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Five Questions For: Lauren Berger

During 15 internships as an undergrad, Lauren Berger learned all the ins and outs. She created and her new book, All Work, No Pay (Ten Speed Press) is all about the benefits of internships. We asked her Five Questions.

1) I’m a high school or college student. Why should I seek an internship?

Internships provide real world experience and a hands-on opportunity for you to learn entry-level tasks, network with professionals and figure out what you want to do after college. Studies show that students with internship experience get job offers earlier and with a higher starting salary then those without internship experience.

2) An employer is willing to let me be an intern – but won’t pay me anything? Is this legal, fair and should I be offended?

Nope. Internships are either paid or unpaid. Normally, unpaid internships are only 12-15 hours per week while paid internships tend to be full-time. Think of an unpaid internship as an investment in your future – a learning experience. I promise – in the bigger picture – it will all be worth it.

3) What three qualities do employers look for in interns?

Employers look for interns who are reliable, trustworthy, and professional.

4) How do I increase my chances of getting picked as an intern at the company of my choice?

Prepare yourself. Look up the deadlines. In All Work, No Pay, I discuss creating your Intern Queen Dream List to keep your applications organized. Go to your career center and have them look over your resume and cover letter. Do a mock interview at the Career Center. Tailor your materials for the positions you are applying for.

5) Why does it seem that more companies want young people to start as interns – and will consider hiring them only if and when they do well? Is this the new norm?

Think about it. If you are the employer, who do you want to hire? The student with professional experience — or the one without? It makes sense. Students leave internships a more qualified job candidate.

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