This Monday, our Public Relations Student Society of America Chapter brought Lauren Berger, the “Intern Queen,” to campus to talk to us about careers, internships, jobs, networking, and more! Lauren was truly a great speaker, and as her chauffeur for the evening, I got to hear all her tips for work-life balance and deciding what you really want out of your career. (She even took a picture of my new bag for her Pinterest page!) Rockstar status.
If you’re a student, on your job hunt, or just want to learn how to advance your career, check out some of her best advice below:
- Nothing about an internship is about the “right now.” You’re probably not getting paid or even getting a job offer out of an internship. It’s a time to learn what you like to do, and oftentimes more importantly, what you don’t like to do.
- Research the company before you even apply. You should know every single internship you’ve applied to because you should have researched the company to insure it’s the right fit for you. Don’t waste your time sending a generic cover letter and resumes to different employers just to apply — they’ll be able to tell you’re not actually interested.
- Use your career services center. Show them your resume. Do a mock interview. Let them help figure out what type of internships are out there. As a student, this is all free. After graduation, it’ll never be free again.
- Follow up after the interview. Send a handwritten thank you note. It takes five minutes of your time but is often the deciding factor of you versus another candidate.
- Know the requirements. As most internships in this field are unpaid, Lauren noted you should only be working 2-3 days per week for about 12-15 hours.
- Therefore, do more than one internship! More experiences will always, always help you.
- Use your cover letter to help connect the dots for the employer. Spell it out. If you’re a student in Tennessee and you’re applying for an internship in NYC, say that you’re going to be in New York for the summer and therefore am interested in the position. Don’t make them guess anything.
- Customize, customize, customize. If you read your cover letter over and think it could be send to any other company, go back and customize it some more. Swapping out the name of one company for another doesn’t cut it.
- Stay in touch with your contacts at least three times per year. Shoot them an email just to say hi or send over an article you think they might like. Stay relevant!
- Informational interviews are so important. You’re only a student once, so milk it. Ask for short informational interviews with company execs or just any professional you want to talk to. You’ll learn from them, and it’s a great way to get in front of them. (I agree! I’ve been doing these for about three months and have met some amazing professionals who are always willing to help!)
Finally, Lauren said to know your dream job and let everyone else know it to. People are more willing to help when they know exactly what you’re looking for — no ambiguities. Be passionate, take the initiative, and you’ll see results!