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The Student News Site of Stony Brook University

The Statesman

The Student News Site of Stony Brook University

The Statesman


Intern queen provides royal advice

Lauren Berger, the intern queen, gave SBU students unique advice. Nina Lin/The Statesman

The queen of all interns has come to Stony Brook.
Lauren E. Berger, CEO of, is renowned on the Internet for keeping 15 internships during the course of her four-year college career. Making an appearance at Stony Brook University last Monday for a lecture on landing internships, Berger is also the author of her book “All Work, No Pay: Finding an Internship, Building Your Resume, Making Connections, and Gaining Job Experience”. But before that, she gave an interview with The  Statesman on how she managed to do the seemingly impossible and use it to kick-start a brand that does the same for other college hopefuls.

Statesman (ST): What’s the secret to you getting 15 internships through your four-year college career?
Lauren Berger (LB): Apply! I applied for hundreds of internship applications every summer, and I would just keep applying. For students, it’s enough to just apply for ten internships every summer. And you do get rejected – I got rejected lots of times. But when that happens, you just get back to the drawing board and keep at it.

ST: How excited were you when you were approached to make a brand?
LG: I was stoked! I was so excited. I wanted to speak, Nina, in the loudest voice possible when I say that…I mean, you know, I was really excited. In 2008, I had a movie producer, Marshall Hershkowitz, give me a shot. He hired me as an employee of his and I worked there for a year to kind of get it off the ground and build up my idea. And then in 2009, I had $5,000 saved up, which in Los Angeles is not a lot of money. I took my money and I went and started the business.
And my parents said not to, my friends thought I was crazy and that they weren’t sure. Everyone was kind of like “Wait, so you’re going to call yourself ‘The Intern Queen’ and that was going to be your job? Ok. Weirdo!’ It was a little bit crazy, but I had a gut feeling and I went with it.

ST: Well, it’s been working! You’ve been listed in Business Week Magazine and Mobile Youth as their top 25 Young Entrepreneur.  Now that you’re all over the Internet for being ‘The Intern Queen’ and for helping students find internships, how do you feel about that?
LG: Look who’s done their research! I like that you use ‘The Intern Queen’ as a noun, first of all. I think it’s great. I think that if I can help a student get from where they are to where they want to be, what could be better?
At this point I’ve been doing it for enough years where I’ve been able to see students go from college to where they are in their careers because of these opportunities. So as a person -I won’t take full responsibly for their success – but as a person that’s been able to help them along, it feels, it feels great.

ST: Do you keep in touch with the people that you’ve helped?
LG: I try to keep in touch with everybody. I encourage everybody to stay in touch with their professional contacts three times per year, so they know to stay in touch. Networking is a huge part of internships. The most valuable thing to internships is the networking, absolutely.

ST: So now that your brand has taken off, how busy are you with things now?
LG: I’m a busy girl, but I still have time for friends. It’s not just about running your business; it’s about staying close to your family and seeing your friends all the time. I try to incorporate those things all the time.

ST: You also kept a part-time job when you were going to college and keeping internships. So how did you keep your GPA high, even with all this work going on?
LG: It’s really time-management, and I talk about this in my book [All Work, No Pay]. In my book, I talk about my importance of writing down my priorities. I always say; keep your own schedule, write it down on paper, and once it’s on paper, go out and live it. And make sure you hold yourself to it – so write down when you’re going to study, even things like when you’re going to see your friends.
It’s important to make priorities. Interning, going to school, going to work, studying…any extracurricular activities you have, your friends. So, there’s a lot going on that, again, as long as you’re writing it out, you can really make it happen.
And, a big myth about [unpaid] internships is that they’re 40 hours per week. The majority of them are only 12-15 hours per week, so there’s no reason why you can’t go to your internship, go to your job, and go to school. Now, if you were an honor student, and you are in engineering or you’re a biology major, you’re pre-med, you’re pre-law…whatever it is, you might not be able to handle an internship every semester, and that’s fine.
But I do suggest students have two internships under their belt by the time they graduate college. Now, you don’t have to be the Intern Queen and you do not need to have 15 internships, but you definitely need two by the time you graduate college.

ST: So how do you think the brand will go from now on? Is it going to evolve or stay the same?
LG: The brand grows as I grow, and right now, I’m working to expand into career-land … although I will not be called the Career Queen! I’m working on my second book right now, which is going to be career related. It’s a natural extension of the brand.
A lot of the students I’ve been working with many years are graduating, but kids are going to keep coming to college so I can keep helping more and more students land internships. The most interesting things about internships are that they’re getting younger and younger, so we’re kind of expanding one way, internships for high school and college.
But now, we’re going to work post-college as well. So we’re going to help students get internships and give career advice as well. We’ve started that by doing career-related blogs. So, you know, we’re slowly going into the job world.

During the course of the one-hour session, Berger gave a list of 20 helpful tips and advice along with a sardonic retelling of the brand’s initial start-up. Below are a few of Berger’s key points:

•    Apply, no matter your grade level, work experience, or major concentration.
“The career center told me never to cold call a company,” said Berger. “So what did I do? I cold called.” And the next thing she knew, she said, she got an internship with the Zimmerman Agency.
•    When asked, send all materials (resume, cover letters, etc) to your potiential employer within 24 hours. Call, or email, within the next day.
•    Use your school’s Career Center and their resources. Ask them for mock interviews, look over questions an employer might ask, etc.
•    Keep in touch with all former employers. Email at least three times a year (spring, summer, fall).
•    Hand write thank you notes, and mail them no later than three days after the interview.
•    Call, email, or talk to the people you intern with. Don’t be afraid to reach out and make yourself known.

Rejection is normal, said Berger, and it’s a big part of the application process. “I have a piece of advice. Are you ready?” she said. “You are going to be rejected for the rest of your life. You know those things you don’t know are going to happen in life? This isn’t one of them.”
Perseverance, hard work, and networking are the key advices to students. But at the end of the day, there is one last piece of advice the Intern Queen offers: “The main message of the thing is to go after what you want and never take no for an answer,” she said. “Never let anything get in your way.”

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