Pray, Love and its spiritual reputation. There are tons of yoga studios, live concerts, dance classes, outdoor movie nights, and other ways to stay entertained.

Almost every person I have met has called Bali “high vibe” or “magical”. I agree, and found it to be a place of exponential growth and learning. Where else can new age hippies and writers rub shoulders with successful entrepreneurs? Plus, there are the Balinese people who are beautiful, kind, and generous.

I was interning with Start Me Up, a program that places young people with startups in emerging startup hubs around the world. It was one of the best decisions I’ve ever made, and it’s put me on an entirely new career (and life) path.

How I got the placement

Interning in Bali

I discovered Start Me Up in a Facebook group for a bunch of travellers who were writing a book on their stories. I applied online and within a few days I made it to the next round, a Skype chat with the founder, Clare. I found out a bit more about the placement program and Clare got more information on what I was looking to get out of the internship. We had another Skype call the next week and then I booked my ticket to Bali.

I chose Start Me Up because I wanted to learn more about the startup world. I wanted to travel rather than be in a crowded, expensive city. This was the perfect combination of work, learning, and travel.

The placement was with a public relations startup, where I learned about creating targeted media lists, writing catchy headlines, and developing unique angles to pitch to the media. I was also in charge of creating content (blogs and social media).

No such thing as an average day

Internships in Bali

Working for a startup, there isn’t really an ‘average day’. I started off my day with a relatively standard gym, shower, and breakfast routine, but once I arrived at the co-working space I was always working on a new project or task.

An example of a project I worked on would be creating a media list to pitch a story to.

Around midday, there was usually some sort of session, either group brainstorming  or someone giving a talk. Throughout the day I would meet with the founder, other interns, or people working in the co-working space to brainstorm, collaborate, or just learn something new. In the evening, there was usually another activity or a large group of us would go out for dinner as a group.

My favourite nights were game nights hosted by a member of the co-working space. He had a beautiful villa in the middle of rice fields so even if I lost the game, at least I had the views.

On the weekends I would relax around Ubud by hanging out in cafes, getting massages, or exploring the local area on my motorbike.

Benefits of interning for a startup

Hubud in Bali

The best part about my placement was working out of a collaborative co-working space. I was based in Hubud, one the best co-working spaces in the world, according to Forbes, and it was amazing to be surrounded by entrepreneurs each day. Each person had an interesting story and many had multiple businesses they ran themselves. It was easy to introduce yourself and ask for help because everyone was keen to meet new people or help you out.

Throughout the week, Hubud would host events like skill-sharing, in which members share their expertise on topics like marketing or coding, or talk nights, where people share their stories for your learning benefit.

Interning in a co-working space is the perfect learning environment. If I want to learn something, I’m surrounded by people who are willing up to teach me.

On top of it all, I got to live in a magical place like Bali - with endless options for music, yoga, dance, and so many more activities.

I don’t think you would get this same sense of community interning for a startup in San Francisco. Choosing an emerging startup hub like Bali allowed me to have the best of both worlds - an amazing intern experience while  living in paradise.

Future plans

Interning in a Bali startup

This experience has completely changed my future career path. It has showed me an entirely new world and I don’t think I could work a corporate or ‘normal’ desk job ever again. The startup world is fast-paced and learning oriented - exactly what I am looking for.

Being around entrepreneurs has also inspired me to start freelancing.

I now see the reality of how easy it is to create a location independent business. Why work for someone else when I can create my own business and work from anywhere in the world?

Interning for a startup in Bali has reignited my passion for learning and I’m thrilled to be able to use this knowledge as I grow in the future. Bali is a place I will continue to return to over the course of my life because it has changed me so immensely.