Tuesday, January 20, 2015

Summer Internship in Chicago – the best there is!

Reading through my fellow Fulbrighters’ posts, I noticed the following testimony repeated: “The Fulbright experience is the best thing ever happened to me.” I second that! In fact, my experience has been three times more enriching and three times more transformational. Because it wasn’t only a transformational experience for me, but also for my wife Ameera and our now four-year old daughter Jude.

I will spare you the trouble of reading about all of the road trips we did, the beautiful places we explored, the various events we celebrated, the great people we met, and the 100,000 pictures we took along the way. Today, I will talk about my summer internship as a Gallup Client Development Intern in downtown Chicago – the best there is. 

Gallup is well known for the Gallup Poll which was founded by George Gallup in 1935 and was the first science-based company to read the American opinion. In 2005, when speculations in Washington were around the Arab and Muslim World hating the West for their freedom, Gallup established the Gallup World Poll, which concluded that the large majority of Arabs and Muslims actually respected the West for their freedom. The World Poll now covers 160 countries representing 98% of the world adult population and reading major issues facing societies and individual well-being.

Although I did not work with the Gallup World Poll, it was a priceless experience to be part of such prestigious organization. I worked along a team of 12 smart interns in the strategic consulting department, and my work revolved around building a Southeast Asia market strategy and helping a major bank in the U.S. understand competitive banking studies. 

The internship experience was more than I wished for. During a 10-week transformational journey, we had the opportunity to interact with Gallup scientists, practice leaders, and partners. The Chairman of Gallup, Mr. Jim Clifton traveled to meet us in person twice! In this picture, I am making my final presentation in front of Mr. Clifton, and the presentation was being broadcasted to the rest of the Gallup offices. 

Besides the actual internship, living during a Chicago upbeat summer was an engaging experience. Waking up to the sound of the train tracks, riding the brown line down to the loop, getting my daily coffee and donuts from Dunkin, and walking west to my office on the 47th floor on South Wacker will always be engraved in my memory. In Chicago, I experienced a once in a lifetime, “Pizza Tour!” and we got to learn the history of deep dish pizza in Chicago and got to visit the best Pizzerias and taste each of their specialty pizzas. By far, the best pizza I tasted is the tomato basil deep dish in Piziano’s. 

The summer in Chicago was very special in that every weekend, there was at least one street festival that was associated with a neighborhood or ethnic group. I attended several; I recall in the Taste of Greek festival I made a major discovery. I tried the Greek Honey Puffs. These resemble the Lukaimat that we have; except that instead of using honey, we use date syrup. I also found that this very dish resembles the American Funnel Cake (they look different but seem to have the same recipe), and use ice cream instead. Finally, I found that Italy also has something that resembles this meal, but they use hot chocolate. Look, we share so much in common! 

Mohamed Ebrahim is an FY13 Bahraini Fulbrighter who is pursuing an MBA at University of Illinois-Urbana Champaign.

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