Internship Lessons from the Queen

On the last day of the PRSSA 2014 Region 5 Conference, “Hollywood Under the Oaks,” we welcomed one of the conference keynote speakers, Lauren Berger, commonly referred to as the “Intern Queen.”

Berger shared some fantastic stories on her various internship experiences and how she gained her title. After having 15 internships throughout college, Berger understands the importance of an internship and recognizes the need for more internship resources. In 2009, Lauren created Intern Queen Inc. to help students navigate the ins-and-outs of applying for internships, being an intern, making connections, gaining valuable career experience and more.  Here are my four main takeaways from the Intern Queen’s visit:

Follow up and stay in touch. When applying for internships or careers in general, following up is key. The Intern Queen stressed the importance of not only following up, but following up THAT NIGHT. If materials are requested, you have to make sure to send them the same day. This little gesture can go a long way, and it’s how Berger landed her first internship as a freshman. Make a spreadsheet of all of your contacts and follow up with each of them three times a year. Three times a year is not advice from the Intern Queen — it’s a rule. Staying connected when you don’t need something will open doors when you do.

Accept rejection. We’re all human, and we all get rejected. This is a simple fact of life, and it affects everyone — no matter who they are or how successful they are. Just recently, the Intern Queen herself faced a rejection in relation to promotion for her new book, “Welcome to the Real World.” It’s important we learn how to accept it and capitalize on the rejection. Did you not get the internship position you wanted? Take the high road and follow up. Establish a positive connection; learn how you could have been a better candidate, and then work toward making those professional or personal improvements. Allow the rejection to propel you forward. It’s important to remember rejection doesn’t mean “no,” it just means “not right now.”

FIO: Figure It Out When someone says “no,” find a way to make “yes” happen. Don’t let someone tell you you can’t do something. The Intern Queen didn’t let her college career center counselor tell her she couldn’t find an internship as a freshman. If you simply find a way to get it done and figure it out, then you will succeed.

Be proactive. Do your homework on the internship, company and its culture. Ask for more work and responsibility. Send a handwritten thank you note. Dress appropriately. Make sure people know what you want to do. A few years ago, Berger’s dream job was to work for Us Weekly. As an intern at a public relations firm in Los Angeles, she happened to find a business card on the floor for Ken Baker, who at the time was the West Coast Editor for Us Weekly. The Intern Queen decided to email him. Although she didn’t hear back for months, Berger’s efforts eventually landed her a job with the magazine. While celebrating Thanksgiving with her family, Lauren received a surprise call from Baker and a trip to Barbados for the next day to investigate a story. Throughout college, Berger worked for Us Weekly all because she was proactive and sent an email.

Want to gain even more insightful and helpful tips and advice from Lauren Berger, the Intern Queen? Check out her national campus best-seller, “All Work, No Pay” and pre-order her new book, “Welcome to the Real World,” which hits stands (and tablets) on April 22, 2014.

Megan Gibbs with Lauren Berger

Megan Gibbs is a senior studying public relations at the LSU Manship School of Mass Communication. She currently serves on the PRSSA at LSU executive board as co-director of the nationally affiliated student-run firm, ImPRint Communications. Check out her website or connect with her on LinkedIn and Twitter.

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