Someone hand this girl a sceptre—as she’s the reigning royalty of the internship world! Meet Lauren Berger, aka “The Intern Queen.” The dynamic career guru started her thriving website when she was just 24 years old—and she’s just getting started. With a brand-new book coming out in April and a new website geared at 20somethings in the works, this Clearwater, Florida native (who is already a household name amongst the college set) is poised to expand her throne.
What made you take such a strong interest in internships?
Lauren: At first, my mom had seen something about internships on the “Today” show and started calling me and calling me—your typical helicopter parent type of story. That’s what got me in the door of the career center and really thinking about internships. Once I did my first internship, I was hooked. It opened my eyes to my future and career. It was a magical experience because it was the first time I started contemplating my future as a young adult.
How many internships did you do?
Lauren: I had 15 internships in college, and they were all in media, PR, entertainment and journalism. My internships took me to places like Tallahassee, NYC and LA, and I interned everywhere from Backstage to MTV to Fox to NBC to the Zimmerman Agency. Doing so many internships was what gave met the idea to start Intern Queen. I felt there was a lack of resources out there for young people, and I wanted to change that.
How did you get the support of movie producer Marshall Herskovitz and how did he help you?
After college, I moved out to Los Angeles and got a job as an assistant at CAA. There came a point where I was miserable and needed to leave—my expiration date had passed. I really believe in telling people what you want to do, so I started telling everyone at CAA that I was the Intern Queen. But when you work at a place as “cool” as CAA, it’s hard to tell everyone you want to leave a place that helps movie stars and start a website that helps student get internships. It was hard to constantly put myself out there and not let what people thought get in the way. I knew I had to stay focused and passionate, so I bought the domain name and started creating the site.
Around that time, I got a phone call from Marshall; I did not know him, was not friends with him, so the call caught me off-guard. He was running QuarterLife.com at the time, which was an online community dedicated to young people. He thought my idea could help stall his network while he got funding for more projects. I went to work for him for about a year, but Quarterlife ended up going under and Marshall moved on. During that time, I saved up a whopping $5,000 and set off in 2009 to start my own full-time business.
What tips do you give girls on maximizing their internship experience?
Lauren: A lot of students work so hard to get the internship, but then it kind of stops and their energy and motivation disappears. The best thing you can do is walk into the opportunity everyday and ask yourself, “How can I make the most of this situation? What can I do today to get me one step closer to my dream job?” A lot of people focus so much on the first impression—being on time, dressing properly, but by day 10, it all goes out the window. Focus on a lasting impression. It’s not enough to look great and volunteer for everything on the first day—do it every day. When you leave the internship, everyone should know you are consistent and reliable.
Any red flags to look out for?
Lauren: Be alert, aware and know what you’re getting yourself into. Get as much information as you can from the posting before you even apply, and during the interview, always ask the employer to describe a typical day as an intern. Get a strong idea of what you’re doing, and if the employer has no idea, that’s a big red flag.
The Intern Queen empire is growing by leaps and bounds! What’s next for you?
Lauren: The next step for us is my new book, Welcome to the Real World. I’m also launching a new site called Lauren Berger Inc. The goal everyday is to hit more people in more places and keep pointing young people in the right direction—the direction of their dream. LBI will be the big sister site to Intern Queen; it’ll provide a lot of career advice, entrepreneurship advice and fashion-at-work blogging, plus it will be an opportunity for young people who’ve used my network in the past.
You have a campus ambassador program. What’s that all about, and how can girls get involved?
Lauren: We always got lots of emails saying “I love your brand, love your message, not necessarily looking for an internship but love the resource you’re providing.” We got enough of these inquiries that we decided to start an ambassador program. Right now, we have 90 college students involved, and we just launched a high school program with 20 girls. We also have a small community college program and a program in the UK.
Our ambassadors are like the “mini-mes” on campus; we call them the do-gooders and the go-getters. It’s nice to have a direct relationship with members of our community; we use them as a think tank and include them in marketing/branding campaigns we do. Plus, we have phone calls every other week where they can dial in and ask me questions; a lot of them have gone on to get impressive jobs, so it’s great to see the power of the IQ network really pay off. For girls who want to be part of it, we do calls for ambassador applicants twice a year.
What’s your favorite motivational quote?
Lauren: On Instagram, we do a “motivational Monday” quote, and the last few weeks we’ve been using my own quotes. One of my favorites is, “They think they know, but they have no idea.” People see a girl who jumps around on stage calling herself the Intern Queen and are quick to underestimate the power of our network, but day after day, we’re proving people wrong. In my first book in the dedication section, I thanked all the people who told me “no” because they made me prove myself day after day.
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