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Opportunity All Year Round

One of the most helpful features of being a Chicago Scholar is that the support and guidance doesn’t end when the school year does. Oh no, CS doesn’t close its doors and stop sending out emails when summer vacation hits. The CS staff are always at work — in fact, the staff work becomes twice as hard during the summer.

Not every scholar has a set plan going into their summer, but that doesn’t mean they plan on devoting their time to relaxing on the couch from the end of May to September. That was the case for me. At the tail end of my senior year of high school, I knew I wanted to get a job or internship so I could have some money going into college and pay for my books. The only problem was that I had so much focus on my college decision and other conflicts I had at home, I put my summer plans on the back burner.

Year 1 Scholars meet every month, and in February, the host gave us the normal dose of events and opportunities that CS Alumni are involved in. They included an opportunity to be a summer intern for the Chicago Transit Authority (CTA). I have been familiar with the CTA for all of my life; I’ve ridden the buses and trains for years, and some of my family members are bus and train operators. I jumped on the opportunity and sent in my resume. A month and a half later, I accepted their job offer and got ready to do my onboarding as an official CTA summer intern.

As a summer intern, my job was to work through virtual and in-person sessions at Olive Harvey College. I participated in professional development workshops both on campus and Zoom and completed self-guided work assigned by Accenture Chicago. It was great collaborating with cohort members from other high schools around Chicagoland to produce a capstone project about mental and physical wellness within the CTA.

My main takeaway from this experience was how much I learned about the CTA as a whole. I was aware of the different bus and train lines, but not how far they go. I really enjoyed learning more about the different neighborhoods and communities that have made the train lines part of their urban culture. For example, White Sox-35th is the Red Line stop where people get off to go see the White Sox play at Guaranteed Rate Field. On a line that I’d ridden countless times, I had no idea how central it was to the neighborhood.

CS helps Scholars plan out their summer plans, whether that be a job or another means of college preparation. Before I wrote this article, I received a call from a representative in the Leadership Development Team about an internship opportunity. Although I have an internship already setup for myself, the connection still remains on the table if my plans change. CS keeps the door of opportunity open all year round.