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Study Abroad and Domestic Study Away

Notes from Chicago: Sandra on ACTIVATE

Sandra Khouri ’20 is an Economics and Philosophy double major as well as a Legal Studies minor.  Her internship was with O’Connor Law Firm, a personal injury firm with an impressive success rate for settling large cases.

With my experience in the ACTIVATE program coming to a close, I need to express how wonderful my time was this summer. Living in the heart of the South Loop of Chicago made me feel so alive and busy. In our seminars with Professor Ben Tanzer, we explored the city and all of its rich connections to Lake Forest. Professor Tanzer brought in numerous professionals who were based in Chicago to speak to the class. Everyone he brought in was fantastic. These speakers were incredible connections with diverse skill sets. To name a few, there was Cyn Vargas, Author of short-story collection On The Way and Diversity and Inclusion Manager at Hinshaw & Culbertson LLP; Liz Mason, Manager at Quimby’s Bookstore; and Mark Hancock, the President of Victory Lap. We learned how to ace interview questions, how to make a good impression when networking, and how to write outstanding applications for the jobs we want.

On top of the speakers, Professor Tanzer also took us on four amazing field trips. For our first field trip, Professor Tanzer took us to meet Randy Lauer, who is a Lake Forest Graduate from the class of ’81; the Managing Director at Citibank; and a member of the Lake Forest College Board of Trustees. Mr. Lauer had prepared a presentation for us on working in finance and brought out five recent graduates from Lake Forest College that he hired to answer our questions. Mr. Lauer expressed his excitement about his alma matter and willingness to connect with Lake Forest College students.

The week following our field trip to Citibank, Professor Tanzer pulled a complete 180 and took us to meet with an old colleague of his, Ed Stellon, who is currently the Executive Producer at non-profit Heartland Alliance Health. Mr. Stellon told us about what it’s like to work at a non-profit and how surprisingly similar it is to a for profit company. The key difference, as he explained it to us, is that non-profit workers need to feel like their efforts matter and see the good their work puts out into the world. It’s not as simple as letting people clock in and clock out without knowing why they’re here; the people who work in non-profit companies are motivated by more than just money. I had an especially touching connection with Mr. Stellon, as he mentioned that other Heartland Alliance locations did work with Syria refugees; with many people in my family coming from Syria, I felt especially inclined to share my family’s story.

We also went to see Carlos Rolón, an artist who goes by DZINE. Mr. Rolon told us the story of his life, his experiences with poverty, and how he gives back to his roots. Mr. Rolon gave us a very personal talk and made an effort to connect to each of us individually. He showed us some pieces he was currently working on and the renovations he was finishing on his studio. At the end of his time with us, he left out a pad of paper and let each of us leave our contact information. He then emailed each of us individually and even connected with us on Instagram.

For our last trip we went to see the LinkedIn office with Pam Hoadley and Nicci Bosco. They showed us around the beautiful offices and explained how well LinkedIn treats the people they hire. Ms. Hoadley and Ms. Bosco shared their career pathways with us and also showed us the basics of setting up our LinkedIn pages. As I’ve been meaning to fix my LinkedIn page since I made it, hearing what they had to say and looking at how they set up their profiles really inspired me. Both Ms. Hoadley and Ms. Bosco expressed their willingness to connect with us via LinkedIn and to connect further than this meeting.

For our last seminar with Professor Tanzer, he went all out. He invited five recent Lake Forest College graduates who were already in the professional world as well as seven connections of his own that he thought would meet our interests. One student in our program wants to go into human resources, so Professor Tanzer invited a friend of his who owns his own HR company. Another person in the program really wants to go into finance and he connected with a professional trader. Some professionals Professor Tanzer invited worked for themselves, others were in nonprofit, and others were in corporate. It was wonderful to make so many connections and have such interesting conversation with such a diverse crowd. Overall, Professor Tanzer went above and beyond with this course and I couldn’t be happier with how it turned out. Without him, the Center for Chicago Programs, and the Career Advancement Center these experiences would be so far out of reach for me.