Lauren Berger is what you might call a professional intern. After taking on 15 internships in high school and college, she founded InternQueen.com, a site where young people can not only apply for positions, but also get expert advice on how to make the most of them. “When I was in college, there wasn’t anyone helping me,” she remembers. “There was no online destination where I could find internships or advice on how to make them count. I was constantly frustrated by that.” After college, she moved to LA and used her vast internship experience to land a job at Creative Artist Agency. Her intention was always clear—to save enough money to launch a site for interns, offering the guidance she always wished she had. After two years, she self-funded The Intern Queen with $5,000 and left her agency job.
Seven years later, The Intern Queen now has a big sister site, LaurenBergerInc.com, geared toward recent graduates transitioning from internships to full-time jobs. She’s published two books, All Work No Pay and Welcome to the Real World, and moved her team into a brand new office in LA. “Every day is a hustle,” she says of her life as a self-funded entrepreneur.
Between running her company and speaking at conferences and schools, the Intern Queen herself took the time to share her tips for making the most of your summer internship.
Get involved in college
In order to figure out what you’re passionate about, engage with different groups on campus and make sure to intern in a field that interests you. Pay attention to what you love to do and what you don’t love to do. With every opportunity, you’ll find yourself one step closer to what excites you.
Do your research
Block out time this weekend or next to sit down and do your research. Put together your resume and cover letter and start applying. It’s very important to research what the company is about and what the interns actually do. Don’t get distracted by a big fancy corporate name. Read the internship listing in its entirety. If you’re applying to work at a company you’ve never heard of, do your due diligence and figure out their mission. Make sure it’s a place you’ll actually want to spend your time. Applying for a ton of internships without researching them first is a waste of your time and the employer’s time. You want to apply for internships you actually want to land.
Don’t take rejection personally
When you’re not accepted for a certain position, it doesn’t mean “never,” it just means “not right now.” Thank your interviewer for their time and keep in touch—you never know where the relationship could take you. You have to get rejected to get to where you want to be. It’s a sign that you’re almost there, so keep going!
Over-prepare for your first day
Before the internship starts, make sure you have all the information you need. Do you know what the lunch situation is, the dress code, where to park, what entrance to go in? I recommend doing a practice run. When I interned in NYC, I stayed at the NYU dorms and worked on Astor so I did a practice walk. See how long it’s going to take; if you’re driving, see what the traffic is like at the time of day when you’ll be commuting in. Send one comprehensive email to your internship coordinator a week before the internship starts and ask any last-minute questions. You want to avoid sending 700 different emails with one question in each email. That’s a quick way to get on the employer’s not-so-good side.
Make a lasting impression
You want to make a great first impression, but the important part is making a lasting impression. For the most part, everybody shows up on time, if not early, on the first day. They’re dressed well, they have a great attitude, they volunteer for everything. But usually by day 10 or day 20 of the internship, that’s all changed. People get lazy. They start wearing ripped jeans or flip-flops. Their cell phone is glued to their hands. They’re Snapchatting all day long. These are the things you want to watch out for. Whatever you bring to the table on your first day, you want to keep up throughout your internship. Be reliable, responsible and consistent. Your supervisor needs to know they can count on you to show up on time every day, willing to help and ready to go above and beyond to get the job done.
Get the best of the best career advice, #lifehacks and style stories, delivered straight to your inbox—sign up here!