An Average Day: Learning & Enlightenment

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.