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Niah Anson ’18
With the first ever Lake Forest College ACTIVATE Summer Internship Program is finally in full swing, I think it’s safe to say that myself, and the five others who are part of the first class of ACTIVATE participants, have finally settled in and are excited to call The Flats at East-West University home for the summer!
ACTIVATE is a career focused summer program which allows Lake Forest College students to live in the College’s Loop residences during the summer while having an internship in the city of Chicago.
The program includes weekly internship seminars that take us outside of the classroom and throughout the city. Our exploration began with a guided group tour of Chicago’s “culture and commerce”, presented by the Chicago Architecture Foundation. With stops at Millennium Park, Macy’s on State Street (which I’m continually reminded should only ever be called Marshall Field’s), and many more landmarks, we learned so much about Chicago — even with the sun blazing down on us with typical mid-June heat. From culture and commerce, we naturally moved on to” athletics and championships” as the following week’s internship seminar took place at Wrigley Field. We sat in the stands, listened to our tour guide talk about the Cub’s championship, and took pictures on the field and inside the dugout. This incredible tour culminated in a Q&A session with an employee of the massive franchise who works to recruit and retain season ticket holders (unfortunately, he didn’t bring his World Series ring.) Even though the tour was a once in a lifetime experience, I can’t exaggerate what the best part of that afternoon was: a trip to Jeni’s ice cream. As we enter week 3 of ACTIVATE, we’re excited to move from athletics and championships onto “art and creativity” with a trip to a glass blowing factory.
I’m thrilled to be blogging about our ACTIVATE adventures throughout the summer! I look forward to sharing highlights from our future trips, ever-so-slightly bragging about our incredible residence and its unbelievable view, and gaining an inside glimpse into the wide range of internships the six of us are participating in this summer.
July 13, 2017
When I moved into the Flats on the first day of ACTIVATE, I was only planning on staying for 8 weeks, opting against the 10-week option. I quickly realized that with 300 hours of an internship to complete and endless activities popping up all around Chicago, I had to switch to the 10-week option. My roommates also had a quick change of heart and switched to the 10-week plan. Five weeks later, it is hard to believe we are already halfway through the summer.
As part of ACTIVATE, I am interning for World Bicycle Relief, an international non-profit organization that harnesses the power of bicycles to mobilize people, specifically students, health care workers, and entrepreneurs in developing countries. As an organization that recognizes the power of the bicycle, and that also works within SRAM’s offices (a bike parts manufacturer), it should be no surprise that I’m constantly surrounded by bicycles during my time in the office. The stickers on our computers, the shirts we order, and even the decorations on our walls showcase our love for the bike. Most of my coworkers even commute to and from work on a bicycle: a vehicle I hadn’t stepped on in years.
It took a few weeks for me to summon the courage to rent a Divvy bike (Chicago’s bike-sharing program) right outside of the Flats and attempt to commute to work. I mean, how hard could it be? I grew up in Las Vegas riding road bikes and dirt bikes through the Red Rock Mountains; riding on a flat road should be easy. Spoiler alert: I was wrong.
A word of caution to anyone considering biking through the Chicago Loop at rush hour: don’t do it. You’ll get flustered, yelled at by passersby, and probably (definitely) fall. As for me, I abandoned the bike at a Divvy station about halfway to my office and hopped on the subway to travel the remaining distance to my internship.
When I arrived 45 minutes later and annoyed at all things bike, I claimed I would never ride again. Lucky enough, my co-workers knew not to take me seriously and the next day my fellow intern/expert bike rider rode home with me to show me the tricks and a more suitable route. Grateful, empowered, and equipped with my cousin’s old bike and unflattering helmet, I began biking to and from work every day since.
An internship at World Bicycle Relief has not only given me the opportunity to explore a career in a field I’ve always been passionate about, but it has also enabled me to experience Chicago in a new and active way. I now explore new areas that I had previously avoided that have bike paths, spend more time looking at the incredible Chicago views instead of Facebook videos during an “L” ride, and am thrilled to have a new way of experiencing other cities in the future. This is all thanks to the internship I was able to get through ACTIVATE and the incredible people of WBR who encouraged me.
