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This comprehensive guide from ;Intern Queen ; Lauren Berger shows students how to land impressive internships and get the most out of them-from work experience to networking to resume building. These days, a college resume without internship experience is seen as weak-and in this tough economy, recent grads need to do whatever they can to get a competitive edge in the job market. Enter Lauren Berger, aka the Intern Queen, whose next generation manual reveals insider secrets to scoring the perfect internship, building transferable skills and connections, and turning internships into job opportunities-covering all the cutting-edge information students (and alternative career-changers) need to get ahead.
In college, I felt lost.I wanted information on internships but I felt that no one really cared. My friends and I weren’t on the same page when it came to the importance of internships. They weren’t ready to think about their future. My college’s career center didn’t have any internship opportunities for students until their junior or senior year. I always wished thatsomeoneorsomethingexisted to help me with the process. Where could I go to find internships and learn what to do once I landed one?
And so I taught myself. I created my own methods of finding internships, and, through trial and error, I learned to make the most of them. I finished college having completed multiple internships (fifteen, to be exact) and a friend jokingly referred to me as “the Intern Queen.” Near the end of my senior year, I decided that I would use the knowledge gained from my internship experiences to start a business—an online internship destination that would list available opportunities and educate students on how to make the most of them. I would call it www.internqueen.com.
Through my internships, I gained tons of insight about myself, the workplace, and my future. You don’t have to do this alone. Let me be the person to guide you on your internship journey. I will provide you with strategies and techniques to find and land great internships—something nobody shared with me.
The state of our economy calls for action. As young people, we must stand up and make things happen. If you are considering this book, or reading this introduction, you should be proud. It’s easy to sit around, do nothing, and wait for opportunities to come to you. The most valuable thing I learned from my fifteen internships was that I had the ability to make things happen. Obstacles motivate me; rejection motivates me. And I learned how to deal with obstacles and rejection over the course of my internship journey.
Yes, this is a book about internships—how to get an internship, make the most of it, and leverage it for your future. But personally, it means so much more. Ultimately these experiences carried me from where I was to where I wanted to be. They taught me that anything is possible.
Learning and educating yourself through real-world experience will helpyoureachyourgoals. You have two options—to continue reading and take control of your life right now or to put the book back on the shelf. This is your life. You have an opportunity. Let me be a resource for you. Start this book, put my tips to use, and I promise you’ll gain valuable experience unlike anything else.
I have squeezed every last bit of myself into this book. My passion for internships, helping young people, and inspiring my generation is like no other. And I promise that my energy is contagious. Enjoy my book—and your upcoming journey.
—Lauren Berger, the Intern Queen
As a college freshman,I focused on everything except opportunity. My days consisted of binge-studying and social activities. I knew that big career decisions would command my attention in the not-so-distant future, but my focus was elsewhere. I didn’t have an answer to the infamous question, “What do you want to be when you grow up?” My parents and teachers would always say, “Lauren, get your act together and figure out what you want to do.” But no one provided an action plan that I could follow to move forward. I was always being told I had “lots of potential,” but I didn’t understand how to turn that into success.
So in 2002, when my mother called and said, “Get an internship,” my initial reaction was that I wasn’t interested. When I realized my mom wasn’t going to let up, I began to seriously consider internship opportunities. Ironically it was my lack of direction that led me into the career center to find more information.
Without rejection, I wouldn’t have developed the thick skin that I have today. In fact, my first internship experiencebeganwith rejection. I walked into the career center and eagerly announced, “My name is Lauren Berger, and I’d love an internship. My dream job is to work forUs Weeklymagazine.” The two women from the career center stood there and stared at me. They said, “We’re sorry, Lauren, but you need to be a junior or senior to intern. There is one company in town called the Zimmerman Agency, but they only accept seniors. We have nothing for you.”
Looking back on that experience, I always think, what if I had listened to them? Would I be successful now? The wordnoignited something inside of me. Somehow I found it challenging and wanted to prove them wrong. I became determined to land an opportunity and immediately went back to my dorm room to research the Zimmerman Agency and other public relations companies in town.
My first step was to visit their website to learn about their business, clients, and company history. The Zimmerman Agency website displayed no information about internship or career opportunities. I studied the website, making sure I was familiar with the company before I picked up the phone to cold-call.
“Hello, this is Lauren Berger calling. May I speak with your internship coordinator?” The internship coordinator (at the time), Autumn, took my call and requested that I send over a resume and cover letter. I researched how to create these materials online and put my extremely minimal experience into a professional format. My resume screamed “freshman,” with my only previous job experience being at the Limited Too and Red Lobster. Luckily I’d participated in several extracurricular activities during high school and had joined some campus groups at Florida State University. I accompanied my resume with a brief cover letter explaining that I was an underclassman but willing to put 150 percent into the position. I emailed my materials to Autumn the day after she requested them. She needed to know this internship was a priority, and I didn’t want her to forget our phone conversation. In the body of the email, I wrote the following short note:
Great speaking with you. Per our conversation, my resume and cover letter are attached. I look forward to speaking with you further.
Best, Lauren Berger Florida State University Phone: 555-555-5555 Email: email@example.com
My phone rang the next day, and I was called into the Zimmerman Agency for an interview. They wanted to know if I was available to come into the office the following day. At the beginning of your career, it’s important to do everything you can to make yourself available. So I made myself available on the day and at the time they requested. I immediately went out and purchased a plain black business suit that still hangs in my closet. I walked into the interview dressed for success and feeling excited but nervous. I sold myself to Autumn with my passion, energy, and excitement for the position—traits that should never be overlooked or discounted. She hired me on the spot. And just like that, I landed the internship at the Zimmerman Agency. This was the position my career center said I couldn’t get until I was a senior. Years later, when I asked Autumn why I was offered the internship she said, “You seemed unstoppable. There was a passion behind your eyes.” That still resonates with me today.
