For college graduates fresh out of school, landing a job in a volatile economy might seem impossible. That’s why many pursue internships first, to both test the waters of their prospective field and gain some hands-on experience.
When it comes to experience, Lauren Berger, known as “the Intern Queen,” has it in droves. Berger, a Clearwater native, landed 15 high-profile internships during her college career with companies such as MTV, FOX and NBC. Berger released her first book in January and maintains a free website that not only matches students with internships, but also offers tips to help others find success.
The Oracle caught up with Berger to talk about how she earned her title as “Intern Queen” and what lessons students can take away from her experiences.
The Oracle: Where did you get the idea for your website, InternQueen.com?
Lauren Berger:I graduated from the University of Central Florida as a communications major and I completed 15 amazing internships in my four years of college. After I graduated I could not stop thinking about my great experiences in my internships and I really wanted to create an internship site to help students connect with other students and find internships. I also recently wrote a book to help college students through the internship process called, “All Work, No Pay.”
O:How did you manage your life around 15 internships in only four years?
LB:I doubled and tripled internships over my summers. I just want to say that no student needs that many internships. I strongly recommend that every student has at least two internships on their college resume. I cannot stress that enough. Whether you double two over one summer or spread them out, at least two internships is a must. Time management was very important with school work and everything else. It was extremely hard, but manageable.
O:Apart from managing your time wisely, what is the most challenging part of the internship process?
LB:Dealing with rejection. You are going to get rejected. The best thing a student can do is to learn to get over it now. Once you get over it and accept it, you can do amazing things. I would really encourage students not to take no for an answer. You need to go after what you want. Once you find it, and you get that incredible opportunity, you can start moving forward on your career path.
O:What do you think is the biggest mistake most college students make during the internship process?
LB:A lot of students apply for a ton of opportunities without keeping information organized. One of the best parts of my book is a slide-out “Intern Queen Dream List.” It’s a fill-out list to help you keep all of your internship information, like due dates and contacts in one easily accessible area.
O:Your book just came out in January and has already been featured on “Fox and Friends” and “The Today Show.” What inspired you to write it?
LB:Publishing the book was very exciting because it’s something I’ve been passionate about for a long time. My passion actually started in college when I would go into the school bookstore and there were no good internship books.
I wanted to create a relatable, instructional and informative book with life that took students through the internship process. I start out everychapter with a short story about my personal internship journey. I wanted them to be able to relate to my advice.
O:Being motivated in college can sometimes be tricky. Where did you find motivation to pursue so many internships during college and what drives you today?
LB:I was definitely not very motivated starting my freshman year of college. It actually wasn’t until my first internship that I really got motivated. Networking for the first time challenges you differently. Internships can be magical. They can take a completely unmotivated student who has no idea what they want into an extremely passionate person.
O:What was your most magical internship experience?
LB:It was actually for a local morning show in Florida called “The Daily Buzz.” I woke up at 3 or 4 in the morning most weekdays and I learned how everything on a morning show is run. I couldn’t have gotten that information anywhere else.
O:What would you say is the most rewarding part of internships?
LB:Every internship gave me more information of what I wanted after college. They all brought me closer and closer to what I knew I wanted my dream occupation to be. You also make a lot of connections working with various companies. I got my first job after college through a connection I had made during an internship. It’s very important to keep in contact with your professional connections.
O:How do you keep up with all of the work you are doing now as a result of your internships?
LB:I am a one-woman crazy show. I have an amazing website staff, great interns and campus ambassadors that all help me out. The business is all growing rapidly, but we are on a great track and the only thing we can do is keep going and improving things.
I use a lot of to-do lists and packing lists since I’m traveling a lot. I do a lot of online shopping for cool new clothes, but I also prioritize everything. I have to know exactly who my good friends are and who I want to spend time with. I have to ask myself if what I’m doing is the best use of my time, and if it isn’t, I reevaluate my situation.