August 2, 2017
Why ACTIVATE Is Different
After spending all of spring semester grueling over every job posting website and the Career Advancement Center’s blogs, you finally find the perfect summer internship. With the congratulatory acceptance email finally in your inbox, the last thing you want to worry about amidst the celebration is housing, class credit form completion, and city guidance. ACTIVATE helps you bypass this confusion and frustration so you can spend more time at your dream internship and more confidently navigate professional and city life.
Prior to the summer, ACTIVATE ensures assists in the internship search and application process. With the vast amount of connections and networks available through the Career Advancement Center, there is no doubt that you’ll be able to find an internship to further your career interests. However, the real excitement begins on the first day of ACTIVATE when you move into the Flats at East West University for the summer. With a different concert, food festival, or neighborhood event every weekend, living in the heart of downtown Chicago is an endless adventure.
As I’ve mentioned before, every Thursday ACTIVATE participants join our LFC Internship Coordinator and In the Loop Resident Director for a weekly seminar. Throughout the summer, these seminars have taken us on a tour of Wrigley Field, to a glass blowing class, a technology pitch night and a sustainable urban farm. While my internship has certainly kept me busy, ACTIVATE has opened my eyes to a wide range of professional fields and careers, and has provided me with the opportunity to give back to the city of Chicago (all while receiving class and volunteer credit.)
ACTIVATE is different because you feel a part of the city of Chicago; you live in the heart of it, learn from it and give back to it.
August 16, 2017
As a participant from the first ever ACTIVATE group this past summer, I compiled some helpful tips and things I learned from the past 10 weeks to help anyone make the most of their ACTIVATE summer!
Keep An Open Mind (You knew this was coming)
Maybe you’re like me and coming from the west coast to a bustling city like Chicago can sometimes be overwhelming, or maybe you’ve lived here your whole life and know the city like the back of your hand. Regardless of where you’re coming from, there’s always new things to learn from Chicago and different memories to be made.
Chicago summers are transformative. With the sun shining, people flooding to the beaches, restaurants opening their patios, and a new festival setting up their booths every weekend. The summer in Chicago is a great time to try something you’ve never done, like going 45+ miles per hour on the Seadog off of Navy Pier, or experiencing a new culture without getting on a plane by visiting one of the many different neighborhoods around the city.
Your Internship: No matter if your internship is the one of your dreams or in an industry that you’re just trying out, keep an open mind going into the position. There may be days that don’t live up to your expectations and you’ll have to organize some files or send out a mass email. Take this as an opportunity to really think about what you want to get out of the internship and write down some goals you hope to accomplish and some tasks you hope to complete. Your supervisor will be happy to see your passion and will most likely help you achieve everything that’s on your list.
Embrace the CTA
Coming from Las Vegas, Nevada where there is essentially no quality public transportation, the CTA seemed like a gift that would allow me to not have to drive my car everywhere. Depending on where your internship is, you’ll likely either take a bus or a train of where there are many lines within walking distance of the Flats. Different apps can help you to find the most efficient line and checking a map of the city’s different train lines can help you make sense of the different directions you can go. Public transportation has gotten a bad reputation over time, but the CTA will almost always be your greatest ally. However, sometimes it can betray you and become your worst enemy. There are times when the train will be exceptionally late or the bus will just somehow never come. But, that’s why there’s Uber and Lyft if you really need to get somewhere! Ride sharing is a great resource but try not to rely on it too much to get around.
There’s A Neighborhood for That!
Feeling like learning something new or getting a world class view of the Chicago skyline? Go south to Hyde Park to explore the Museum of Science and Industry and stop by Promontory Point. Visit Pilsen when you’re craving carnitas or want to photograph some beautiful and vibrant murals. Take time to eat your way through Chinatown or enjoy nature without leaving the city at the Garfield Park Conservatory. Whatever you’re looking to do, there’s definitely a Chicago neighborhood for it!
Overall, my summer as part of ACTIVATE was an absolute blast. While I now definitely feel like I could pass as a “Chicagoan,” I can’t wait to get back to the Forest.