‘Never take no for an answer’: Intern Queen speaks to Penn State

“I am here for all of you!” exclaimed the bubbly “Intern Queen” to a room of hopeful interns Tuesday night in the HUB Auditorium. After completing 15 internships, the now 27-year-old CEO Lauren Berger says she had a gut feeling back in December 2009 that she would create the Intern Queen brand. Though peers considered her crazy, as of January 3, her book All Work, No Pay broke the top 80 best-selling books in the world and hit number one in the Job Hunting category.

Her freshman year of college, Berger received a frantic call from her mother urging her to find an internship after watching a related story on the Today Show. Without a resume, cover letter or any idea where to apply, Berger searched the Web. The communications major found Zimmerman PR Agency, located in Florida where Berger attended college at the University of Central Florida.

After “cold calling” the company and asking for a shot as an intern, the internship coordinator asked for her resume and cover letter. She quickly created a resume with little to add except for her job experience at Red Lobster and Limited Too. Because she emailed this information within 24 hours, Berger awoke to a phone call saying how impressed the agency was by her enthusiasm. Nailing the internship, something clicked.  This experience triggered her obsession with obtaining her dream career and generated her new and improved attitude: “When people tell me no, I say yes.

The question: How did she do it? How did she manage to gain amazing internships at places such as Us Weekly magazine, FOX, NBC and MTV in such a short amount of time? Here are a few of Berger’s valuable tips and tricks:

  1. Never take no for an answer. Berger called many agencies and media outlets asking for an internship in New York for the summer of her sophomore year. When she stumbled upon Backstage newspaper, without an internship program, she insisted on becoming its first intern and her persistence made this possible.
  2. You will be rejected. Persistence and enthusiasm won’t always hold true during such competitive times. The secret is to get over rejection ASAP. It’s inevitable, but never give up.
  3. Show thanks and keep contact. After being interviewed for an internship, it is crucial from a professional standpoint to mail personal thank-you notes. It is also important to keep in contact with the company three times per year. Maintain relationships and possible networking opportunities for the future.
  4. Network with fellow interns. Become BFFs with your fellow intern friends. They may have strong connections within an industry you desire. They will take your call over someone else’s.
  5. Put yourself out there and tell people what you want to do. Berger couldn’t state this enough. If you’re interested in a specific career in a specific city, tell your employer. They may be able give you a recommendation and a list of contacts.

Berger started her brand striving to aid students in achieving their goals.

“I like to stand in front of students because I feel like they can relate to me. They are going through similar experiences and I want to encourage them to go after what they want,” Berger says. “There’s a lot of negativity out there when it comes to the workplace. I want to be a positive influence.”

Berger encourages students to “make it happen.” Your dream internship may not be a dream, but a future career and life changing experience.

Photo by Jennifer Picht

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