Spotlight: The Intern Queen, Part 1
Lauren Berger, originally from Clearwater, Florida, completed 15 internships while getting her undergrad degree at University of Cental Florida. She is now the internship expert/facilitator for Gen Y social networking site, Quarterlife.com, and the spokesperson/face for University of Dreams.
YII caught up with her recently to find out about all those intenships, and about the journey from being an intern to being The Intern Queen.
What was your major and what did you think you would end up doing as a career?
I wanted to be a magazine writer at first, when I was a freshman. I had been an award-winning writer in school. First, I started with magazine internships, then went to publicity, then to entertainment.
What was your first internship? How did you get it?
Zimmerman Agency in Tallahassee, FL., an advertising and PR firm. Writing and PR were my focuses. I had initially asked my career counselor for an intership and she said there were only two internships in publicity and I had to wait until I was a senior to get one. Knowing better than to take “no” for an answer, I contacted the agency directly and landed the internship myself.
What was your first entertainment industry internship?
My first industry internship (which was my 2nd internship) was in New York. A career counselor at my school had said “no” to going to NYC. She told me I could only go as a junior. So I looked into it on my own, found a smaller company that didn’t have an established internship program, and arranged it myself. I worked at Backstage, the industry trade publication, and also at a small entertainment magazine that has since folded. That experience opened up a new world of entertainment internships.
What was your first internship in LA?
The summer after sophomore year, I headed to Los Angeles for two internships at entertainment PR companies, BWR Public Relations and (now defunct) Warren Cowen & Associates PR. The reason I chose those two companies is that one was large and one was boutique and I wanted to see the difference in the working experience. I definitely recommend that type of thing- being able to compare one type of work situation to another.
(As an aside, during this time, I found a business card for an US magazine editor on the floor of one of the companies I was interning for. I emailed him, establishing contact, and sent him my clips. As a result, I got work for US Weekly- following around celebrities and writing about them- and then also got paid gigs at Nickelodeon and Seventeen.)
What was the maxiumum number of internships you had at one time?
The summer after junior year. CBS had offered me a paid internship, but I turned it down because they wanted me to work full time. I knew it was my last summer to explore options before I had to choose a path so I got three internships. On Monday and Tuesday, I interned at 20th Century Fox TV in Drama Development. On Wednesday and Saturday, I interned at MTV Radio (for this, I was sent to interview celebrities at press conferences). On Thursday & Friday, I was at NBC, in their on-air promotions dept.
Were you ever worried about spreading yourself too thin?
No. I operate best when I am busy.
Did you get college credit for all of your internships?
No. I only got credit for two of my internships. I got ‘transcript recognition’ for the others, which was a compromise work-around that allowed me to work at some places that required college credit.
Come back Wednesday for Part 2 of our interview with Lauren Berger, The Intern Queen.
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