If you’re about to graduate (or just graduated), chances are you’ve heard one or two people mention something called “the real world,” but what is this mythical place? And how do you get there?
Luckily, you don’t have to attempt to answer these questions on your own. You’ve got plenty of resources to help guide your transition to life after college.
Lauren Berger knows all about the college to career transition. She graduated from the University of Central Florida in 2006 with a degree in Communications and went on to found InternQueen.com, a resource to guide college students through the internship process.
We caught up with Lauren to discuss her latest project—a new book, Welcome to the Real World: Finding Your Place, Perfecting Your Work, and Turning Your Job Into Your Dream Career.
Where did the idea for Welcome to the Real World come from and how did you go about writing it?
For years, my platform has been solely about internships. I started my business in 2009 and I’ve had the pleasure of helping many young ambitious students find, land, and make the most of their internship experiences. I’ve watched some of them graduate college and come back to me—this time for career advice. Until recently, we didn’t have much to offer them.
My new book, Welcome to the Real World, marks a new chapter in my career as a young entrepreneur. With the new book, we launched our new big sister site to InternQueen.com, LaurenBergerInc.com where I provide advice on careers, entrepreneurship, and fashion at work. The new book is the beginning of this new chapter and tells young people how to be successful in their first, second, or third job.
What are your roles and responsibilities at Intern Queen? What does a typical day look like for you?
This is a fun question for me. I’m the CEO of Intern Queen Inc. which now includes both the InternQueen.com site and the new LaurenBergerInc.com site. I also oversee all of our branding/marketing/endorsement campaigns and brand extension work. It’s my job to oversee the ship and make sure everything is running smoothly!
If I’m on the road, a typical day usually includes an early wake-up call to answer lots of emails and get on top of my day, a press interview or TV morning show, a meal with clients, several conference calls with my team about our current projects, and a speaking engagement at a college, high school, or conference.
Tomorrow, I’m actually “home” in Los Angeles for the first time in a few weeks. I’m going to wake up at 5:30am, sign some contracts, check my emails, write some content, I’ll go to KTLA to be LIVE on their morning show at 8:45. I’ll come home around 10:30 to really get into my workday and I’ll force myself to wrap up around 6pm so I can go grocery shopping, work out, and catch up on The Good Wife! I need some #normal time!
You started your company at age 24. What prompted your decision to do that and was that process like?
My first job out of college was at a huge talent agency—it was a great learning experience, but I couldn’t stop thinking about my Intern Queen idea. It got so bad that I felt that I had to quit or else I would regret not giving Intern Queen a try forever!
It wasn’t an easy process at all. I had to do a lot of soul searching, a lot of confidence building within myself. I knew it could work, but I had to prove it to my family, my friends, and really, to the world.
The first day of running my own business, I cried. I had so much freedom I didn’t know what to do…
What were some of the most important lessons you learned during your internships and first years out of college?
I learned how to think, act, and solve problems like a professional. I learned how to construct a professional email. The best part of my internships was that they motivated me to really think seriously about my future and what I wanted to do with the rest of my life.
You mentioned on your site that you have some funny/embarrassing stories that you share in the book. What is one of the most memorable ones?
I don’t want to give any away—but let’s say this—I messed up EVERYTHING at my first job. And I open up about that and share some of my major mess-ups in the new book.
Summer internship season is right around the corner. What advice do you have for making the most of a summer internship?
Walk in that door every day and ask yourself, “What can I do today to make the most of this opportunity?” Think about the last impression. What will they say about you when your internship is complete? Were you reliable? Did you prove yourself every day?
What’s coming up next for Intern Queen?
I’m really focusing on the new book and the new platform, LaurenBergerInc.com. The new site is much more personal and it’s fun to share what I’ve learned over the years with my audience.
We have one copy of Lauren’s book to give away to a lucky reader. Leave us a note in the comments to let us know your biggest question about the transition from college to career. The giveaway is open from May 21 until June 4. We’ll choose a winner based on the quality of response.