The InternQueen graces campus
Professional bestows knowledge about internships
Published: Thursday, February 9, 2012
Updated: Thursday, February 9, 2012 22:02
The energetic and charismatic Lauren Berger, better known as the InternQueen, gave a presentation yesterday to get UConn students motivated about their futures, especially internships.
The University of Connecticut has many opportunities for internships, but most students are reluctant to get started. Berger, however, stressed that internships are the way to break into the business world, regardless of what one's specific interests may be.
The InternQueen, who works in Los Angeles, has traveled to universities around the country. She speaks with groups of college students about how to get an internship and the benefits they will provide students. The main reason for getting internships, other than the experience, is for the networking opportunity. To begin, Berger gave her email, firstname.lastname@example.org, and encouraged attendees to write to her. "I am connected to thousands of employers all over the world," Berger said.
Berger graduated college in 2002 but while in school, she had 15 internships; 15 unpaid internships, she noted. However, she said, studies have shown that internships help get jobs nowadays, paid or unpaid.
Berger told the audience how she broke into the world of internships at large corporate companies. Her first piece of advice was to known what attendees' dream jobs were.
"I wanted to work at Us Weekly magazine. That was my dream job," said Berger.
She said she looked from something in publicity or a magazine. She was, however, told by the career center on campus that internships were just for seniors. Instead of letting this stop her, Berger said that she went out and did research on public relations companies in Tallahassee, Florida, where she was enrolled at Florida State University.
Berger told the audience that one of the most important things in the process of getting an internship is to do the research. She said that she had gone to the website even before she had applied and learned all about the company. "Read the mission statement…read the executive bios," said Berger.
It was clear right off the bat that Berger is called the InternQueen for a reason. Berger said while it is usually not advised to "cold call" a company, she did, and it led to her getting her first internship at the Zimmerman Agency, a national PR company.
Because of her devotion, Berger got the interview, a very key stage in the internship process. Berger counseled attendees on the proper steps. Doing a mock interview is key and dress is also very important. Berger told the group to get a dark-colored business suit. After the interview, the next crucial piece is to send a hand-written thank-you card.
"After the interview, send it in the mail no more than three days after. In the note, thank the executive for their time, reference something interesting that they said, and say you look forward to hearing from them," Berger said.
Because of these steps, Berger landed her internship, which shot her career in internships off like a rocket. The very next summer, she interned in New York at Backstage, a drama oriented newspaper, another step towards her dream job.
"I learned not to take no for an answer," said Berger.
The next summer, Berger told the group she landed an internship in L.A at two companies, BWR Public Relations and a boutique firm. It was through the BWR Public Relations that she suddenly found herself with the opportunity to work with Ken Baker, now head of E! News; at the time, he was the west coast editor of Us Weekly.
"It was my dream job, remember. I got a call on Thanksgiving and it was Ken asking if I was available to fly to Barbados tomorrow morning…Denise Richards and Charlie Sheen had a fight, and he wanted me to figure out what happened."
She was only two years into college, and she already was freelancing all over the world for Us Weekly. "I put myself out there and I took initiative," Berger said.
Having already achieved her dream job, Berger started anew with a new dream; to be the InternQueen. Berger admitted it was tough in the beginning to get her website and her company off the ground. She also was looking for a book deal about internships. She was told quite often that nobody cared about internships.
In 2008 she was a paid employee, working as the InternQueen for a salary. In 2010, though, she got a call from her book agent that Randomhouse had agreed to publish her work. "All Work and No Pay" is now a bestselling book all over the world.
"I was living my dream job and I was happy with it," said Berger.
All of this, Berger explained, started because of her internships. Berger instructed the group that keep connected with all past employers and contacts would definitely prove useful in the future. Internships will serve as invaluable experience for every college student, regardless of one's age. Berger, after all, was told that internships were only for seniors.
"One thing in life is that we will always be rejects. The trick is to get over and keep going," said Berger.