What does your current job entail? Is there such thing as a typical day?
Lauren Berger: My current job changes frequently. I am always either on the road, traveling, speaking, doing appearances, or book signings as the Intern Queen, and getting to interact with the hundreds of thousands of college students in the US. Or, I’m in the office, overseeing the website. We also run a marketing agency called IQ Marketing, which is where we help brands who are looking to engage with college students and we help them find campus ambassadors. So I oversee the website, our campus marketing agency. Of course, it’s my job to kind of be on the cutting edge for anything new that’s happening in the internship or job world.
What inspired you to start Intern Queen?
LB: I created this job, this position, this company, and everything I do today. It's all kind of made up to an extent, which is kind of amusing when you think about it. But I had 15 or 16 internships when I was in college, and every one of the internships—even the ones I wasn’t that excited about—taught me so much about who I wanted to be, both personally and professionally. And as a college graduate, I always felt myself looking for resources and coming up short. I couldn’t find a book on internships; I could hardly find any websites. I really wanted to start a better resource. So I started Intern Queen two years after graduating college, and I’ve been writing it ever since. So internqueen.com is a free website where young people can go to, not only read our internship advice, but they can apply for internship opportunities.
What is the best part of your job?
LB: I would say the best part of my job is that I’m still learning every single day. I haven’t hit a point where I’ve kind of peaked and said, “Oh, I already know how to do everything.” You know today I was on the phone with my web team, learning about a new email platform, something I had no idea how to do. So every day I’m learning something new and meeting new people and learning what their hopes and dreams are.
What is one mistake you made along the way and what did you learn from it?
LB: I think like a lot of people, I probably got a little too frustrated with rejection. I really just let rejection kind of get in my bones and drive me crazy, and I think I let that rejection hurt my confidence a little bit. I think a lot of college students going through the application process can kind of relate to that. We put too much pressure on one opportunity that we really think is for us. But sometimes that’s just not how it’s going to work out, so it’s important to have a plan B and a plethora of experiences and opportunities you’re going after when you’re applying for internships or jobs. Also, just remember that you have to get rejected to get to where you want to be. Everything successful I have ever done has started with getting rejected, as crazy as that sounds. So nowadays, when I get rejected, it’s a signal that I’m on the right path.
What is one thing that stands out on a resume to you?
LB: I can usually tell within ten seconds of looking at a resume, maybe even earlier, if the person has tailored their resume for the position they’re applying for. An example is if you’re applying for something in fashion, like Michael Kors, I need to see something fashion on your resume. If I don’t see something fashion-related, I automatically assume you haven’t put any work into this resume, or you aren’t tailoring it for that position. So even if it’s that you did a fashion assignment in school, I want to see that and know that you’re trying really hard to connect the dots for me to show me why you should work for that company.
What do you look for when hiring someone?
LB: I think someone who is prepared, who has researched the company, and someone who has read the job description, as silly as that sounds. Some people don’t even read the job description anymore. And someone who is really keeping the interview focused on why they are the best person for the job. I think it’s really important that everyone has at least one or two questions to ask the employer at the end of the interview. Those questions should really be focused on what the employer is looking for in an intern or an entry-level candidate. You want the employer to leave the interview confident that the person they interviewed really understands the position and what they’re getting into. In 2016, going into 2017, so many people flake. They go into the interview and say they want the position and then they flake out because they don’t know what they signed up for or they just got busy or they applied for a bunch of other things. So I think it’s important for employers for candidates going into interviews that the candidate feels really focused, prepared and really serious about the position.
What advice would you give a 20-something with similar aspirations; someone who wants to be an entrepreneur like you?
LB: I would say that if I’m talking to all of the young entrepreneurs out there, I would say to use your college time to do as much research, prep and planning you can. You can start a business in college or you don’t have to start a business in college; you don’t need to put pressure on yourself to start a business in college. But you can utilize some of that extra time you have in college—and I know a lot of college students are reading this and thinking, “Oh, I don’t have any time.”—but I mean use the weekends, in the morning, late at night because in college you don’t go out until 11 p.m. Use that time you have to plan, to craft, to research. I didn’t really do that so I had to spend time doing that as a young business owner when I could’ve been putting the pedal to the metal moving forward. So I would just reiterate doing research, reading books on the subject you’re interested in and just preparing as much as you can before launching that business.