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Video: ‘Intern Queen’ helps students get their foot in the door

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    >>> back now at 8:38 with anex- expert at internships. lauren has completed 15 of them during her four years in college. she calls herself the intern queen and now is sharing her expertise in the new book "all work no pay." good morning.

    >> good morning.

    >> did you not do 15 internships in four years.

    >> 15 internships. hence the title intern queen.

    >> including one year at nbc. but what caused -- what was the benefit? what was the good thing that came out of so many internships?

    >> i started doing internships very early, earlier than all my peers, and i did my first internship this spring semester of my freshman year of college and i was addicted. i mean, it was the first time i was in a real professional environment and with every opportunity learned so much more about what i wanted to do with my life. personally and professionally.

    >> so you're saying bottom line because you are really an expert, you would know they are useful even if they have you go get the coffee every five minutes.

    >> i think in terms of some of the most valuable experiences i had in college and you know i see it every day in young people that are graduating college. they started with an internship and because of that internship, they're able to land a job.

    >> a lot of us who are listening to our parents, you know, how do we motivate our kids to get internships? sometimes have you to sit on them, like shake them.

    >> this is kind of becoming full circle because i first heard about internships when my mom saw a segment on "the "today" show" in 2002 about internships.

    >> by the way, i think mom ness the studio here. are you mom over there? mom is over there. ah ha . it's your fault. so you saw the "today" show. there we go. okay. all right. that's good to know. let's get to some questions because there are a lot of college students who obviously need to talk to you and find out advice from you. we have caroline who is at colgate university and joins us via skype. what is your question?

    >> hi there. i had a question regarding cover letters. first off i was wondering how you can personalize it and be a good candidate when you don't know much about the profession and company because you haven't yet had exposure to it and furthermore if you are applying to more than one internship how do you recommend keeping it personalized and specific?

    >> all right. we're going to rewind a second. we're never going to apply for an internship blindly. we're only going to apply for internships when we've been to the company website, read the mission statement , executive bios. you want to know what you're applying for. it is very important to take the time. it takes a while but sit down and personally customize every single cover letter for the position you are applying for. one of the biggest mistakes students make is they stay up until 3:00 in the morning, write a hundred of the same cover letters, they send it to a hundred companies, and the employers know. they know a generic cover letter . so customize your cover letters and do the research first.

    >> caroline, good luck to you. i hope you get a good internship. we have an e-mail out from mike who is in los angeles . he writes, what is your advice for keeping in touch with your internship bosses once you've completed the internship?

    >> three times per year. i chant this to students. three times per year you're going to stay in touch with your professional contacts. so this means e-mailing them, stay in touch, staying in touch. you want to build a below the surface relationship, a real relationship with these people. you want them to remember you so that when you're looking for a job you call them up and you say, hey. it's time. can you help me?

    >> we'll go back to skype now with tara who graduated from the university of portland in 2010 . tara , what's your question?

    >> good morning. i just wanted to know, what are your thoughts on internships for recent college graduates especially those struggling to find a full-time job?

    >> this as great question because there are so many in this economy who are struggling to find jobs. it is possible to get an internship after you graduate isn't it?

    >> it is possible. however, if you've had internship experience, i do encourage you to look for that job. just like you would look for an internship. stay organized. job opportunities are out there. however, if you've graduated, you didn't get the internship experience under your belt. you really feel it would pay off, go after an internship, look for a boutique company. they often promote internships to our recent fwranlgts.

    >> what do you mean, like smaller companies?

    >> smaller companies, right. the bigger companies often have policies where the students must be enrolled in a four-year university in order to --

    >> how do you find a boutique company that's --

    >> you can go to intern queen.com is my bet. we have a ton of internships. off the top of my head, tom's shoes has, it as company everyone wants to work for. they have a great program. they cater to recent grads. fresh & easy supermarkets cater to recent grads. there are opportunities out there. look online. go to your career center . get that internship.

    >> tara , good luck to you. and now we've also got an e-mail question from heather in columbia, missouri. she e-mails, what do you think about internships outside your college major ? i am a psychology and business major, but i would love to do a writing internship for a magazine or a pr internship.

    >> don't feel restricted by your major. go after what you want.

    >> yes. of course. that's the bottom line .

    >> go after what you want. but you know you need to tie your cover letter , you need to tie it all together for the employer. you need to say, why does your academic, professional experience make you the best person for this job? make sure you say in the cover letter , yes i'm an art history major but i'd like the p.r. job because of these reasons. tie it together for that employer.

    >> and write that cover letter personally. all right. thank you so much.

    >> thank you so much.

    >> and the book once again is called "all work and

TODAY books
updated 1/4/2012 12:15:40 PM ET 2012-01-04T17:15:40

Do you want to excel in today's super-competitive job market? CEO of Intern Queen, Inc. Lauren Berger gives you the primary tools for getting started with a solid internship in "All Work, No Pay." Here's an excerpt.


