J1 Spotlight: Scholarship Winner Louise On Her Dream J1 In Chicago

When we start thinking of our favourite US cities, Chicago is almost always well up the rankings and for good reason! A sports mad city, complete with a beach and brimming with good vibes including Lollapalooza, it’s no wonder our Gordon Colleary J1 Scholarship winner in 2016, Louise Kelly decided it was the destination for her.

Chicago is set to have a hugely popular year for J1 students in 2017, especially with summer job prospects having been better than pretty much anywhere else!

Enough about that, back to Louise, filling us in on her dream J1 in the Windy City…

Why Choose Chicago?

I cannot recommend Chicago enough. This bustling city has so much to offer-beaches on the doorstep of the city, fantastic nightlife, concerts, museums, festivals and so much more!

I picked Chicago as my J1 destination for many reasons, but mainly because my brother J1’d there in the summer of 2014 and would not stop raving about it. I had to see what all this fuss was about, and thankfully because of it’s popularity amongst J1ers, four of my close friends decided to come along!

How Did You Find Getting A Job In Chicago?

As Chicago is one of the biggest cities in the US, there are plenty of opportunities to find work. Most of the J1ers I spoke to had jobs in restaurants on Navy Pier, Irish Bars or catering companies.

I would recommend you get your job ASAP, as this is one of the most difficult parts of the whole J1 process. Once you have your job the rest is a breeze! USIT’s website regularly updates with job opportunities available via Skype interviews, and I would recommend you check this regularly to sign up for any interviews in Chicago.

I also heard they are having a special Hiring Fair in February just for jobs in Chicago which could save a lot of stress!

How Did You Sort Your Accommodation?

So this was perhaps the hardest, and most stressful part of our J1 organisation. There is high demand for accommodation in Chicago, and it is also very expensive.

I would recommend you start looking for accommodation now. The Wrigleyville, Lakeview and Armitage areas were the most J1 populated areas. In Chicago there is a very good transportation system, with the red, brown and blue line being the main means of transport. Once you are situated close to a station you can get absolutely anywhere.

Chicago Nightlife And Things To Do

Once you are 21, you can go anywhere that takes your fancy. Nights out were organised through a Facebook Chicago J1 page, which meant that you could guarantee all the Irish would be together!! Every night there was a different place to go, from Karaoke on a Monday to the infamous Kincades on a Wednesday. I can assure you, you will not be bored!

I have so many amazing memories from my J1 summer (including randomly bumping into Drake on the street!). The one which stands out the most would have to be the 4 days I attended the 25th anniversary of Lollapalooza. Grant park played host to the festivities, which is located downtown, sporting skyscrapers left and right. With headline acts including Radiohead, Red Hot Chilli Peppers, Disclosure, Lana Del Ray, J Cole and Ellie Goulding you literally couldn’t go wrong!

It is impossible to describe everything which makes Chicago one of the top J1 destinations, but I hope you can see from this short piece how fantastic this city really is and why you should consider Chicago as your 2017 J1 destination!!!

We’re now accepting nominations for the 2017 Gordon Colleary J1 Scholarship. Do you know a student who deserves their dream summer in the US? Nominate them here before 18th April 2017!


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