Candid Conversations: The Intern Queen Shares Her Best Career Advice

Featured on Forbes.com for ForbesWomen. Written by Elana Lyn Gross, Contributor

When Lauren Berger was an undergraduate at the University of Central Florida, she interned at 15 companies. "Each internship taught me so much about myself both personally and professionally. When it came to finding these internships and learning how to make the most of them – I could never find any information," she says. In 2008, just two years after graduation, Berger used $5,000 of her personal savings to start the company she wished she had when she was in college.

Intern Queen has a job board, career advice articles and college ambassadors who write for the blog and represent the company on campus. It's free for students, but companies pay to post internships and to work with Intern Queen's campus marketing agency. Berger has written three books, including her most recent book Get It Together: Ditch the Chaos, Do the Work, and Design your Success.

Elana Lyn Gross: What was the pitching and writing process like for Get It Together? What advice would you give to other people who want to write a nonfiction book?

Lauren Berger: Get It Together was my third book, so the pitching process was slightly easier than it was with my first book. That being said, the basics are the same. I pitch the idea to my book agent who I’ve been working with for years. She’s a great sounding board and not afraid to tell me how it is, and I take a stab at putting together a proposal. I send it to the book agent, we get it to a good place, send it around to publishing houses and then ideally the offers start to come to the table. This book actually took years to write and to get to the place where I was happy with it. I worked on it on and off for about three years.

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Gross: What are the top three key takeaways you'd like people to have after reading Get It Together?

Berger: You don’t have to feel so busy all of the time. And better yet – it’s okay not to be busy at all. In fact, I challenge you to tell someone that you aren’t busy or just mention nothing about “being busy” the next time you see someone.

Part of getting it together is dealing with rejection and failure. I have a whole chapter dedicated to this topic – it’s one of my favorites.

You have to prioritize yourself – no one else will. There are ways to redefine your goals and routine. There are ways to do better work, achieve more and feel better at work and at home, but it’s up to you to activate those strategies.

Gross: What are the most important characteristics someone needs to have to be successful in your role?

Berger: Honestly? Embrace rejection, love rejection and expect rejection. It’s tough out there. Be resilient.

Gross: You have thousands of Intern Queen members. What advice would you give to other entrepreneurs who hope to create an offline and online community?

Berger: Be consistent, have a voice and don’t write content just to write content. Focus on quality over quantity. Build personal one-on-one relationships the best that you can. Word of mouth will always be your best and strongest marketing tool.

Gross: What's the biggest lesson you learned at work, and how did you learn it?

Berger: It’s hard to pick one lesson – I learn so many each day. One lesson is that no matter how big your team is, no one will care as much as you do. At the end of the day, it still falls on you to push your business up the mountain.

Gross: What is one thing that you wish you had known when you were starting out your career?

Berger: I wish I would have known that rejection doesn’t mean never, it just means not right now. Things change, people get promoted and people come around. Hang in there!

Gross: What is the best advice you've ever received?

Berger:  You miss 100% of the chances you don’t take. Just ask. What’s the worst that can happen?

Gross: What is your business advice for other young professional women?

Berger: Collaborate, introduce yourself, fail hard and know when to pivot.

#ICYMI: Josh Levine's upcoming book "Great Mondays" Excerpt

The 6 Components of Company Culture

Excerpt from Chapter 1 of GREAT MONDAYS: How to design a company culture employees love.

What will it take to be a place people not only want to work, but love to work? A persistent and consistent commitment to designing culture. *Persistent* because culture is a core business capability. Don’t think of it as this year’s priority; it will certainly be usurped by the next shiny business imperative that comes along. *Consistent* because the best solutions come from constraints. Design is messy. Imagining, creating, and implementing something new is hard, particularly in business. (Just ask any executive who attempted to build an innovation team.) But by having a system in which to work, the tasks become much more understandable. And do-able.

The six-part framework in this book can enable leaders at all levels in all types of organizations to imagine, create, and implement a work-life that supports employees, customers, and business. It is a process that builds on its own momentum to become a self-reinforcing system. An upward cycle that will draw in the people who want to help an organization reach its purpose.

The first three components are about creating the vision for the culture, while the second three are about bringing the culture to life. Together all six create a system for taking an active role in the outcome of how people feel and are engaged in the organization. A system for designing a culture employees love.

Read more here.

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#ICYMI: Natalia Petrzela for The Washington Post

The new Colin Kaepernick campaign captures the tension between Nike’s values and its reality

Nike ignited a firestorm with the announcement that it has re-signed an endorsement deal with former NFL quarterback Colin Kaepernick. During Thursday night’s Eagles-Falcons game, the company launched its new “Just Do It” ads starring the quarterback best known for being blackballed for popularizing “taking a knee” during the national anthem as a protest of racism in America. The new Kaepernick contract and ad have boosted Nike’s bottom line, while prompting a furious backlash from the president and his followers.

This new campaign fits with Nike’s painstakingly developed image as a forward thinking, innovative company that has evolved from selling sneakers out of co-founder Phil Knight’s trunk nearly half a century ago to promoting sports as an almost spiritual, self-actualizing exercise. Since 1988, the "Just Do It" ads in particular, featuring athletes including jogging folk hero Walt Stack, golfer Tiger Woods, tennis star Serena Williams and groups of girls gaining confidence through sport, have all cultivated this capacious sensibility.

But these inspirational branding efforts have often been out of step with the on-the-ground experience at Nike, where issues of equity have long dogged the corporate giant. Like all corporations, profit propels Nike, but the loftiness of its professed principles makes the disconnect with some of its internal practices seem especially stark.

Read the rest of this piece here.

#ICYMI: Samantha Nutt Op-Ed for The Globe and Mail

The lessons women are asking men to learn

The entire circus around Brett Kavanaugh’s Supreme Court confirmation was an unwanted refresher for women and girls of the lessons forced upon us throughout our lives.

As girls, we learn that:

To have opinions is to be angry,

To be angry is to be unattractive,

To be smart is to be threatening,

To speak up is to be shut down,

To have confidence is to be demeaned,

To have strength is to be intimidated,

To be difficult is to be lonely.

As women, we learn that:

To have ideas is to be ignored,

To ask questions is to be discounted,

To be ambitious is to be obnoxious,

To tell the truth is to be accused of lying,

To have expertise is to be dismissed,

To be successful is to be judged,

To be in the spotlight is to be attacked.

Read the rest of the piece here.