Becoming a Chicago Scot

Madelaine Powell Intern, Chicago Scots
French & Politics, The University of Edinburgh

This Summer I have had the honour of interning at Chicago Scots as a Saltire Scholar. When first applying for the Saltire Scholar Program last October, I never could have imagined the opportunity to spend 10 weeks learning from Illinois’ longest-running non-profit organisation. I am extremely grateful to Entrepreneurial Scotland and the Saltire team for facilitating this experience and their ongoing support throughout both the application process and internship itself. Spending the Summertime in Chicago has been unforgettable and a city completely unique to anything I have experienced yet.

Any apprehensive over moving to a completely new environment was instantly eased by meeting my fantastic team at Chicago Scots and Caledonia Senior Living. As participants of the Saltire Scholar program of 14 years, they immediately made me feel welcomed at the Scottish Home and I have thoroughly enjoyed adapting to the way of life in Chicagoland. Although the 10-week internship has been flying by, it has been packed full of exciting opportunities to build upon my skill set and put what I’ve learned so far into action.

Arriving in time for Chicago Scots’ biggest event - the Scottish Festival & Highland Games - involved two weeks of intense hours to guarantee the best possible experience for the 10,000 guests we welcomed over the weekend. As well as overseeing hospitality for 100 VIP patrons, collaborating with The National Trust for Scotland USA Foundation; Scotland’s National Chef Gary Maclean, and Scottish Whisky experts, all ensured that we were able to deliver incredible raffle prizes and demonstration events for patron’s over the two day festival. It was a privilege to witness the enthusiasm of the Scottish diaspora and the impact of the Illinois Saint Andrew's Society in preserving links to Scottish heritage.

In the wake of the Highland Games, I have been busy with the orchestration of our Volunteer Recognition event at the Scottish Home’s 107th Annual Picnic. As a non-profit, volunteers are essential in our ability to run such events to fundraise for our principal charity, Caledonia Senior Living and Memory Care. The Annual Picnic will take place within the final week of my internship and I look forward to ending the Summer whilst celebrating those who champion the communitarian values of Chicago Scots. Overcoming logistical event challenges, relaying with corporate sponsors, and collating the Harper Brown Scholarship candidate reviews have been just a few of the array of tasks I have undertaken within this role. Approaching such a broad range of responsibilities has required a flexible and solution-based mindset which has been achievable with credit to the constant encouragement by my team at the Scottish Home.

Although I will be extremely sad to reach the end of my 10-weeks, I deeply appreciate this opportunity and position as a Saltire Scholar 2023, and look forward to utilising the skills and experience earned at Chicago Scots within future employment.

Written by: Madelaine Powell
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