Day # 01
Submitted by: Ashley Wort
January 31, 2008
We arrived in Chicago last night (January 30) at 11:00 p.m. and checked into our hotel. We are staying at the Buckingham Athletic Club in downtown Chicago, and the rooms are amazing. We even have our own private elevator to get up to the 40th floor where our rooms are.
This morning we had to be at LaSalle Bank at 10:00. Peg Laughlin and her co-worker, Brady, entertained us; and we discussed the importance of commercial lending and the various components to consider when determining whether or not to loan money to a prospective or existing customer. We also were given a case history, which we broke up into groups to analyze. The case was about a company that wanted to borrow money and had sent us its financial statements and letters of recommendations from its audit firm. One group was the banker, and the other group was the loan committee; and we had to persuade the loan committee that the loan to the customer was a good decision on the part of the bank. We then took a break for lunch and watched a “60 Minutes” clip regarding Bill Stoecker and how he fraudulently borrowed money from banks to pay back other banks. After the video we said our thank yous and headed to Sonnenschein, Nath, and Rosenthal Law Firm.
At Sonnenschein, Nath, and Rosenthal, we were introduced to Linda Chaplik Harris and Michael Rosenthal, both of whom are partners at the firm. The session at Sonnenschein regarded the importance of negotiation and how important negotiation is when it comes to being a good businessperson. We started the agenda at the law firm with a PowerPoint presentation that discussed the negotiation process. After the presentation was concluded, we were split up into groups and given a case to consider that involved an entrepreneur with a patent and a venture capitalist who was going to fund the new idea. The basic premise was to negotiate between the two people and determine who was going to get what in the corporation and how we were going to work it out to make everyone satisfied in the end. Everyone had a really good time with this exercise, and it was amazing to see how different people came up with points to negotiate which were of the most importance to them. We concluded our evening at ESPN Zone, which is a restaurant/arcade room.
Tomorrow morning we are going to go to Grant Thornton to learn about accounting and then in the afternoon we are going to hear about Charles Industries and how to market a new product. Tomorrow should be a lot of fun as well, and we are all looking forward to it.
Day # 02
Submitted by: Ashley Wort
February 1, 2008
This morning was an early one. We had to be ready to go at 8:00 a.m. so we could load our luggage on a van and have it taken to the train station. I do not know if any of you heard, but it snowed anywhere from 6-8 inches in Chicago, and it was COLD! The walk, although short to Grant Thornton, proved to be a very cold one; and the melted snow on the roads made it awful to walk, especially for the girls with heels. However, even though it was awfully treacherous outside, the day at Grant Thornton was a true learning experience for everyone.
After arriving at Grant Thornton, we all grabbed some breakfast that was provided and listened to two employees at the CPA firm who gave presentations. The first gentleman, named Ryan, worked in the audit department and gave a brief summary of what an audit entails and how it is conducted. The second presenter, named Mike, worked in the tax department and gave a general outline to what his job was and how you advance from compliance to consulting within the tax department. After listening to the presentations and answering questions, we moved forward with an exercise. We all split up into groups of four or five and we were basically the audit team. We were given a check register and both a balance sheet and income statement and we had to not only fill in the missing information, but also had to look at the given information and correct it because it was wrong and misleading. We were given about 20 minutes to do this and then we all got back into one big group and discussed what we had changed and why. After the exercise, we were served lunch and then were given the privilege to ask questions of the younger employees at the firm about anything we wanted. Overall, the experience at Grant Thornton was remarkable, and I know we all learned a lot from both Mike and Ryan.
For our final session in Chicago, we stayed at Grant Thornton but were given the opportunity to speak to J.T. Charles, who is Joe Charles’ son. J.T presented on both Charles Industries and marketing and the importance of marketing in a business. He made important points such as listening to the customers’ needs and wants, and also all the things that need to be considered when marketing a product such as competition, price, product, promotion, and place. After the presentation, we split up into groups and had to market a new product, SwillCo, to Joe Charles. We had to take into consideration everything J.T had spoken about and also come up with catchy phrases and marketing names. I think the hardest thing about this exercise, however, was we only had 45 minutes to do it and so it was really kind of stressful. However, the stressfulness of the situation made us all realize how important marketing really is to a business. It was a really good time, and we had a lot of laughs come out of it.
After our sessions at Grant Thornton, we headed to Union Station to catch our train at 5:55 p.m. The trip home lasted a little over four hours, but I think every one slept at least a little bit on the train.
Overall, this corporate experience was great. The general and business knowledge we gained from this trip was astronomical and I would definitely recommend this trip to anyone majoring in business. On behalf of the group, I would like to once again thank Joe Charles for his contribution to this learning experience and also would like to thank all of our presenters at the different companies.
Day # 03
Submitted by: Emily Johnston
After returning from Chicago, I would like to say that this experience is very imperative for several different reasons, such as, the great networking opportunities, knowledge of a very knowledgeable alumni, and opportunity to interact with business professionals. I believe that the best part of the trip is the amount of knowledge I gained from Joe Charles. He allowed us to ask any questions that would be essential for the students to advance to the next level of knowledge of the business world. Not only did Mr. Charles provide the funding for this trip, but he also graciously went to each business location with us and provided valuable input to each presentation.
Another exciting experience on the trip was the interactive presentations, including the great presentation on marketing presented by J.T. Charles. After J.T.’s presentation the students were broken up into groups in which we planned a marketing campaign for a fictional product to advance in the Chicago Apprentice. My team of course had a great presentation along with all of the other groups that presented. Mr. Joe Charles and his son J.T. both gave input on the result and improvements that could be made on the presentations.
The Corporate Experience Trip to Chicago was altogether amazing and, hopefully, will continue to be a great experience for all business students in the future.