For anyone graduating right now or who graduated in the last few years, you have probably heard the term “the real world” much more than you would like (and no, they are not talking about the ridiculously long-lasting MTV reality series which is quite far from reality.) They are referring to when you leave the safe, and often wild college environment and start your careers, which we all know can be a mindfield.
Luckily, we’ve been talking to someone who made a career out of dealing with that transition. Lauren Berger, founder of The Intern Queen, has provided a resource guide for college students (and interns of all ages) going through the internship process. She is currently on the road with her second book, “Welcome to The Real World,” spewing out advice on how to get from point A to point B when you don’t have a clue. We were lucky enough to sit down with The Queen and get some of her best tips on how you can make your internship the foundation of a great career.
If you could only give three tips to interns what would they be?
1. Ask for feedback–constantly. Don’t be afraid to look at yourself in the mirror and improve.
2. Meet as many people as you can inside your office. They are all going to be great professional contacts and you never know where people will end up.
3. Stay in touch three times per year. This is my Intern Queen rule–you stay in touch with your professional contacts three times per year–once during the fall, once during the spring, and once during the summer.
What is the worst thing an intern can do?
They can get a great internship and waste their time at the company. Be proactive, make sure you aren’t the intern sitting in the corner doing a whole bunch of nothing, seek out new tasks, become solution oriented, identify processes or tasks within the company that you want to help with and ask your supervisor if you can. Go after what you want. Also, make sure that you talk to your supervisor about your dream job. Your supervisor should be aware of your goals.
What have you found is the best way to get an internship?
To identify the companies that you want to work for–and apply for them–don’t wait to find the opportunity–go after it. In my first book “All Work, No Pay” I talk about creating an Intern Queen Dream List to help you organize and track your applications. Check it out HERE.
What was your favorite part about writing this book?
My new book, “Welcome to the Real World,” is all about succeeding at your first, second, or third job. My favorite part of writing the book was that I got to look back on all of the mistakes I made at my first, second, and third job and write about what I wish I knew before making those mistakes! I’m very honest/forthright in this book about everything I messed up.
What should all interns try to take away from any internship?
They should do a self-evaluation after the internship. What did I learn? What did I enjoy? What didn’t I enjoy? Would I want to work at this company? Why or why not? Would I want to work in this industry? What more do I wish I learned? Where do I want to intern next?
What are the most common mistakes made by interns?
They work hard to get the internship and slack off once they have it.
Is there a mistake you notice that female interns tend to make more than male?
No. All interns are created equal.
Is there anything female interns tend to do better than men?
What are some of your best professional attire tips for interns? What should they do if they work at a startup with a casual dress code?
For the interview, always dress professionally. Once you get the internship, ask your internship coordinator about the dress code. Follow the dress code even if the employees aren’t. No matter how casual the dress code, stay away from ripped jeans (yes, even expensive ones) and flip flops. Make it your goal to look “put together”.
What do you hope this book will accomplish?
This book will help everyone who is trying to navigate that first, second, and third job succeed, get promoted, and do the best they can at their job!
Photo: Courtesy of Intern Queen