The hour-long commute from my apartment in Evanston to the Leo Burnett building is often a cold and sleepy one. I have never been a morning person, and over the past year I became accustomed to an easy five-minute walk to my internship at Creative Coworking. I’ve had to make changes to my routine, like going to sleep and waking up extra early, and planning what I’m going to wear and what I want to cook days in advance. At the end of my ten-week internship, I will have spent over 100 hours traveling to and from work on the el. Working in the loop is an amazing experience, but it takes careful planning to truly make the most of your time!
Transportation. If you are lucky enough to have a car or a place to stay in the city, your transportation experience will be infinitely simpler. Lots of Chicagoans walk or bike to work to save gas and money, especially since it’s so nice out in the summer. But for those of you, like me, who are coming all the way down from Evanston, you have a few options.
The first is the purple line express el train. During the week, the express train runs to the loop early in the morning and right after work. The express will get you downtown in about fifty minutes, and each ride will only cost you $2.25. Depending on how much you plan to use public transport (a CTA fare card also works on many city buses), there are deals for month-long passes and reloadable cards. Just make sure to calculate what the best deal will be for your situation – it ended up being cheaper for me to pay for each fare individually as opposed to getting a monthly pass.
Another option is the Metra. The ride from the Evanston Davis stop to Ogilvie in the loop takes about forty-five minutes and costs $4.25, though you may need to walk a bit further to get to your destination. For me, the best and most convenient deal for the Metra was a ten-ride pass.
Food. After working an eight-hour day (which ends up being more like ten hours if you include my travel time), the last thing I feel like doing when I get home is cooking dinner and making the next day’s lunch. But buying meals can get expensive, and a girl can only handle so much Easy Mac. My advice is to make Sundays your cooking days.
Plan a few simple dishes (like veggie chicken stir fry, or a pasta skillet) and buy enough ingredients to have several days’ worth of leftovers. I usually prepare a main entrée and pack fruit, crackers, or other snacks as a side in a bunch of Tupperware containers. That way, all I have to do is pop the meal in the microwave for dinner or mix and match an entrée and a side for the next day’s lunch!
Planning meals this way usually saves enough money that I can spend more on the ingredients – I try to purchase all my produce from farmer’s markets, like the Saturday morning market in Evanston and the Thursday morning market at Daley Plaza in the loop!
Recreation. My favorite part of being in Chicago is that there is always, always something fun going on. Since you’ve already spent the travel time and money to get to the loop, you might as well take advantage of all the great events and museums the city has to offer! Last week, I saw a Tuesday night film screening at Millennium Park, I watched the Wednesday night fireworks from the top of the ferris wheel at Navy Pier, and I stopped by North Avenue Beach for the Air and Water Show over the weekend. This Thursday I’m planning to go to Adler After Dark, a cocktail hour at the Adler Planetarium! Events like these are happening every week, and many of them are completely free to the general public.
Internships are a wonderful opportunity for learning and enrichment. During my time at LiquidThread, I have acquired industry knowledge, vocabulary, and experience and made lasting connections with my fantastic and friendly coworkers. But this summer, many of my favorite discoveries and memories happened outside the office, too. My summer would not have been the same had I spent it anywhere but the wonderful city of Chicago.
Margaux Pepper is a rising senior RTVF major at Northwestern and is currently interning at LiquidThread in Chicago, IL.