Posted by: Sara S. | February 5, 2009

Q&A: Questions about internships? The Intern Queen has answers.

After completing 15 internships in college and then starting her own business dedicated to helping students find work, Lauren Berger considers herself the “Intern Queen.” Berger, who is 24 and living in Los Angeles, runs the internship page of a social networking site called Quarter Life.  The site’s main goal, Berger says, “is to let students know their dreams are realistic–and these internships are an integral part of that.” And considering the site gets 3,000 unique visitors a day and Berger has received more than 2,500 resumes since launching in August, a lot of students are dreaming big. Below, Berger talks about her experience with Quarter Life and shares her advice for finding a job in today’s difficult market.

What function does your Quarter Life site serve in the employment world?

It’s the bridge that connects students with their future. Internships are so important and they’re becoming so competitive; and with today’s economy and layoffs, companies that are hiring interns–getting people who work hard but don’t receive a salary–are getting a great opportunity. Plus, we have postings from Fortune-500 companies, sure, but a good portion of the companies on the site are also start-up companies.

So the recession has increased the popularity of internships?

Because of all the layoffs, people do want free help. With an internship you give a student college credit and they work really hard for you: it’s beneficial for the company and really beneficial for the student who makes professional contacts.

Why are internships important for future professionals?

If you have internships under your belt, you have a much better chance of getting a job you apply for. If you have no internships under your belt, you need to be applying to some because you’re going to make contacts and these contacts are people who refer you to your next position.

Based on your experiences with job-seeking students, what are some trends among today’s twenty-something set?

The big thing to remember with Generation Y is that everyone wants quick information and wants it fast. With all of the technology and social networking sites, everyone is finding new ways to communicate things quickly and that has spread to the ways they want internships. These students are on it [looking for positions] and they want the internships and want to get them quickly; and if they apply to one and don’t get it, they want to apply to another.

What advice do you have for students applying to internships?

1. When applying to internships, it’s important to have all the materials together and prepared. Your resume only needs to be one page long, currently updated and it can’t have nothing on it. A lot of times, the problem with freshmen and sophomores is they have no experience, but they need to know they have had experiences, they just need to look at small experiences–volunteering with their families, high school activities–and pick out the important tasks they have learned.

2. Before interviewing–and even before you apply–go online and find out the company’s mission statement. Find out if it’s something you want to be involved with, and tie that into your answers at your interview: make it clear you understand the company’s mission and you want to help work on the goals the company is trying to achieve.

3. When interviewing, go in there with a sense of passion and excitement for what you’re doing.

Feel free to email Lauren with your own questions at internqueen@quarterlife.com, or visit her internship site for more information.

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