Two hundred college students and recent college grads left their offices on June 7 and gathered at the Majestic Theatre to meet, greet, network and just plain have fun. These interns, who are working for more than 20 Metro Detroit companies this summer, were attending the first of many events sponsored by the After 5 Intern Program.
In its second year, the After 5 Intern Program gives these young people a first-hand look at the Downtown Detroit lifestyle with one blatant goal in mind – get them to stay in Detroit. Its loft and rooftop parties, a restaurant crawl, an Eastern Market tour and happy hours are meant to show them the best of the city and also help them learn to network.
The program is coordinated with the Downtown Detroit Partnership (DDP) as part of its efforts to retain young talent in Detroit. Tony Earley, executive chairman of DTE Energy and chair of DDP’s executive committee, echoed that sentiment in his welcoming speech to the interns. “Our goal is to show you the best of the city – ultimately to help us retain you as long-term employees and productive members of our community,” he said. “Detroit is a city that welcomes new blood to its leading institutions. It is a place where you can make a difference in whatever your passion is – the arts, culture, philanthropy – at an earlier age and with more significant involvement than any large metro region in the U.S.,” he said. DTE joins 20 other companies such as General Motors, Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan, Marketing Associates, Honigman, Compuware and Quicken Loans in hiring these young, talented, summer interns. All total there are more than 600 interns working at these companies this summer that are participating in this program.
Earley has three sons, all of whom are college grads. One is in Chicago. One is in LA and the youngest stayed in Detroit. That son is far more connected and has far more access to key community institutions than any of his brothers do in those larger cities, he said.
Given Detroit’s image and problems it’s a challenge to convince interns to come back here following graduation. “Yes, we have our problems and we’ve certainly taken our share of economic lumps over the last decade. But the tide is turning,” Earley said.
Detroit has a growing number of downtown employment opportunities, an urban lifestyle, unique housing options and walkable neighborhoods. It’s starting to catch the attention of educated young professionals who are considering locating here after graduation.
“Every year companies throughout the Metro Detroit area recruit terrific, talented young graduates and interns to work here in the summer,” said Kerry Doman, owner of After 5 Detroit. “The goal of the After 5 Intern Program is to give them a life-long love of Detroit and the vibrant lifestyle and opportunities it offers.”
The summer-long program features seven events including a loft party at Midtown’s Studio One Apartments, a tour of Eastern Market, a kickball tournament on Belle Isle, a concert in the Park to be held in New Center, a “Dine and Dash” restaurant crawl and a happy hour cocktail party at Foran’s Grand Trunk Pub.
Next week there’s a kickball game and on June 29 they’ll be at Studio One and part of the buzz in Midtown. “We want young people coming into the city and enjoying all it has to offer,” Earley said. “We’d like you here permanently – bringing your energy to our region. Detroit is a great place for young people to live and work!”