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Elias Stimac Talks with “Intern Queen” Lauren Berger

(Opposite photo of Lauren Berger and her Intern Friends - Lauren Berger is in the middle)

Lauren Berger went from being an actual intern at a New York-based publication to becoming President/Designer/Founder of Intern Queen Inc. (

The self-professed patron saint to the “overworked and underpaid,” Berger had fifteen internships during her four years of college. Only one was a paying assignment – and for that job, she received a mere $100 stipend. As she relates, “My internships were all great experiences, but was I overworked and underpaid? Of course! That's the joy of being an intern -- All Work - No Pay.”

After working for a variety of publishing offices, public relations firms, and networks including Fox, MTV, and NBC, the Florida native established Intern Queen Inc. in May of 2006 and is has building the media/lifestyle company into an Internet phenomenon. While she has graduated to a real job in the entertainment industry, Berger still considers herself a “professional intern” and uses her press and speaking opportunities to reach out to younger students and encourage them to intern and go after what they want.

NYCool: What was your first major interning assignment?

Berger: My first big internship was with Backstage Magazine, the theatre trade publication based right in New York City. That was huge! I still remember the address -- 770 Broadway. It was a dream come true! I was an editorial intern.

NYCool: How did you survive that job without intern advice, and is that what inspired you to start the company?

Berger: I never had much advice when it came to internships, so I learned what to do by messing up… and then messing up again. I survived by growing a thick skin, not taking anything too personally, and having a positive attitude while being open to learning new things. I had to learn the hard way! I wanted to start my company, Intern Queen Inc, to help my peers as much as possible with their internship experiences. It will also save their bosses some heavy yelling!

NYCool: How is interning in New York different from other cities?

Berger: Interning in New York is great because you have someplace to live with other interns! It’s called NYU Summer Housing. The University opens its doors to other college students interning around the city. I made so many great friends and we were all motivated interns -- we still stay in touch. New York was such a big change from Florida, and I learned how to work and get around in a big city. And, of course, the shopping was amazing!

NYCool: What were the steps to forming your own company?

Berger: First, I needed to decide exactly what I envisioned my company to be, and that was a media/lifestyle company for interns. It was based on my definition of an intern -- anyone between the ages of 12-30 who is experimenting with new lifestyles, careers, relationships. My company has a clothing division, Internal Ethiks; a consulting division Intern Queen Consulting; and I'm creating an online magazine and pursuing other media ventures as well.

My "things to do list" when I formed my company also included contacting a lawyer immediately to make sure everything I did was kosher; getting incorporated (an S corp) so that my personal earnings were separate from the company’s earnings; opening a company bank account; and obtaining my occupational licenses.

NYCool: What have been the rewards and challenges of running your own company?

Berger: Anything goes, and my ideas are never too big. I decide what I want to do, when I want to do it, and how I'm going to do it. And no one is there to say "you can't do that." My creative space is uninterrupted.

The biggest challenges have been relocating from Florida to California and changing the business paperwork over and working with people who do not follow through. I'm spent so much valuable time working with potential interns, assistants, and other companies -- and they have completely flaked on me. That takes up lots of time and energy. It’s so important to do business with people who have a great sense of responsibility and follow through with what they say.

NYCool: Did you ever have interns of your own?

Berger: I did - they flaked as well!

NYCool: How does your new website reflect the way your company is growing?

Berger: The website should serve as an interactive tool for students to reach me and see what I'm up too. I'm working on creating an online magazine as well. The website allows for many different features, blogspots, news bites, etc. With the growing trends of sites like YouTube and, I hope my site can begin to work with sites like those via cross promotions, videoblogs, etc.

NYCool: What has the response been to your new clothing line, Internal Ethiks?

Berger: Whenever I go into a clothing store I always see the table of logo T-shirts and look for one that I can relate too -- I never find shirts that I can identify with. These shirts cater to anyone who is overworked and underpaid. I've had a great response so far, especially among my peers and college students.

NYCool: Now that you are working in the real world, how did interning prepare you for an actual job?

Berger: Interning taught me how to work a copy machine, how to make coffee, how to interact with co-workers, how to grow a thick skin, how to deal with assholes, and much more !

NYCool: What is the best way a person can get started as an intern?

Berger: The best way to start as an intern is to go to the bookstore or go online and find the companies you want to work for. Google the company and find their contact information. Then call the Internship Coordinator and put the required materials together to catch someone’s eye and get the position!

NYCool: What is one thing interns should take away with them from any assignment?

Berger: It’s important for interns to realize that even during bad internships you learn something -- something about yourself, something about working with others and something about that particular field. Internships are really priceless, and I absolutely recommend internships as a step everyone should take before entering the workplace.

(Elias Stimac is an entertainment writer and critic. Send feedback to





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