With 15 internships under her belt before graduating college, Lauren Berger gives new meaning to the phrase professional student. Her busy college life may not have left a lot of time for socializing, but it did pay off. Her college experience in the world of work gave her the idea to start Intern Queen Inc., where Lauren and her team help students land the hottest internships. Read on to see how hard she works to help others live their dream.
How did you build this empire of opportunity for yourself and others?
It’s been one step at a time. I had the idea to start Intern Queen when I was graduating, but I didn’t have the means to fund it full-time yet. So, I worked on one small project after another until I had a website created. Then, in 2008 I left my job at Creative Artist Agency to do Intern Queen full-time.
What’s a typical day like for you?
I’m on the West Coast, so when I’m not traveling, I’m usually up no later than 6 a.m. I try to start my day with a writing project. I’m working on a few book proposals, and I blog daily so that my users always have fresh content. I might work on an article for a different website; tweet a new internship; then I’ll check my e-mails for the day. I also run a virtual internship program, so my morning could involve a phone call with my interns. Another big part of my day is press and marketing, and my eyes are always on the traffic of the website.
You did 15 internships before graduating! Was that always the plan?
I started interning during my freshman year, and I just loved it! I was challenged in a way I’d never been challenged before, and I wanted more experiences like it. I was learning so much about myself and what I wanted in my life personally and professionally.
I didn’t realize how much weight things like networking and mentorships carried when I was in college. Do you help students maximize their time in school in any other ways?
We just try to supply them with the tools that will help them make the most of their internships. I think a lot of the tips we offer are ones students can apply to their everyday lifestyle, like learning to talk to everyone, always introducing yourself and giving your first and last name. On the Intern Queen Blog, we talk about all sorts of college issues; it’s not limited to internships. Right now, I have a campus ambassador program with more than 40 students from universities around the country that are passionate about Intern Queen and its message. They contribute to the blog a few times a week on what they’re experiencing in their lives, so other students have someone to relate to.
What’s the Intern Queen Phone about?
It’s a new paid service– a conference call series that I actually named after the Dream Phone board game! Students can sign up for any three phone calls that interest them. We have a different intern coordinator that’s our featured guest on each call, and students have the opportunity to introduce themselves to the employer and say why they’re interested in learning about the company. I send questions students have for the coordinator ahead of time, and it’s basically me interviewing the employer about the internship, what stands out to them on resumes, and about how [the interviewee] got started in their own career. It’s such a great way for students to connect directly with the people who read their resumes. We’ve already spoken to the internship coordinator for BWR Public Relations. Next week we have MTV and VH1, then K/O Productions (who did Transformers and Star Trek), and the series wraps up with Marie Claire magazine.
Do you agree that the economy is almost forcing entrepreneurship?
In some ways, I would agree with that. I think the economy has put a lot of people in a situation where starting a business is just the better option for them, which I think is great. No one ever said to me, ‘you know Lauren; you can start your business today. You don’t have to wait until you graduate.’ I really think more people should tell high school and college students that.
Why do you think many young people have a sense of entitlement?
We want things fast, we want it now, and we’re going to do whatever we can to get it. My hope is that this sense of entitlement is really confidence—the confidence to take initiative, go out there, and make things happen. If that means having a sense of entitlement, then I think that’s OK.
Arlice Nichole, who had her first internship at 30, is a freelance writer and editor from the Midwest. Her work has been picked up by USAToday, EbonyJet, and Lifetime Moms.