Summer in the Windy City: Key Learnings after Three Weeks

1. First and foremost, summer in Chicago is incredible. I always heard about the street festivals that occurred throughout the summer but I never experienced them (despite growing up four hours away). During my first weekend in Chicago, I attended Ribfest in North Center. From bacon wrapped pork on a stick, to fried onions, Oreos, bacon and Milky Ways, I felt like I was at a state fair. If you don’t believe me about the plethora of festivals in Chicago this summer, then check out this calendar!

2. Taking a historical pizza tour of Chicago is a real thing. During my first week at Gallup (more on that later), the interns took a Pizza Tour of Chicago on “Dough Force One,” which is one of the most creative names I’ve ever heard. It was amazing and after living in New York for two years, I can say that Chicago pizza is pretty incredible. My favorite: Pepperoni and Whipped Ricotta from Coalfire Pizza in the West Loop. Many Chicagoans are partial to the famous “deep dish” or “Chicago Style” pizza; however, I think thin crust beats deep dish any day. One of my favorite stories that we heard was when President Bill Clinton ordered Pizano’s Pizza on the tarmac at O’Hare after speaking at an event in Chicago. It was delivered to him on Air Force One by the owner of Pizano’s Pizza.

3. As a part of our pizza tour, we also learned a lot of history about the City of Chicago. One of the most interesting things they said was something I didn’t realize: Chicago is one of the most segregated cities in the country. Prior to learning this, I had always heard the most segregated city was Detroit. As a public policy grad student, this was of particular interest to me. I went looking for more information and came across the following maps from that depicts the segregation across different cities in the United States. Here is the Chicago map:

4. I am sure that most of you know Gallup, Inc. because of their polling prowess; however, if you thought I was conducting polls all day long, you are sorely mistaken. Gallup also has an incredible human capital consulting division that helps organizations grow their businesses and reach outcomes they didn’t realize were possible. When I was interviewing for this internship, I was pretty confused about why I had to take various online tests and complete different assessments. Six months later, it is all starting to make sense. Gallup’s philosophy is that they want their employees to do what they do best every day. As Gallup’s bestselling book, “First, Break All the Rules,” says, organizations too often focus on what needs to be fixed or employees’ weaknesses. For example, if my boss wanted me to sit at a desk all day crunching numbers and never talking to anyone at work, I would be miserable. Not only is it important to identify strengths in individuals but it is also important to keep those strengths in mind as a manager. People respond differently to different management styles. As Subhrendu taught us, we are all irrational. Gallup’s philosophy and consulting practice is founded on behavioral economics. For my data wonky friends at Sanford, can you think of an organization that has more data than Gallup? I’m not sure there is one that exists. Our managers work with us to utilize our strengths when we consult with our clients. My “Top Five” strengths are woo, communication, positivity, relator and includer. I know everyone at Sanford is super surprised that most of mine have to do with talking. Fun fact: there is a 1 in 30 million chance that you have the same “Top Five” strengths as someone else.

5. So what am I actually doing? Good question. I am working with one of Gallup’s healthcare clients to improve patient and clinical outcomes. This is right up my alley with my passion for healthcare and as the healthcare landscape is changing every day, the work we are doing with our clients is incredibly important and relevant. The people at Gallup are brilliant, motivated and passionate about Gallup’s mission to change the world.

6. People outside Duke don’t think it’s normal to be obsessed with Duke Basketball. I am certainly living in the land of the Big 10, where I grew up (Go Hawks) but I have to admit, I miss seeing Coach K driving through the Sanford parking lot! On a more timely note, best of luck to Jabari Parker and Rodney Hood this week in the draft!

7. Speaking of sports, the true rivalry here, especially in the summer, is Cubs vs White Sox. Historically, people from the north side of Chicago cheer for the Cubs and people from the south side of Chicago cheer for the White Sox. Notably, President Barack Obama is a White Sox fan. I haven’t chosen a side in this baseball battle because I grew up a Rockies fan (yes, I am aware my sports allegiances are very strange) but I am very excited to see some baseball this summer. On Saturday, I was able to attend a Cubs game with one of my best friends. Despite a 2 hour rain delay and a loss for the Cubbies, it was still a great night (how can you go wrong with cotton candy!?).


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1 Response to Summer in the Windy City: Key Learnings after Three Weeks

  1. Karen Kemp says:

    A great post, Jessica. It must be exciting working for a company that wants you to spend your day doing what you are best at.

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