Never in my wildest dreams would I have guessed the first week of my internship would include a trip to the windy city. Understand my first day of work was on a Tuesday and by Friday of that same week, I was in Chicago. That’s right, I went on my first official business trip, the first week of my internship (to a cool place might I add), and I actually had fun.
Now I’m not normally one to brag, but I deserve full bragging rights on this one. Get ready, it’s a lot to take in. How many first time interns get to say they took a trip to Chicago, attended their first NRA (National Restaurant Association) Show at McCormick Center, went indoor skydiving at iFLY, explored Navy Pier, rode Divvy bikes across the city, went restaurant hopping on the daily, and team built with awesome people? Probably not many. So to all my peers, keep on bragging about your morning coffee from Starbucks and walks in the park during lunch. I’ll keep bragging about foodjunky, because I can pretty much guarantee my first week blew yours out of the water.
Never A Dull Moment
Day 1: Travis, Megan and I were on the road bright and early. In route to Chicago we stopped for lunch in Chelsea Michigan at Chelsea Alehouse Brewery. We had a nice meal together before getting back on the road, where Megan and I promptly fell asleep. It didn’t take long for me to figure out that there is NEVER A DULL MOMENT with foodjunky – thus our nap was a good thing because everything after arrival to Chicago was beyond action packed.
We were fortunate enough to have Travis as our own personal tour guide while rolling into Chicago. He pointed out buildings and gave us lots of historical background on the city. Once we made it to the Chicago office I was introduced to the rest of the team. Everyone was kind and welcoming, it didn’t take more than five minutes for them to start cracking jokes and messing with me. Fitting in wouldn’t be an issue here and I’m glad I felt this way right off the bat. We all piled in our rental van for the week and headed out on a surprise adventure.
As if being in Chicago wasn’t already cool enough we pulled up and I hear everyone talking about where we were and what we were doing. We were about to go indoor skydiving. “INDOOR SKYDIVING.. is this forreal?” I thought. Stained on my brain in that moment were Johnny’s words “This is why I love my job.” Within no time at all we were sky high in the wind tunnel. With this came lots of laughs as none of us seemed to fully master the proper skydiving pose. You can check out the video below of Travis in the wind tunnel. I think it’s safe to say we all got a good laugh out of this one.
Day 2: I read that McCormick Center is the largest convention center in North America but being that I had never actually been there, I didn’t understand this until I was inside the building, on sensory overload, and drowning in a sea of booths. We arrived to McCormick center around 8 a.m. to get our badges and set up our booth at the NRA Show. It took all of five minutes to figure out that there were FREE SAMPLES OF EVERY FOOD UNDER THE SUN at this event. We were even fortunate enough to have former Masterchef contestant, Nick Nappi at the booth right across from us. Fresh steak and eggs for breakfast, prepared by a tv star? Yes please, don’t mind if I do.
I silently observed for most of the morning letting everyone else on the team talk to passersby, within no time at all I found myself talking to people, and the more people I spoke to, the easier it became. Travis even put me on the spot at one point, telling a potential client, “This is Carly, she can tell you a little more about foodjunky and what we do.” I was majorly caught off guard thinking “Oh come on man don’t do this to me” but I rose to the occasion and actually did a pretty good job if I must say so myself. We don’t grow when things are easy, we grow when we face challenges and Travis likes to challenge his team in a way that betters them.
The next part is my favorite, Divvying around Chicago. If I wasn’t already in love with Chicago, this is what won me over. Daron, Johnny, Travis, and I got Divvys and biked along the water, something I wouldn’t mind doing everyday. Words cannot express how awesome this was. I cannot think of a better way to take it all in than our bike ride that afternoon. We walked through Navy Pier and I was instantly drawn to the chaos of everything around me. The people, the food, the smells, the shops, everything, I was in love.
Day 3: Most of my morning was spent at the NRA show. I worked the booth with Megan, talking to potential clients and restaurants to onboard to our site. Admittedly, we would take turns manning the station while the other would sneak off, collecting as many food samples as possible to bring back to base.
Megan and I spent our afternoon Divvying to and walking around Navy Pier. This was followed by lunch and of course, ice cream, I love ice cream, especially Ben and Jerry’s Ice Cream. We strolled along walking and talking, eventually getting a ride back to our hotel.
We spent our evening having a beautiful rooftop dinner at Travis’ childhood home in the Gold Coast of Chicago. We then walked to Butch McGuire’s where we played games (both real and made up) and enjoyed each other’s company. There’s really no other way I would have wanted to spend my Sunday.
Day 4: I spent today shadowing some of my other teammates. I was able to see everything that goes on behind the scenes in a way I hadn’t seen in the Detroit office. The three computer coders for foodjunky are in the Chicago office so it was cool to see them do what they do and see how they have to coordinate with one another and work with our graphic designer, Daron, to make everything fall together.
After working my shift at the NRA show that afternoon, a couple of us found ourselves at the Coca-Cola booth for the best beverage known to man (and woman), ICEEs! We then made our way to Timmy O’tooles Pub so some of my team members could participate in an eating challenge. Lets just say, I walked into the Pub with $20 and essentially left with $200, thanks to Johnny. Check out our Bring on the Big Timmy blog post for more details and a good laugh.
Day 5: Today was officially the last day of the NRA Show. Once we wrapped up, I headed back home to Detroit. I think my train ride home was the first time I had actually sat down for more than ten seconds over the course of the past couple days. Although I was exhausted, I was filled with newfound excitement. Excitement that I had found a great internship for myself, one where I was actually looking forward to getting back to the office next week.
I cannot express how incredible my trip was, not only because it was Chicago, but because the people I was surrounded with, made it all the worthwhile. I’m so glad I was able to experience something like this, week one of my internship. I challenge anyone reading to share a better first week internship experience, but I really don’t think you can.