“What a great story for emerging leaders!”, I thought to myself as I started crafting Lauren Berger’s story. Lauren is the founder and CEO of Intern Queen, an online internship marketplace where students and employers can search, mingle and connect. But with each keyboard stroke, it became apparent that Lauren would be an inspiration to anyone who needs a boost in self-confidence to follow his or her heart.
Intern Queen started in Lauren’s head in 2006 when she graduated from college but it didn’t become a reality until three years later. Here are 6 lessons we can all learn from how she turned an idea into a thriving business with only $5,000.
1. Find your inspiration
I said this before: “inspiration is all around us and you just never know where it will come from.” Our life experiences, – whether they are yours or someone else’s -, and our stories may send us subtle – or not so subtle – messages. But we need to keep an open mind and heart to be able to receive them.
Lauren’s inspiration came from the 15 internships she completed while in college. “As I went through my own internship experiences, I realized that there wasn’t really a good and simple way to find internships and get more information about them. I wanted to make it easy for students and companies looking for interns to discover and connect with each other. I wanted to help.”
2. Listen to your heart….
No, I’m not talking about the song by Roxette, an 80’s rock band. Lauren’s plan was to work as an employee of an established business with no intention to start her own. She moved to LA in 2006 and landed a job at a talent agency but she just could not get Intern Queen out of her head (and heart). And at the tender age of 24, she bid farewell to her employer and launched her company.
3. …But have an action plan (even if it changes)
“It always seems impossible until it’s done”, are the words of Nelson Mandela that resonated most with Lauren as she started articulating her action plan. “I was a communications major, not a business major so I was more focused on following my passion than making money. I needed to remind myself to find ways to monetize it. I split up the work into smaller, digestible chunks and tackled it piece by piece”, says the entrepreneur. “For starters, I made a promise to myself to call 40 schools every day to secure speaking engagements. In my first year, I made about $30,000 from these engagements that allowed me to build out my website and grow my business”.
4. Believe in yourself
“Failure is not an option”, said Lauren to herself over and over as she went out on her own with no financial support or other cash injection from investors. All she had was $5,000 in her savings account….and bills to pay. Her family and friends didn’t have any experience in running their own business so she had to figure everything out for herself. “Once I committed to Intern Queen, I wasn’t thinking about failure anymore, I just wanted to make it work. I knew I could make it work. I had the drive to make it work. And all of a sudden, I didn’t want a regular job anymore.”Believe in yourself. Click To Tweet
5. Stick with it
“My confidence has been tried many times. I have faced rejection after rejection, and continue to face it. But all of these experiences have helped me get to where I am today. I also learned that rejection doesn’t mean never. It just means not right now. I have encountered many businesses that rejected my services but have come around 2 – 3 years later. I have become a lot more comfortable with rejection without bringing down my self confidence.”
6. Give yourself a “timeout”
Lauren is on the road a lot and when she’s at home, she guards her time. She makes deliberate choices about how, where and with whom she spends time with. She enjoys getting back into a routine to ground herself, relies on her close personal relationships to keep her going, and exercises religiously. But what I find most refreshing about her distressing routine is something everyone should consider: her cellphone habits. “People are surprised when they hear that I took my work email off my phone. Not something they’d expect from an entrepreneur but I found it hard to fall asleep when I read a stressful email on my phone right before going to bed. So I did away with email on my phone.”
And to the author of “All Work, No Pay” and “Welcome to the Real World,” sleep is essential to her success (and sanity).
Lauren, thank you for sticking with it despite all the trying times. You have not only changed your life but touched the lives of tens of thousands of people. As you said in the interview: “the world is a big place and there’s room for everyone to play. It’s possible to do anything you want to do—even more so today than at any other time.” Keep on playing!
Image by Pixabay, Pexels