I experienced a dramatic change after getting that first internship. At the office, employees fascinated me with their drive, focus, and passion for their work. I felt challenged by the duties I was given and enjoyed learning about the industry, administrative tasks, and new projects.
What surprised me was how this internship distinguished me from my friends. I was no longer able to spend time the way I used to. I started using my free time to not only think about my goals but actually take the necessary steps to achieve them. The internship granted me a sense of direction. I developed a sense of urgency and focus on my career—something I’d never experienced in the past. I—not my parents, not my friends—was in control of my future. I learned that I could still go after what I wanted even when people told me no—and that was a powerful lesson. Through this first internship, my mindset changed—and this is what I call my “click moment.” And until I sat down to write this book, I’m not sure I fully understood the integral role that internships played in my life.
This book will take you on a journey through the entire internship process, showing you exactly how an internship can provide the tools to launch and better your career. In the first chapter, I will explain the significance of internships, explore current trends, and provide solutions for students having difficulty fitting internships into their schedule. Remember, the purpose of this book is to show you how to find, land, and make themostout of internship opportunities—both paid and unpaid. The first handful of chapters talk about how to find your dream internship, and the last few chapters discuss how to be the best intern ever. Make sure you comb through each section carefully so you don’t miss a single piece of advice!
Together we’ll go beneath the surface of an internship. I take you past the satirical depictions of interns and guide you directly to the core of internships, where you can transform your college careers. You will finish this book as a focused internship candidate, one who is confident in how to land an internship and who knows how to make the most of the experience. This process is about connecting the dots and identifying opportunities that have a positive long-term effect on your life.
Chapter 1 The Truth AboutInternships
No matter whatthe common perception of internships might be, they are, inarguably, the most valuable experience for today’s college student. And the statistics are there to back it up. In 2010, students with internships on their resume received a greater number of job offers than students without internships. Additionally, students with internship experience received higher salary offers for their first jobs than students without internships.1 The internship remains the only proven way to provide students with the entry-level job experience, training, and relationships necessary to better prepare them for their career path.
Perhaps the strongest argument for internships stems from those who started as interns and have gone on to be successful. I point you to the likes of Oprah Winfrey, who started as an intern for a local CBS affiliate in Nashville; award-winning journalist Brian Williams, who started as an intern for the Jimmy Carter administration; and fashion designer extraordinaire Betsy Johnson, who started as an intern forMademoisellemagazine. Despite these facts, statistics, and examples, many students across America remain unconvinced and unwilling to consider internships. They don’t want to focus their attention on gaining the practical workplace experience usually needed to land a job after college. These students have not experienced their click moment.
I begin my internship presentations at universities by asking students to raise their hands if they’ve had an internship. Approximately 20 percent raise their hands. Those 20 percent are on the right track. The other 80 percent will be on the right track soon—they just need a bit of encouragement. But why does this happen? What is the disconnect between Gen Y and the concept of internships?
Many call this a generational issue, but I say it’s the difference betweenknowinganddoing. I argue that students do know where they want to go and how they want their life to end up—at least in a general sense. What they do not know ishowthey are going to arrive at their chosen destination. People tend to focus on the end result and overlook the roadmap that shows students how to get from point A to point B. When I was younger, I was constantly asked, “What do you want to be when you grow up?” This question forced me to think about my career goals but failed to show me how I could achieve them. Students understand the importance of landing a job after college. I don’t doubt that. However, they often have a lack of guidance for the time in between.
I, too, ask students what they want to be when they grow up. The difference is that I follow up the question by askinghowthey are going to get there. How will you achieve your goal? What internship can you get to further your understanding of a specific industry?
Before we dive into the current internship space and explore internship trends, I want to explain why an internship is a necessary tool for one’s future. Below I’ve outlined five key components of an internship that are crucial to lifelong career success: hands-on education, networking, resume building, gaining references, and pursuit or elimination. To be clear, these five components apply to both paid and unpaid internships.
A hands-on education is something that can’t be achieved in the classroom. Your internship not only teaches you what goes on within a company but also provides you with the opportunity to execute and perform these tasks while under the proper mentorship or supervision. As an intern, you handle administrative tasks, sit in on meetings, and develop a clear understanding ofhowexecutives dowhatthey do. You will make mistakes because you are learning. In fact, you are expected to make mistakes. These mistakes help prepare you to excel postcollege, when you are on the company’s dime. This knowledge and practice will place you above your competition and ahead of the crowd for job interviews. Mary Mahoney, assistant director of Career Services at the University of Tennessee says, “If you were an employer, who would you rather hire: the student with no previous experience or the student who’s had intense training and experience in your field and is familiar with your processes, software, and materials?”2
Remember, according to a 2010 Student Survey conducted by the National Association of Colleges and Employers, 51 percent of students have had internships by the time they graduate from college.3 It would be disappointing to miss out on a job postcollege because the person you are up against had had an internship and you hadn’t.
As an intern, your job is to meet all the people in the office and give them a reason to remember you. Potential contacts hear about job openings within their personal and professional networks, and you must be able to tap into those networks as an intern. Your ability to keep in touch with and nurture these contacts will be crucial to your long-term career goals. Do you know how I landed my first job out of college at Creative Artists Agency, the largest talent agency in the world? I called up a contact that I met at my FOX internship and asked him to put in a call for me. One week after moving to Los Angeles, I lined up an interview and landed the job. In chapters 8 and 9, I’ll provide tons of networking tips to ensure you are able to properly leverage your new contacts.