Working in Chicago
This summer, I spent ten weeks at UScellular, where I was able to work and live in Downtown Chicago, Illinois. I was a Marketing Strategy intern, and this experience will stick with me as I take my first career steps. The summer between your junior and senior year is a great time for an internship; I felt that this summer gave me new tools and a lens I would not have had without the internship experience.
Finding an Internship
In the fall of my junior year, I started applying for internships by submitting applications to many companies in the Chicagoland area via LinkedIn. LinkedIn was a great place to apply for internships, and I created a spreadsheet to keep the applications organized. After applying, I heard from a recruiter at UScellular to set up a time for a preliminary interview. This interview covered my relevant experience and my fit within the team. From there, I received a second interview to discuss more about my fit in the company. Following the second interview, I heard from the original recruiter that I was offered the position and had 48 hours to decide my course of action.
Throughout my summer, I had two main goals. The first was to participate in everything possible and make the most of my location and job in Chicago; try new food, see astounding sights, and enjoy unique experiences. I would go out and try a new restaurant in the area everyday. The first day of my internship, I remember I went to the nearest cafe, and had the classic Chicago style hot dog. Lunch at the cafe became a tradition with the other interns, and a staple food in the office. Our office was close enough to anything I could’ve ever needed – a perfect location that made going to work another small adventure.
Make Lasting Connections
The second goal was to meet everyone I could, meaning I would try and meet all of the people in my office and see how high up the corporate ladder I could make connections. Being typically extroverted, I found myself naturally inclined to have conversations with people outside of my immediate work bubble. Working cross-departmentally comes with some perks, too!
By meeting people beyond my immediate team, I understood how important and expansive the corporate structure was. The workflow was crucial at our company, and having the right hands on the right projects was necessary to accomplish work within a timetable.
The company offered networking experiences that allowed me to network with upper management and the executive team. From the management team, I learned that everyone has expertise and value in their field, and we should trust them to do that work well. I had a chance to meet the Chief Marketing Officer and ask him how it was possible to have such a well-oiled machine! He let me know just how important everyone was in their individual roles and how a manager needs to be on a first-name basis with all of their employees.
Meeting the CEO
In my final week, I had the privilege of having lunch with the CEO – and pick his brain as much as possible. The CEO, L.T. Therivel, is someone who leads with strength and compassion. L.T. was on Undercover Boss and Thirty Minute Mentor’s recently – both of which I had watched/listened to before meeting. Sitting down with the CEO to better understand the company and its functions was something that shaped my summer. Because I had spent 9+ weeks already working, I found myself slipping right into conversations about the culture and work environment.
My two goals kept me entertained and motivated me to do the best work that I could for UScellular. This role brought me conversations with people currently doing my “dream job,” and I was able to ask them directly about their work. My time in Chicago and at UScellular was invaluable, and I will keep these connections well into my career.