Business Week Magazine named Lauren Berger number five on their annual list of Young Entrepreneurs 25 Under 25. America Online says, “If you are going to college and wondering what you are going to do this summer — you need to look her up.” Mobile Youth has placed her in the top 10 Youth Marketing Minds of 2010.
Lauren Berger is CEO of Intern Queen Inc, an online internship destination that helps students find and apply for internships while also educating them on how to make the most of their experiences. Lauren grew up in Clearwater, Fla., and participated in 15 internships during her four years of college, hence the title “Intern Queen.” She earned a degree in organizational business communications at the University of Central Florida and interned for top-notch companies across the country like MTV, FOX, BWR Public Relations and NBC.
Lauren applied her knowledge of the industry to her first job post-college at Creative Artists Agency in Beverly Hills, Calif. She told everyone at the company of her business ambitions, and it caught the eye of Hollywood producer, Marshall Herskovitz (“The Last Samurai,” “Blood Diamond,” “Defiance”). Marshall invested in her start-up in June 2008.
Now, as CEO of Intern Queen Inc. and as a national college speaker, Lauren works with more than 500 employers located all over the U.S. and in Canada. Her site, InternQueen.com, reaches more than 40,000 different students, parents and employers each month. She has connected hundreds of students with the internships of their dreams. She also has spoken to thousands of high school and college students at more than 35 colleges and universities in 16 different states. She has a weekly advice column with The Washington Post website and recently was featured in The Wall Street Journal, FoxBusiness, The New York Post, AOL, Alloy.com, YPulse.com, E!News.com, Yahoo Business, MarieClaire.com and more.
In her spare time, Lauren loves traveling, spending time with friends and family, and catching up on her DVR!
What are you working on right now?
As I complete this interview, I’m on a plane from Burbank to Hartford, to endure a 12-day stint on the road for my 2010 National Fall Speaking Tour. I’m concerned with making the most of the presentation, capturing student contact information to convert them into InternQueen.com users, incorporating my message and each school’s message regarding internships, and making sure that my voice doesn’t disappear in the process! After all, I’m speaking about 12 times over the next 12 days! Simultaneously, I’m managing my team, instructing a group of 40-plus Intern Queen Campus Ambassadors around the country, starting a new advertising campaign, doing social media, blogging, redesigning the homepage to InternQueen.com, and tonight is the second conference call of our newly launched Intern Queen Phone Series! Lots going on at all times!
3 trends that excite you?
In my business, I see students eager to work on their future at a young age. High school students are starting to take on multiple internship opportunities. Over the next three to five years this is going to create a higher caliber intern for employers once the students hit college, more buzz about the career center and better prepared students for graduation.
My business is run on the idea that people want to connect, they want to talk to other people, they want that personal touch. In my case, they want to hear from someone who has been in their shoes — The Intern Queen. I’ve enjoyed watching brands create a voice for themselves over the past few years. Many brands are just catching on now, and it’s cool for people to be able to speak to their favorite brands and not just about them. Whenever I see brands engaging in conversation with their consumers over Twitter, it makes me very excited. There is something really special about me being able to open a line of dialogue with Dunkin Donuts or Samsung over Twitter. I tell college students every day to communicate with their favorite brands. Identify who they want to work for and find their Twitter/Facebook Pages. They want to engage and connect!
As Skype continues to rise in popularity, it’s going to make it much easier for entrepreneurs (like me) to take a U.S.-based company and make it global. Several of my friends use Skype to do that now, and it’s inspiring.
Free Wi-Fi in Coffee Shops — This helps me get my job done no matter what city I’m in!
Leggings With Everything!
I’m a girl, so I had to stick a fashion trend in there!
How do you bring ideas to life?
I try my best to not just talk about things. The second I think to myself, “You know what? I’ve been talking about this idea for a few weeks now and haven’t done anything with it,” that is when I know it’s time to take action. Everything can be done. It just takes baby steps. If you cannot do the work, delegate it to team members. You just have to get them done. Two weeks ago we brought Intern Queen Phone to life — it was an idea I had where students would dial-in to a conference line and be able to ask questions to the internship coordinators that would be looking at their resumes. I had the idea about two months ago and the second call will happen this evening. Last week we had the first call with Lauren Peteroy from BWR Public Relations and I remember thinking, “Wow. Lives were changed tonight on this call. Connections were made and big things are going to come out of it.” It felt good to see my idea come to life and know I’m offering value to these students.
