The Windy City is often ranked as one of the best cities to live in, worldwide.
It’s got arts, culture, and job opportunities served up with a friendly, Midwestern vibe that helps tame the impersonal atmosphere that can accompany living in a large metropolitan area.
For professionals looking to expand their horizons, there’s no better place than the Chicagoland area to find the job of your dreams, further your career, or even start your own business.
Here’s Why Working in Chicago Can be Your Next Step to Success
Everyone knows that Chicago is fabulous. However, if you need a few more reasons to move here, and take advantage of everything it has to offer – read on!
1. Business is Booming
The primary reason to work in Chicago is, quite simply, the wide number of opportunities. While the city may have seen a recession in recent years, the private sector is currently experiencing its highest growth levels in almost 25 years.
If you work in information systems, engineering, government, construction, or any of the other myriad industries located in the Chicago area, you can take advantage of this boom and get a higher salary if you are a Certified Project Management Professional.
If you want to add Project Management Professional (PMP) certification to your resume, there’s a well-respected PMP training boot camp located in the area that will make it simple to increase your advantage in this thriving job market.
2. Traveling for Business is Easy
Lots of businesses require employees to travel regularly. Whether you have to jet out every week or just once in a while, you’ll find that Chicago makes it easy to get where you need to go — fast.
With two large airports, Midway and O’Hare, serving the metropolitan area, you’ll have plenty of choices to get that perfectly-timed flight. Not only that, but the most popular destinations in the country are a short flight away.
- Washington, DC – 1 hour 45 minutes
- New York City, NY – 2 hours
- Orlando, FL – 2 hours, 30 minutes
- Atlanta, GA – 2 hours
- Dallas, TX – 2hours, 15 minutes
- Phoenix, AZ – 3 hours, 30 minutes
- Denver, CO – 2 hours, 30 minutes
- Seattle, WA – 4 hours, 30 minutes
- Los Angeles, CA – 4 hours
Not only is Chicago’s central location a plus for business travel, but it works to your advantage when you’re ready to jet off on a well-deserved vacation as well.
3. Getting Around the City is Easy—and Fun!
Not many people can say their city’s public transportation system is fun, but Chicagoans can come close. The “L,” or elevated train system in Chicago is the nation’s fourth largest and second busiest rapid transit system.
It’s one of only a few systems in the country that offers 24-hour service on at least some portions of its run.
Because the train is elevated — or above ground — you can freely use your mobile device during your commute to get more work done, wind down with some games, text a friend, or swipe right to find a date for dinner.
That doesn’t happen on below-ground transport systems like subways, so the L gives you a the advantage of having fun and connecting with friends during your commute.
The L currently has eight lines that cover the entire Chicago area, plus outlying suburbs. Watch for several line extensions in the near future to reach populations even further outside the city limits, as well as a potential Airport Express line for travelers.
4. Chicago Cares About Your Health
In 2016, the Chicago City Council passed a law mandating that all businesses operating in the area provide paid sick leave for their employees.
Neighboring Cook County, Illinois followed suit shortly after, although their rules will not replace local governments’ policies that currently have sick leave laws in place.
Essentially, you begin earning paid sick leave as long as you’ve performed two hours of work in a two-week period. It accrues immediately after hire, and you can use it to tend to your own health or the health of a family member.
You can even access this benefit to stay home with a sick child, or care for a child whose school is closed due to a public health emergency.
5. After Working in Chicago, There’s Playing, Too!
There’s nothing like letting off a little steam with your office mates after a long, hard day at work. Chicago’s diverse selection of bars and restaurants provide opportunities galore for winding down and networking.
Some venues even schedule happy hours that are a little later than most to cater to the after-work crowd, and there are after-work yacht cruises that showcase the city skyline while you dance and drink with friends.
Having fun with friends after work is so prevalent that Zagat has a category for best after-work bars in Chicago. You can take your pick from the eclectic atmosphere of the Bad Apple in North Center to the refined elegance of Le Bar Chicago at the Sofitel Chicago Water Tower and many others in between.
