When I first heard that Lauren Berger, founder of Intern Queen, had 15 internships over the course of her four years as an undergrad, I assumed that she was… well, a nerd.
I imagined someone slightly older than me decked in a business suit who would be encouraging me to ditch my social life in order to pursue my career interests. But one of my fellow interns at Allure attended one of her events over the summer and loved it, so I knew I had to check her out.
Can you imagine my surprise when Lauren walked onto stage in sky-high heels, skinny jeans, a black half-button-up, and the coolest oversized jeweled necklace I’ve seen in awhile (courtesy of JCPenny… you know I had to ask)?
Lauren Berger is cool!
Lauren encompasses what a 15 Minute Goddess is: she’s stylish, motivated, and her energy is infectious. When she addressed the crowd of driven, dominantly female, Binghamton students, it felt as if your cool older sister was giving you personal advice.
If you’re not fortunate enough to have Lauren speaking at your school in the near future, here are some of her best tips on securing an internship and making the most of it:
- Never take “no” for an answer! Lauren started with no ‘real’ experience but her persistence, timeliness and personal touch (sending a handwritten note is crucial, she says) landed her an internship as a freshmen in college at the Zimmerman Agency!
- Harness your campus’ resources. Take advantage of anything your career development center has to offer, whether it’s mock interviews or resume building seminars.
- Identify your dream job. Where would you work if you could pick anywhere? Once you identify that, find similar (and more obtainable) internship opportunities that will help you reach that dream job.
- Keep your materials updated. Sending out a resume within 24 hours of an internship coordinator is extremely important, according to Lauren, and it becomes much easier if your materials reflect your recent experience. Also, make sure you customize your cover letters. Accidentally sending Seventeen magazine your Cosmo cover letter is a huge deal breaker.
- Network with your fellow interns. Not only will your fellow interns be in the job market alongside you, they’re ambitious enough to be getting internships in the first place, so be the cheesy intern who organizes an activity for all of you to participate in.
- Be selfish! An internship is a time for you to figure out what careers may be right, or completely wrong for you.
- Put yourself out there. If there’s something extra you want to do, or someone you want to meet with while you’re interning, say so! Again, it’s a time for you to figure out what path suits you. If you want to meet with someone higher up in the company, find a way to contact them and ask if there’s a time that they can sit down with you so you can hear how they got started and hear their advice.
- It’s not about the paycheck. When choosing between an unpaid or paid internship, choose the one that provides the most experience. If you are being paid to intern, but you aren’t learning anything, you aren’t going to have anything to talk about during an interview.
- On that note… it is feasible to have a part-time paid job as well as an unpaid internship. An unpaid internship should only require 15 hours of your time a week, so having a job on your off-time (or another internship! Lauren had three one summer) is totally possible.
- Stay in touch with any past employers or professionals THREE times a year! Lauren encourages sending a short and sweet e-mail three times each year (holidays, birthdays, etc.) to update your contacts on your whereabouts and ask about theirs in order to maintain relationships. Don’t fall into the habit of emailing only when you need a favor!
- You don’t need an excessive amount of internships. Lauren recommends having at least two under your belt before you graduate. But, if you’re going to be home for a winter break, for example, don’t hesitate to use this time to gain more experience (they’re a bonus!).