What inspires you?
It really depends. Last week in New York City, I went to a screening of the documentary “30 Deeds, 30 Days” by radio personality Trey Morgan. He volunteers with a different non-profit every day for thirty days. I doubted the movie, but left inspired. I’m now taking action to make sure that Intern Queen is associated with philanthropy, and I’m brainstorming with my team how we can get involved with different organizations and inspire college students to do the same.
I get inspired by people who take control of their lives, who pick their lifestyle and then go live it. I can also get inspired by magazine articles, Web articles and reading biographies of the people I admire.
I’m a frequent speaker on the Extreme Entrepreneur Tour that my friend, Michael Simmons, created. They have a great network of young entrepreneurs and inspire students from all around the country to take initiative and build their own businesses. Whenever I speak with them, it’s magical. They really change people. It’s extremely inspiring.
What is one mistake you’ve made, and what did you learn from it?
When you first start your own business and you have no one guiding you, there are several mistakes to make. And I’ve made most of them. One that really stands out in my mind was that I was always under the impression that when you signed a contract, you were protected, no matter what. That isn’t true. Unfortunately, many people out there do not honor contracts and to fight contracts can cost thousands of dollars in legal bills. I learned to always have a back-up plan and be very careful getting into deals with other new businesses and startups.
What is one business idea that you’re willing to give away to our readers?
Is this a trick question? My thought is that if I gave you an idea, it wouldn’t work. You have to be passionate about your business. It has to be your baby. If I didn’t wake up each morning excited about Intern Queen and ready to move forward with more projects, I couldn’t do what I’m doing today. Look around, solve a problem, create a solution. Make it your goal to get it off the ground.
What is one book and one tool that helps you bring ideas to life?
Is it old-fashioned to say that all I need is a big empty colorful notebook?
[quote]I suggest taking an afternoon and spending it at your local bookstore. Grab a few different books that appeal to you in the business section, and start taking notes on any information that stands out to you.[/quote] In general, I enjoyed many parts of Julie Morgenstern’s “Never Check E-mail in the Morning” and Ivanka Trump’s, “The Trump Card.”
Software wise, I’m pretty basic. I always need my Microsoft Office, Google Docs and Google Calendar, and my day runs smoothly. My website is built on Drupal, so I’m constantly roaming around the backend of the Drupal site.
I’ve been a fan of ChrisBrogan.com, for a while and enjoy his blogs when I have a chance to catch up on them! My time management coach, Elizabeth Saunders, also puts out a great newsletter and blog entries. I’ve always been fascinated with how people spend their time, and twice per year Elizabeth helps me get my priorities in order. I think some people think they need a therapist, but they really just need a time management coach!
Who would you love to see interviewed on IdeaMensch?
Rachel Zoe! Ivanka Trump!
What is the most productive part of your day?
When I’m home and not traveling, I really value the hours between 6 a.m. and 10:30 a.m. I usually work out of my local coffee shop to get my morning started and to make sure I don’t go back to sleep (as I work from a home office). I get up around 5:30 a.m. or 6 a.m. and do whatever I can to get myself out the door and get coffee in my system quickly. I have a morning conference call that I usually do while walking outside, and then I try to get one writing project done in the morning before getting into the daily e-mail grind. This is something I picked up from Julie Morgenstern’s book I mentioned above. I’ve learned that once you get caught up in those e-mails, it’s a danger zone and hard to get out!
How do you balance your personal and professional time?
Personal time is important. That being said, it’s hard for me to take personal time. Whenever I have free time, I want to work. It’s important to surround yourself with people who can help you shut off the work side when it needs to be shut off. You cannot always be wired in. Every once in a while, I’ll stay in on a Friday night and just do a whole bunch of nothing — and it feels great. I also try to put away the computer a few hours before bed and make myself lounge around so I don’t go to sleep with my head spinning about Intern Queen.