Week 5 – It’s all go, go go!
Monday morning I sat in on the ‘Managers Meeting’ and was tasked with writing up the minutes for the meeting, that I then type up and send around to all staff within the Consulate – so I was very attentive to note all of the details down in full! A lot of issues were covered during the meeting this week – with a new CG there is lots going on – such as diplomatic and ministerial visits, new ideas and initiatives and learning and development opportunities. Additionally, the new CG announced that he wants to introduce a new format for ‘town hall’ meetings (meetings that all staff members are required to attend once every 2 weeks); each town hall is now to begin with one member of staff speaking on an issue relevant to the work they are undertaking. The CG’s thinking behind this is to encourage greater understanding and collaboration between the various teams within the Consulate. To my surprise, he asked if I could be the first speaker at next week’s town hall! It is, of course, a great opportunity, but I am very nervous!
I spent the rest of the day conducting research into specific community and welfare organisations in Chicago. There is a senior UK ministerial visit to Chicago coming up in a few weeks’ time, and the minister in question will be meeting with these organisations, so it is important he is briefed on each of them in advance.
On Monday evening, the Consulate held a reception for Rob Bishop – a software engineer for Raspberry Pi, who had been in Chicago a few weeks ago and returned to Chicago to attend the reception, before heading back to the UK. I volunteered to greet incoming guests, which is actually a good way of meeting everyone properly and welcoming them to the event. The event was very well received, although several of the guests did not understand my instructions upon telling them to make their way to the 61st floor – apparently it is usually called floor 61 over here!
Tuesday and Wednesday I researched Welfare Reform in the state of Wisconsin and put together a longish brief on the most important changes and developments within the last 10 years. Again, this will form a part of the aforementioned ministerial programme.
Tuesday, I was lucky enough to meet Catherine Lemon and Andrea Edwards, who work for the International Development Department at the University of Birmingham (UoB). They had set up a meeting at the Consulate to discuss potential university partnerships and internships in Chicago, as part of a wider US trip to establish relationships between UoB and Midwestern institutions. It was great to see how opportunities (such as the internship I am currently undertaking) come about through the efforts made by staff such as Catherine and Andrea. It was also a good opportunity to give them an update on how I am getting on at the Consulate.
I dedicated most of the day on Thursday, to making preliminary phone calls to community youth organisations in the City of Chicago. The Deputy CG has tasked me with preparing a 2-day programme of meetings for a UK delegation that is coming over to Chicago. The delegation is from Premier Skills, a charitable organisation that aims to foster community interaction through football and increase aspirations within underserved communities. Premier Skills are hoping to launch the initiative in the US. Often, calls such as these involve speaking to several different people within an organisation before reaching the person that you wish to speak to and so has required a significant time commitment!
On Friday, I sat in on a telephone conference regarding the upcoming ministerial visit and spent the afternoon updating the visit programme. This is pretty fiddly work, but it was great practice for when I put the Premier Skills visit programme together next week; the fine details really are of great importance! A long alfresco lunch and a 3pm finish then rounded off the week perfectly, and so began the long weekend!
The Labor Day weekend was jam packed with brunches, barbeques and pool side lounging. Needless to say, I am now well rested and I very much look forward to continuing to work hard during my last week here in Chicago!