So, sticking to the theme of “giving thanks,” I am so grateful to Lauren Berger for taking the time to share her expertise with my readers in today’s SPOTLIGHT. You may know Lauren as the Intern Queen, but she really is the Intern Queen, having had more than 15 internships by the time she graduated from college. Lauren is now the CEO and Founder of InternshipQueen.com, which she started in September 2009 when she was only 24 years old. She is also author of All Work, No Pay: Finding an Internship, Building Your Resume, Making Connections, and Gaining Job Experience—a must read for anyone looking for internship advice. She is set to release her second book in spring 2014.
With as many questions as I receive form all of you about internships, speaking to Lauren is the ultimate get, so I hope you take a lot away from her past experiences and incredible insight. Meet The Intern Queen…
Name: Lauren Berger
Position/Company: CEO & Founder of InternQueen.com, Author of All Work, No Pay: Finding An Internship, Building Your Resume, Making Connections, and Gaining Job Experience
Describe your job in a few sentences… I’m a career/internship expert - I help connect young people with the jobs and internships of their dreams.
Where did you go to school? I started at FSU and graduated from UCF in Orlando, Florida.
What was your major? Organizational Business Communications
First internship—what were your responsibilities? Cold-calling the media, organizing press kits, admin work, taking notes in meetings, & learning how to write a press release.
They don’t call you Intern Queen for nothing. You had several internships after your first. What inspired you to keep interning? At my first internship (The Zimmerman Agency in Tallahassee, Florida) I was challenged in a way I hadn’t been before… it was interesting, new, and exciting - I wanted to be challenged more…
Were your internships paid, non-paid, or both? What is your take on each? All of them were unpaid. One time, I got a $100 stipend from a PR internship in Tallahassee (Moore Public Relations).
Finding internship opportunities is not easy. How did you go about finding so many opportunities—what was the process like? I researched the industries I was interested in online, looked up the companies, and either made calls or sent in my resume. It wasn’t rocket science. Today, I have a system called the Intern Queen Dream List for young people to follow to land their dream internships. I have a pull-out version in All Work, No Pay.
What is your #1 piece of advice for those looking for internships? Don’t stop looking! Just because you get rejected from an opportunity doesn’t mean you are going to get rejected from every opportunity. Keep looking until you land something and don’t take NO for an answer.
What is your advice for those who have landed internships? How do they make the most out of their experience? Walk in every day thinking, “How can I make the most of this opportunity?” Just having that kind of mind set is all you need to set you apart. Meet as many people as you can and stay in touch with every single one of them for the rest of your career.
What are the top three qualities you think every intern should have? Confidence, Energy, and Information!
What is the best way to transition from an internship into a full time job with the same company? An internship doesn’t guarantee a job at that specific company. If you want to work for the company where you intern, sit down with your supervisor twice during your internship and ask for their advice. Tell them you are passionate about working for the company and ask if they have any advice on things you could do if that’s the end goal. Have a mid-way evaluation with your boss and another talk two weeks before the end of your internship.
Should you list all of your internships on your resume? What is your take on that? Your resume should be one page. List the most relevant experiences. I’m the Intern Queen - I had 15 internships - my resume is only 1 page. I list the most relevant positions.
How do you feel about virtual internships? I love them as long as they are structured. I don’t like virtual internships that just allow interns do their assignments “whenever” - I think that’s a bit too unstructured. I’ve been running a virtual internship program for my business since 2009 – it’s amazing and because of it, I’ve been able to mentor so many students from across the country.
Biggest lesson learned while interning? Mistakes are okay as long as you learn from them and don’t repeat them.
You have built an incredibly successful business, published a book, and have another book on the way. Did you always see yourself as an entrepreneur? Nope, never. In fact, I WISH that someone came up to me in high school or college and had said, “You CAN run your own business and you can start now.” I think just hearing that would have ignited a fire inside of me. No one told me that - ever. When I was a senior, I was interested enough to do some digging on my own and figured it out.
Biggest accomplishment so far in your career? The fact that I get to wake up every morning and make the rules. I get to create ideas, execute them, and see them through - it’s a very special experience.
Who were/are your mentors? My first boss - Tracy Brennan at CAA and today - Lee Jelenic - who runs Global Brand Strategy at Lincoln (Ford Motor Company).
Best work advice? Never assume anything. Do it yourself and double check your work.
How can my readers follow you? @InternQueen on Twitter/Instagram/FB & www.InternQueen.com & My Book!
Also, check out this great video featuring Lauren on Makers.com: http://www.makers.com/lauren-berger