Internships are an essential part of the college experience. They offer hands-on experience outside of the classroom, provide the opportunity to network within your field, not to mention they look great on your resume. The benefits of interning are numerous, but sometimes finding an internship that suits you well can be tricky. Luckily, Lauren Berger, the “Intern Queen,” is here for you. In her new book All Work, No Pay, she outlines all of the tips and tricks you’ll need to find the right internship and make the most of your experience. We interviewed Lauren to get the answers to some of the most common questions posed by interns-to-be.
Tell us a little bit about yourself. What makes you the “intern queen”?
While in college, I completed 15 internships during my 4 years – hence the title, “Intern Queen.” I noticed there was a lack of resources when it came to internships. I didn’t have anyone I could ask about internships and career tips. Right before graduation, I decided that I could be the resource – I could be the person students came to with internship questions. After 15 internships, I wasn’t the BEST intern, but I sure had my fair share of experiences. I wanted to teach students what I learned from my internships and encourage my peers to go after their dreams. My internship experiences were priceless.
What is the best advice you could offer to a first-time intern?
Part one is landing the internship, and part two is making the most of it. Walk in there every day thinking, “How am I going to make the most of this opportunity?”
How do you score a paid internship?
Internships aren’t about the money – they are about the experience. There are both paid and unpaid internships – one isn’t necessarily better than the other. Select the internship that will teach you more about industries that interest you. Paid internships are typically with Fortune 500 companies or in the finance, business, tech, or engineering industries. Unpaid internships are usually communications, marketing, PR, or entertainment opportunities.
How do you make yourself stand out to a potential employer?
Don’t concentrate on the first impression – focus on the lasting impression. How will you make yourself a reliable and loyal intern candidate? The idea is to walk out the door confident every person at that company would hire you if they had the option.
How do you keep motivated when working an unpaid internship?
The experience you are getting is priceless and very different from what you do in the classroom. Take advantage of every moment, read everything you get your hands on, form relationships with as many people as you can. This is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity and can truly change your life.
How many internships should the average undergraduate take on in their 4 years of college?
I recommend that students have 2 internships on their resume before graduating college.
What are your top 3 tips for acing an interview?
Arrive early. Make eye contact during the interview. Ask questions at the end. Do your homework the night before – know your stuff – and be as knowledgeable as you can about the company.
Lauren Berger is known as “The Intern Queen” after completing 15 internships during college. She runs InternQueen.com, a free internship listing and college advice site for young people. Berger’s first book, ALL WORK NO PAY, is available worldwide or you can purchase online here. Follow Lauren Berger, @InternQueen, on Twitter for daily tips and advice!