After doing 15 internships during college, with companies like MTV, FOX and NBC, Lauren Berger branded herself and created a business. A graduate from the University of Central Florida, Berger is now CEO and founder of Intern Queen, Inc and now a published author. Her first book, “All Work, No Pay” is an intern’s guide to everything internships, from finding an internship to building your resume, to making connections and gaining job experience. Berger talks about why she started interning, life in LA and her slight obsession with the Kardashians!
What is your pet peeve?
I think it’s when people don’t take initiative and don’t go out of their way to get stuff done. I think it’s important to do a task and follow it through all the way. If I go to the store and I ask for something and the salesperson doesn’t know where it is, I’d like the person to go find it or find out how to find it. I like when people provide full information and are very complete in their answers. I think that is something I got from my first boss at the Creative Artists Agency.
Do you watch reality TV? If so, what are some of your favorite shows?
Haha. I do have a small obsession with the Kardashians and the Beverly Hills housewives. Everyone gives the Kardashians a hard time, but I’ll tell you though those girls know to brand themselves!
Would you rather….
Show up for the job interview of your life muddy and wet because you fell while running to make it on time-OR-risk being thought of as unreliable by canceling the appointment after you fell and are muddy and wet?
Show up to the job interview muddy and wet
Have to change your name every 5 years-OR-have to move every 6 months?
Move every 6 months.
How did you hear about internships and how did you get started?
I heard about internships my freshman year of college from my mom. She saw an episode of the Today Show where they were talking about internships. She kept calling and calling and told me to get an internship. So I got my first internship the spring semester of my freshman year of college.
What was your first internship?
I interned with the Zimmerman Agency in Tallahassee, FL. It’s an advertising and PR company.
What was your most embarrassing moment as an intern?
I blew up the coffee machine while I was interning at the Daily Vibe, which is a nationally syndicated morning show that films in Orlando. I was interning there and made a bunch of people very upset in the break room and one of the anchors of the show had to come help me.
What was the worst advice ever gotten while as an intern, entrepreneur or author?
When people say ‘no you shouldn’t do this’ or ‘no you shouldn’t do that’ because there is always a way to get things done. You should always try to do what you want to do.
If you can rewind time, what would you do differently back then with the knowledge you have now?
I would have asked more questions, been more organized, would have always walked in with a pen and paper in my hand. I would have concentrated more on the lasting impression rather than the first impression.
So you’ve done 15 internships, my hat goes off to you! Why 15?
It was never a plan. No one has to do 15 internships, but I recommend students have one or two on their resume by the time they graduate. Internships for me were exciting and challenging and I wanted more of these opportunities. Each opportunity told me so much about myself and what I wanted or didn’t want to do in my future.
Many times students intern when the adviser at school tells them they need an internship credit in order to graduate. When should students really start interning?
I suggest sophomore year. I think freshman year is a good time to start thinking about internships, I don’t think you have to do them then. Yes, I did them but that doesn’t mean everyone has to, if you want to and you are really into it, great. Freshman year should be about settling in with your classes, joining some on-campus activities, making friends, having fun and making sure you have your part-time job under control. Sophomore year is a great time to introduce internships into your life and your schedule.
What do you say to those students who are hesitant to intern because it’s a non-paid internship?
If I can do it so can you. Unpaid internships should only require about 12-15 hours per week. It is not a lot of time and you can still have your part-time job and go to school if you need to and have that internship. If you don’t get that internship you are really risking not landing that job you want because more than likely the candidates you are up against are more than likely going to have internship experience on their resumes.
What is the worst thing to say at a job interview?
There are so many worse things to say. It is so important to stay focused on the interview. I’ve heard that a lot of students are asking questions that have nothing to do with the actual position. Also, when I interview students for my internship program the second I sense that they wouldn’t take the job that day, or hesitant about the opportunity I no longer want to hire them for the position. As an employer, I am scared that I’m going to waste my time hiring and training them and then they’re going to leave. It is really important to show a ton of interest when you are at these interviews.
Lauren Berger Shares Why You Should Read “All Work, No Pay”
What was the process like writing All Work, No Pay?
It was intense and very grueling at times. I run a business and a lot of people look at me and what I’m doing and thinks ‘oh she has it so easy’ no, no no I’m like a creepy circus woman and I wear many hats all day every day. It’s very important that every part of my business runs smoothly on a daily basis. I am constantly making sure the business is smoothly and a lot of authors are only authors as their full-time job. So for me, it was very challenging since half my days were writing the book. It wasn’t easy but I do think the second time around will be much better.
Was there a hard part to write in All Work, No Pay? If so, what was it?
I think as a writer it was coming up with my own process. Everybody has their own process no matter which kind of writer you talk to. I think the pattern that works best for me is doing my intern queen work all morning and since I live and work in LA around 6 or 7 in the evening it starts to cool down a bit after the New York calls stop coming in. My mottos are ‘pitch pitch pitch’ and ‘sell sell sell’ so from 9a-2p I at least need to be doing that.
If there is one thing you want your readers to take from your book, what might that be?
You can do it! It’s a matter of being focused and self-motivation.
How does All Work, No Pay differ from other internship, career and business-like books on the market?
All Work, No Pay is fun and it’s a journey and you are going on an adventure with me! I’m still relatively young and I’ve been in your shoes, been there done that. I’ve had a ton of internships and I was not the best intern in the world and I’ve made every mistake in the book but I’ve learned from every opportunity. I’ve always wanted a book on internships written by someone I could relate to and that didn’t exist. I’m very excited that high school, college students and even recent grads will be able to take advantage of this book and will be able to figure out how to find land and make the most of their internship opportunity.
I even read the book and after my numerous internships, I stilled learned a thing or two from reading. I definitely felt a sense of voice as if the reader and you were having a conversation.
I was so glad you got that! That was what I was aiming for. There are so many other books that are so boring and I didn’t want it to be like that. I wanted it to be exciting and as you were saying like I was having a conversation with the reader.
I also didn’t really know much about the legal side of interning and internships.
I think it’s so important for students interning to know the law. You don’t have to memorize it but you see so many cases recently where interns are coming back a year later and suing their employers and it turned into this negative thing. It is never the student’s fault no matter what the situation is, however, I believe in knowing your rights, knowing what is right and wrong and how you should be treated and knowing what is legal and what is not. If I can provide students with a little bit of insight in that area I believe it can only do positive things.
What is life like as the Intern Queen and now a published author?
It is a really good feeling. A book often provides a sense of credibility for people. It is nice that I can now add author to my resume, which is always helpful. It is nice to have something tangible that I can bring to speaking engagements. When I was writing the book I tried not to write my exact speaking engagement so that students won’t feel that they heard it already. Of course, certain parts will be in there like how I got my first internship and all that but there are a couple of key stories that I keep secret that I only offer in my speaking engagements.
How is life on the west coast, from Clearwater, FL to Los Angeles, California, and the different time zones?
I think running a business in LA one of the biggest struggles is the time zone, but we were able to get around it easily. I think when I first moved to LA back in 2006 it was hard to remember that your friends from back home may not be able to talk to you and remember not to call my family at 11pm. Ultimately, I really love California, I think it’s great and a great marketing and entertainment energy and it is a really nice place to run my business.
All Work, No Pay: available at bookstores and online