6. It’s a Team Effort
If you love sports, you’ll love working in Chicago.
Besides playing host to major league teams like the Bulls, Bears, Cubs, and Blackhawks, the city backs minor league teams that will vie for your attention.
Not only are traditional sports like baseball and football represented in the minor leagues, but there’s also roller derby, softball, rugby, and Ultimate Frisbee teams waiting for you to cheer them to victory.
With so many options, your employer is bound to have season tickets to some event or other to entertain clients, reward high performing employees, or support the teams themselves.
7. Entertaining Yourself or Clients is a Slam-Dunk
We already discussed how sports teams figure into the business world of Chicago, but there’s so much more to this city in terms of entertainment.
Besides offering a plethora of museums and art centers, Chicago serves up theater and entertainment on a silver platter. The world-renowned Joffrey Ballet makes its home in the Chi-town, along with award-winning theaters like Steppenwolf and the Chicago Shakespeare Theater.
Chicago also boasts a bevy of talent-filled neighborhood theaters and the big city is a big draw for celebrities like Kanye West, Harrison Ford, and Bill Murray.
In fact, one of the nation’s best loved comedy venues is located here.
The Improv Comedy Club in Chicago is a must-see for laugh lovers as is Second City, the Chicago-based comedy troupe that launched the careers of Bill Murray, Tina Fey, Dan Aykroyd, and Steve Carell, among others.
8. Career and Entrepreneurial Support
Chicago takes good care of its professionals and businesses.
Over 20 colleges and universities in the metroplex help foster opportunities for continuing professional and business growth. Some estimate that more than two thousand support groups exist in the Chicago area that cater to helping entrepreneurs and business people hit their strides.
One way to increase your earning potential and give your career a boost is to consider getting your Project Management Professional (PMP) certification. In just four days, you can be on your way to an expanded role in your company, a new position, or a higher salary.
There are networking groups available for every industry, niche, and subspecialty. Some, like Technori, are open to anyone and are fee-free. Others, like the American Club Association, have fees and are by invitation only.
There are specialty clubs that focus on female professionals, Latinos, CEOs, and other niche groups in addition to the standard Chamber-of-Commerce-type networking groups.
Besides clubs, Chicago also has a thriving mentorship community, where retired business leaders offer career guidance and advice to up-and-coming professionals and small business owners.
9. Fill Your Plate with the Finest
You can’t work hard unless you’re properly nourished, right? Well, Chicago has a few hometown specialties that you’ll find yourself falling in love with before long.
Deep dish pizza?
No one does it like Chicago does. Layers of cheese stacked over your favorite fillings like pepperoni, sausage, mushrooms, and more — all snuggled into a warm, buttery crust at least two inches deep and topped with tangy sauce.
The dogs have their day in Chicago — hot dogs, that is.
The Great Depression was the impetus for one of the most iconic foods of the city — the Chicago-style hot dog.
Take a steamed poppy-seed bun and drizzle it with bright yellow mustard. Now, pop in an all-beef hot dog and top with tangy relish, chopped onions, tomato wedges, hot peppers, and pickle spear.
Give it a sprinkle of celery salt and you have pure hot dog heaven!
And finally, no trip to Chicago would be complete without a taste of an Italian Beef. This traditional sandwich features thin, tender slices of seasoned roast beef in an Italian roll topped with sweet or hot peppers and bursting with juices.
Why You’ll Work in Chicago
As a professional, you might come for the job opportunities, the ease of travel, the way entertaining clients is a no-brainer. You might even come to be mentored, enlightened, or to bolster your resume.
But you’ll end up staying for the arts and the culture, the local spirit, the camaraderie, and in many cases, the downright awesomeness of the food.
Yada is not just the leader of the Project Management Training Institute (PMTI). He helped to write significant portions of the project management standards worldwide. He is helping PMI right now in reviewing, directing, and leading the development of the 7th edition of the PMBOK(r) Guide to incorporate the most monumental changes to project management standards in 35 years. He shares his wisdom with readers via the PMTI blog.