Today was a day filled with learning and enlightenment, encapsulated by two events that got me out of the home office and back to downtown Chicago.
The Morning. A prominent online career company and prominent online educational institution hosted a career fair at a prominent downtown hotel. I’ve never attended a career event of this type for a key reason: Decision-makers in the public relations arena more than likely find talent through networking or very specific job postings.
Most of the exhibiting companies offered banking, sales or security jobs; not my industry. But, a very, very prominent Chicago-based advertising agency was listed as an exhibitor, which intrigued me. And, the event was no-cost and an opportunity to network and learn.
Upon arrival, I encountered people of all types: Those in tailored suits who clearly had been successful in the business world, and those in denims and sweatshirts, those still searching for a career path. The mood was relatively upbeat, the organizers encouraging and supportive.
Learning the very, very prominent agency did not send representatives, I sat in on some eduction sessions. At one entitled, “Building a Wardrobe That Works,” the moderator, an image consultant, asked me to the front to comment on my ensemble: Navy sport coat, dark khaki slacks, brown loafers, blue shirt and red and blue tie with a simple pattern. “What kind of work do you do?” she asked. “I’m a public relations professional,” I answered. “You’re dressed very appropriately for an interview in that industry,” she remarked. I liked here immediately.
I felt proud, and somewhat relieved. Image is everything, to quote a popular campaign, and I’m glad my dress that day hit the mark. Learned one more important fact from this nice lady: Always wait until the interviewer invites you to sit down before sitting down. Makes sense.
The Afternoon. In my lifetime living in Chicago, I never stepped into the City Council chambers in City Hall. Today, I not only went inside, I got to speak!
The situation: I spoke before the Community Development Commission in favor of a local development company that bid on redeveloping a landmark manufacturing building in my Avondale/Logan Square neighborhood into apartments and an arts center. Other members of the community — from those involved with local business groups to artists — spoke in favor of the request by the developer.
The issue will be voted on my the full City Council some day, and hopefully our community will have a prominent — but vastly under-utilized building put to productive use.
This request was one of 10 key agenda items this afternoon. Champions for these other causes also had their respective turns at the microphone. I felt enlightened that the issue involving my community and nine others within Chicago generated so much passion and support. People took time out of their lives to spend a few hours making their voices heard.