From our first semester of college, we are told over and over about the benefits of having an internship. They provide work experience, they help you decide which industry you want to work in, they’re what companies want to see on your resume when applying for a job, blah blah blah. With so much pressure on getting the perfect internship, it’s easy to shrug it off and put the whole ‘internship problem’ on the back burner. This is where someone who knows the ins-and-outs of internships, an internship veteran per se, can be of great use.
Lauren Berger is the self-dubbed ‘Intern Queen’. Having held fifteen internships throughout her college career, Lauren is (how do we put this?) an internship expert. For us clueless college students, fear not! Internship advice is on its way! Not only does Lauren have an “Intern Queen” website (she created Intern Queen, Inc. and is CEO of the company!), but she recently published the book “All Work, No Pay,” in which she discusses all her best-kept internship secrets.
Earlier this year, Lauren agreed to talk with me about the importance of an internship and shared some tips from her book on how to score your dream internship:
The Value of an Internship
Basically, all the benefits of internships that you’ve heard are completely true. Internships let you see if you like working in a certain industry with a specific company while also providing, “[…] a great resume builder, entry level experience, and the networking and connections necessary to land a job.” In today’s competitive job market, that’s not bad at all. Not sure if you should aim for an internship or a summer job? An internship is generally 8-10 weeks long and is focused on helping interns learn about the job, company, and industry they’re working in. Jobs are different because they can last anywhere from a few days to several years. Most importantly, “[…] the tasks that one does on a job aren’t necessarily for the greater learning benefits of the person doing the job.”
Lauren’s Number One Tip
This tip is two-fold, but it centers on finding several internships that you’re passionate about. Lauren first emphasized the need for students to apply to multiple internships. Since the internship market is so competitive, it’s best not to risk ending up internship-less. Lauren also mentioned that students should be clear on what they’re applying for: “Don’t apply for things just to apply for them; you’ll just end up wasting your time and the employers’ time.” Instead, do your research and find several internships that sound amazing.
When internship coordinators receive applications, they’re forced to read dozens (maybe even hundreds or thousands) of resumes. When it comes to standing out on your resume, Lauren noted that bullet points keep your resume clean and organized. Lauren also said that your resume should contain only relevant information. “Your resume really needs to tell an employer why you’re the best candidate for the position, so everything on that resume should serve a purpose. If there’s something on your resume and it’s not going to tell an employer why you’re a great fit for that position, then it shouldn’t be on your resume in the first place.”
All Industries Offer Internships
“Today, industries across the board offer internship opportunities.” While I assumed that students of all majors could find an internship specific to their industry, I was shocked to hear that it is important for students working in any industry to have held an internship. Lauren stressed the point that students who have held internships are more likely to get a job than students without internship experience, regardless of which industry they want to work in.
Lauren’s book, “All Work, No Pay,” primarily focuses on unpaid internships. However, as a poor college student, I was more interested in how to find amazing paid internships. Lauren shared that, while paid internships require a full-time commitment, most unpaid internships are only 10-15 hours a week, allowing students to manage a part-time job and an unpaid internship at the same time. To find a great paid internship, Lauren said the process is similar to finding an unpaid internship. “In my book I talk a lot about ‘The Intern Queen Dream List,’ so I suggest that students put that list together and really target and visualize the ten companies that they see themselves working at in the future, do all the research, and fill out everything.” Make sure you’re following up with all the companies you’re applying to and you’ll be right on track to land your dream internship!
Fall, Winter, & Spring Internships
After hearing about the many internships Lauren held throughout her college years (both during the school year and during Winter/Summer breaks) I was a little worried that, if I didn’t find internships during the academic year, I was going to be behind internship-wise. Lauren assured me that while year-round internships are becoming more prevalent, they’re also not necessary. Instead, Fall, Winter, and Spring internships can be a great alternative to Summer internships if you are busy with summer jobs or family trips from May through August. Lauren also pointed out the benefits of local internships. “I think that finding a local opportunity can be a great step and can be a great way to get your foot in the door and will really make you qualified for lots of bigger opportunities in the future.”
How Many Internships Should You Have?
One super cool (or insanely intimidating?) fact about Lauren is that she held fifteen internships throughout her college career. I couldn’t believe it when I read that! I asked Lauren whether students should strive for a large amount of internships, or if having only a few internships still gave them a great resume. “I don’t recommend that college students try to have a large amount of internships. I think if that happens that’s great [because] I think with each internship you grow and you learn more about yourself and what you want to do; that’s what happened in my case.” Ultimately, Lauren suggests that students have at least two internships before they graduate college. What’s the key to holding these internships while still making time for schoolwork, extracurriculars, and friends? “[Students] need to make sure that they are managing their time, that they’re creating their […] perfect class schedule like I discussed in my book, and that they’re prioritizing well.”
Read more about Lauren’s book, “All Work, No Pay,” at internqueen.com; scroll through some cool internship opportunities, learn all about Lauren (she was named one of Businessweek’s “America’s Best Young Entrepreneurs 25 and Under”!), and email her with any questions!
Lauren’s final words of wisdom: “When you want to do something you focus on it and then anything can happen, so I wish all of those students out there luck and that they go get their internships!”