Lauren Berger started out as a clueless college freshman at University of Central Florida, whose only work experience was waitressing at a seafood restaurant.
But the 27-year-old woman has become an authority on landing internships.
She completed 15 internships by the time she graduated from college in 2006 and started a business helping students find internships in 2008.
In her recently published book All Work, No Pay, the “Intern Queen” shares her hard-earned knowledge and insider advice on how to become an intern and get the most out of every internship opportunity.
1. Cold calling can work.
It all started in the spring of her *freshman year when her *pushy mother called and insisted she get an internship.
Berger headed to Florida State’s career office where she was told that they had nothing for her. “They said, ‘There is one company in town called the Zimmerman Agency, but they only accept seniors,’” she recalled in her book.
She went back to her dorm and researched the Zimmerman Agency. After taking some time to study the company’s website, she picked up the phone to cold-phone: “Hello, this is Lauren Berger calling. May I speak with your internship *coordinator?”
She got through, and the woman told her to send in a resume and cover letter.
2. Take immediate action when you get a lead.
Berger e-mailed her materials to the company’s internship coordinator that evening. She wanted the coordinator to know that this internship was a *priority and didn’t want the woman to forget their phone conversation.
The next morning, her phone rang at 8 am. The coordinator was so impressed by Berger’s *promptness, she offered her an interview. “She said, ‘you don’t know how long students take to send in their materials,’” recalled Berger in an interview with Forbes.
3. Make yourself available.
The internship coordinator from Zimmerman wanted to know if she 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,” writes Berger in the book. She made herself available on the day and at the time the coordinator requested.
4. Prepare for the interview.
Before each interview, Berger would do further researches about the company, including the firm’s mission statement and executive *biographies.
“Look for things you have in common with the people who run the company,” she advises. Berger recommends *incorporating *buzzwords from the mission statement into your interview.
5. Say you’re ready to start immediately.
Sometimes, employers tell applicants they can take time to think about whether they want the job. Berger says you should break in and say, “I know I want this.” Berger’s eagerness and *persistence came through and she got the Zimmerman internship.
6. Work hard and send handwritten thank-you notes after your internship concludes.
After each internship concluded, Berger wrote to her employers by hand, thanking them for the experience. She kept *copious notes of all her colleagues and superiors, and sent snail mail notes to each one, three times a year. Since she started as an intern back in 2002, Berger has built a network of thousands of contacts.