Outside of my internships, I had the opportunity to participate in the Think Chicago program in Chicago! It was three days of keynote speakers, company tours, and a civic tech challenge. As a bonus for participating in the program, I also got to attend Lollapalooza in Grant Park. The first day was an introduction to the program, and a keynote message from Mayor Rahm Emanuel. Since the program’s main purpose was to show college students why they should come to Chicago post-grad, Mayor Emanuel made sure to highlight how Chicago was #1 in a vast array of categories: quality of life, cost of living, best restaurants, etc. When it came time for the audience to ask him questions, we all seemed concerned about how we can help Chicago, specifically the south and west sides, and improve others quality of life. He didn’t really respond directly to these questions and instead explained how Chicago is already well on its way without the help of tech companies or their employees. I think it’s a reasonable concern to wonder about the lives of those on the other side of town, especially if schools are closing, violence is increasing, and gentrification is moving people out. In many ways, the program made me think of my Cribspot internship as the company enters the Chicago rental market. I’m sure homes will mostly be within the Loop and business districts to attract students and young professionals. By attending Think Chicago, it made me think further about the social responsibility companies have in their communities. So although you may have a higher-income bracket as customers, is it possible to also serve lower-incomes in the neighborhood?
While I was in Chicago I decided to do some work for my Distinct Life internship as well. I am really interested in men’s fashion, and toured around the Wicker Park neighborhood of Chicago and feature different stores. I stopped by Fat Tiger Workshop, Mildblend Supply Co., Iridium Clothing, St. Alfred’s, and RSVP Gallery. Before I took any pictures, I introduced myself to the owner or manager, explained why I was there, and that I was with Rick and Yolanda Williams’ Distinct Life out of Detroit. Almost everyone I spoke to knew Rick and Yolanda and held them in a high regard. It was really cool seeing my bosses being held in such a high regard made me even more excited to be a part of Distinct. As I was taking pictures and interviewing, I wanted to exceed my own expectations for the features.
My Chicago trip helped me gain perspective and momentum as I came back to my internships.