Tips ‘n’ tricks are based on experiences of previous PFP fellow participants and are intended for those of them that will go to Chicago and Washington DC. Things might change for new cohorts so please take them just as guidelines of something previous fellow participants found useful while staying in Chicago and Washington DC.
How to present yourself?
On many occasions, you will be asked to present yourself. It is useful to practice this before coming to USA. It should be short, precise and you should define your goals and opportunities. The more people know what you want and what you can deliver, the more chances you have to connect to right people.
How to find useful people to contact?
Direct contacts and direct talks are the best. Besides, numerous sites can be useful. Start with:
- www.meetup.com - info about free and paid meetups, workshops, etc.,
- www.eventbrite.com - info about free and paid meetups, workshops, etc.,
- www.shapr.co - Tinder for Business connections
How to attract business people in Chicago?
In USA you will have limited time for business, use it wisely. We recommend contacting as many people, mentors, entrepreneurs as you can. In addition, if you can, organize a (free) workshop on a topic you are expert in. By doing this, you are attracting people that need knowledge of expertise you are good at and you are presenting yourself in best light. People that come to these workshops will learn something and this is to their benefit. To put a workshop in popular co-working spaces, usually you have to apply for it at least two months earlier.
How open are people to sharing ideas?
People are very open to sharing ideas and helping you achieve your goals. Ask, be specific and stay open to new ideas and new directions it may take you.
What to expect from your mentors?
Your mentors will help you achieve goals you set for yourself. They will help you, but they will not do the work instead of you. In addition, Chicago and Washington offer so much, try to connect with people outside the company you are assigned to and workplace you are in. Small gift is nice gesture, so pack something for them.
What to expect from homestays?
Homestays are great people, all gender, races and ages. Almost all fellow participants had a great experience with their homestays and stayed in touch after leaving Chicago. They are expected to provide you a place to stay and a fridge full of food. Many of them will cook for you, show you the city, take you out, etc.
What will your homestays expect from you?
They expect from you to treat them nicely and spend some time with them. Treat them as you would treat a relative you like. It is a nice gesture to bring them some present form your country. Bear in mind that there is a (Croatian) ethnical shop in Chicago so some of our products are available in Chicago. Be creative.
What if I have doubts about how good match are my mentor/homestay and me?
If you have doubts about your mentor or homestay, talk to people in WorldChicago as soon as possible. They have a lot of experience in mentor and homestay matchmaking so they will help you adjust to existing situation, give you valuable advice or find you a new mentor/homestay. Do not wait too long because your time in the USA is very limited.
What activities are organized for fellows?
In Chicago, you will spend one Saturday volunteering. It could be something like helping school organize an event or participate in a high school debate, etc. It is a nice opportunity to spend time with local people.
One evening you will spend in a venue at a dinner organized by the WorldChicago to raise funds for Professional Fellows Program. Each country is expected to animate guests with some fun activities. Bring several small prizes for participants. Local candies, alcohol or souvenirs are good direction to think about when thinking about prizes. Also prepare photos of your country (on laptop) because you will represent not only yourself but the country you are come from.
What do we need to do while in Chicago?
While in Chicago you have to make connections, spend time with fellow participants and local people and have fun. Everything else is optional 🙂 You will have to write weekly reports in which you should state what you did in the past week. Also, your whole group will have to make a small movie about your time in Chicago (not longer than 3 minutes) about official and unofficial stuff. So, when you record things you do in Chicago, make sure that you keep your mobile in landscape mode and try to record videos as much as you can.
What apps (sites) are useful while visiting Chicago?
Many aps are useful; we will give you just few of them:
- CTA – public transportation,
- Uber – transportation,
- Lyft – transportation,
- chicagoreader.com – nightlife.
Also, on Google maps make maps of Chicago and Washington DC available offline.
How safe is Chicago?
Chicago is a city that has almost 10 millions of people with the surrounding area. Cities this size have their challenges. A big part of the city is safe as any part of the world. There are some areas of the city that are challenging. Stick with the “safe” parts of the city and you will be all right.
What to visit?
Although Chicago and Washington DC have many sights, try to visit at least one more city. If you look for airplane tickets two or three months before coming to USA, you can get good offers for flights like Chicago – New York or Chicago – Las Vegas. Bear in mind that you will have one, maximum two weekends free for trips like this and you have to contact World Chicago and ask them for permission for the dates you plan to do trips like this.
If you like live music, check out places like Blue Chicago, House of Blues and Green Mill.
What clothes to bring?
We needed formal clothes for only two events, everything else can be covered with business casual. Do not carry too much clothes to the USA, chances are, you will bring more back. Carry different clothes to Chicago because the weather can be very different.
How much money should I bring?
You will get per diem (about 35$ per day). It will be enough to cover your expenses. If you wish to buy clothes, go out, travel etc. you will need additional money.
Should I take additional travel health insurance?
This is up to you. You will have health insurance in the USA but only for emergency situations. We recommend you do things like dentist in your home country before leaving. Also, bring painkillers, vitamins or other stuff you think that can be handy.
Should I buy SIM card for my phone in USA?
There is a possibility to buy SIM card for your phone while you are in the USA. It can be useful because of mobile data packages. It is around 50$ per month, so, check with your local operator before leaving to USA do they have better packages for the USA. Some US SIM cards support only newer phones.
Where to eat?
Chicago offers a lot, especially when you wish to eat. Explore, allow yourself to find something new. There are many nice places, even those budget friendly. We recommend places like Chicago French Market at N Canal Street. Chicago is famous for The Deep dish pizza so make sure you try it. Good “starting point” is Giordanno's. Also, try to visit interesting places like Grand Lux Cafe. For people that will be located in Evanston, try local pancakes in Walker Bros or The Original pancake House.
Where to buy souvenirs?
Many shops can be found on the Magnificent mile. Although they offer vast variety of items, if you need something more budget friendly, you should visit something bit out of the Loop (center of town). We recommend places like Dollar Land.
Where to buy electronics?
Electronics and some other stuff are cheaper in the USA than in SE Europe. If you decide to buy something more expensive online, you should think about asking them to deliver to the hotel you’ll be placed in Washington DC because District of Columbia has lower tax than the State of Illinois. As far as shops, we recommend
How to spend time in Washington DC?
Washington DC offers a lot of sights and free Smithsonian’s museums. Although time in Washington DC is very limited, you will have some time to visit the city and museums. Plan ahead.