Learning the business of business with LU connections in Chicago

By Alba Van Vliet

Leaving early on the morning of Thursday, Oct. 22 during reading period, a number of Lawrence students traveled to Chicago for the Lawrence Scholars in Business trip. This is an annual opportunity for students to connect with alumni and learn more about a career in the world of business.

The students visited a variety of companies during this overnight trip. The Lawrence alumni gave a tour through the offices, explained how they got their job, gave career advice and answered numerous questions by students.

Freshman Alfiza Urmanova said that Allstate Insurance was her favorite company. “I have never realized that an insurance company can offer such a variety of job opportunities,” she said. “It was interesting to listen to people with an experience of 30 years in the insurance industry.”

A less traditional company that was visited was 1871 and the Startup Institute. “It was really amazing to meet students of the startup institute, and overall get some insight into the growing startup scene in Chicago,” said junior Abedin Rafique. “Startups can be great employment options for liberal arts grads, but unfortunately it is often overlooked at Lawrence.”

On Thursday evening there was a dinner for the current Lawrence students and some alumni. While enjoying the food, the students and alumni got to know each other. Alumni reminisced about their time at Lawrence and shared some of their career or general life advice. For sophomore Tamanna Akram, the dinner was her favorite part of the trip. She found that the informal setting of the dinner sparked a good variety of conversations. During the trip the importance of using the Lawrence alumni network as an advantage was stressed.

This was Rafique’s second time on the trip. “This year was less visits, but I felt that we were able to meet more younger professionals/alums, and I personally liked that. It is easier to connect with younger alums and relate to their experiences,” he said.

Most of the students joining the trip were international students. Some students are of the opinion that this is a thing Lawrence should take into account more when deciding on which businesses to visit. “My least favorite part was the aversion of companies to hire international students. International students are identical to domestic students when being hired as an intern; it’s only an issue for full time positions. Still, since such a large number of internationals participate in the trip every year, Lawrence should make more effort to identify international friendly companies,” Rafique said.

Overall the trip was successful. The students we spoke to all enjoyed the trip and found it very informative. Urmanova said she definitely feels more prepared for a possible career or an internship in the business world. “I had an opportunity to make great connections and listen to wonderful advice our alumni gave us.”