As a college freshman, I focused on everything except opportunity. My days consisted of binge-studying and social activities. I knew that big career decisions would command my attention in the not-so-distant future, but my focus was elsewhere. I didn’t have an answer to the infamous question, “What do you want to be when you grow up?” My parents and teachers would always say, “Lauren, get your act together and figure out what you want to do.” But no one provided an action plan that I could follow to move forward. I was always being told I had “lots of potential,” but I didn’t understand how to turn that into success.

So in 2002, when my mother called and said, “Get an internship,” my initial reaction was that I wasn’t interested. When I realized my mom wasn’t going to let up, I began to seriously consider internship opportunities. Ironically it was my lack of direction that led me into the career center to find more information.

Without rejection, I wouldn’t have developed the thick skin that I have today. In fact, my first internship experience began with rejection. I walked into the career center and eagerly announced, “My name is Lauren Berger, and I’d love an internship. My dream job is to work for Us Weekly magazine.” The two women from the career center stood there and stared at me. They said, “We’re sorry, Lauren, but you need to be a junior or senior to intern. There is one company in town called the Zimmerman Agency, but they only accept seniors. We have nothing for you.”

Looking back on that experience, I always think, what if I had listened to them? Would I be successful now? The word no ignited something inside of me. Somehow I found it challenging and wanted to prove them wrong.

I became determined to land an opportunity and immediately went back to my dorm room to research the Zimmerman Agency and other public relations companies in town.

My first step was to visit their website to learn about their business, clients, and company history. The Zimmerman Agency website displayed no information about internship or career opportunities. I studied the website, making sure I was familiar with the company before I picked up the phone to cold-call.

“Hello, this is Lauren Berger calling. May I speak with your internship coordinator?” The internship coordinator (at the time), Autumn, took my call and requested that I send over a resume and cover letter. I researched how to create these materials online and put my extremely minimal experience into a professional format. My resume screamed “freshman,” with my only previous job experience being at the Limited Too and Red Lobster. Luckily I’d participated in several extracurricular activities during high school and had joined some campus groups at Florida State University. I accompanied my resume with a brief cover letter explaining that I was an underclassman but willing to put 150 percent into the position. I emailed my materials to Autumn the day after she requested them. She needed to know this internship was a priority, and I didn’t want her to forget our phone conversation. In the body of the email, I wrote the following short note:


Great speaking with you. Per our conversation, my resume and cover letter are attached. I look forward to speaking with you further.

Lauren Berger
Florida State University
Phone: 555-555-5555
Email: lberger@gmail.com

My phone rang the next day, and I was called into the Zimmerman Agency for an interview. They wanted to know if I was available to come into the office the following day. At the beginning of your career, it’s important to do everything you can to make yourself available. So I made myself available on the day and at the time they requested. I immediately went out and purchased a plain black business suit that still hangs in my closet. I walked into the interview dressed for success and feeling excited but nervous. I sold myself to Autumn with my passion, energy, and excitement for the position — traits that should never be overlooked or discounted. She hired me on the spot. And just like that, I landed the internship at the Zimmerman Agency. This was the position my career center said I couldn’t get until I was a senior. Years later, when I asked Autumn why I was offered the internship she said, “You seemed unstoppable. There was a passion behind your eyes.” That still resonates with me today.

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I experienced a dramatic change after getting that first internship. At the office, employees fascinated me with their drive, focus, and passion for their work. I felt challenged by the duties I was given and enjoyed learning about the industry, administrative tasks, and new projects.

Ten Speed Press

What surprised me was how this internship distinguished me from my friends. I was no longer able to spend time the way I used to. I started using my free time to not only think about my goals but actually take the necessary steps to achieve them. The internship granted me a sense of direction. I developed a sense of urgency and focus on my career—something I’d never experienced in the past. I — not my parents, not my friends — was in control of my future. I learned that I could still go after what I wanted even when people told me no — and that was a powerful lesson. Through this first internship, my mindset changed — and this is what I call my “click moment.” And until I sat down to write this book, I’m not sure I fully understood the integral role that internships played in my life.

This book will take you on a journey through the entire internship process, showing you exactly how an internship can provide the tools to launch and better your career. In the first chapter, I will explain the significance of internships, explore current trends, and provide solutions for students having difficulty fitting internships into their schedule. Remember, the purpose of this book is to show you how to find, land, and make the most out of internship opportunities — both paid and unpaid. The first handful of chapters talk about how to find your dream internship, and the last few chapters discuss how to be the best intern ever. Make sure you comb through each section carefully so you don’t miss a single piece of advice!

Together we’ll go beneath the surface of an internship. I take you past the satirical depictions of interns and guide you directly to the core of internships, where you can transform your college careers. You will finish this book as a focused internship candidate, one who is confident in how to land an internship and who knows how to make the most of the experience. This process is about connecting the dots and identifying opportunities that have a positive long-term effect on your life.

This excerpt was printed from ALL WORK, NO PAY with permission from Ten Speed Press. It is not to be reproduced or duplicated in anyway. Copyright Lauren Berger 2012.

© 2012 MSNBC Interactive


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