Community | Entrepreneurship | Outdoors

Saying goodbye to Detroit's interns

Labor Day has now come and gone … which means it’s the week that kids dread the most and parents love –it’s officially back to school season!

Here at After 5 Detroit, we sit somewhere in the middle.  We’re sad the summer has come to an end, yet we’re excited to have closed out another fun and successful intern program.

Five summers ago, while sitting in a meeting with DTE Energy, talking about our Connect After 5 Program – which works with the downtown corporate community to engage their employees in fun and unique monthly team building/networking events (like kickball out at Belle Isle, volleyball in Campus Martius, trivia nights and happy hours) – one of their executives raised her hand and said: “We have interns coming to the city in two weeks for the summer program, do you have any suggestions for them?”

It was my AH-HA moment!

Here we had been discussing the importance of attracting and retaining top young talent, engaging them within the community, and allowing them the opportunity to meet others …which was also the perfect way to get interns excited about working in the city for the summer!

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After 5 Intern Program “Kickoff Event” at Campus Martius

So we called up our other corporate contacts, asked if they were bringing on interns, and within the two weeks between that meeting and the start of their programs, we officially hatched the After 5 Intern Program with 400 participants in that first summer.

We couldn’t be happier to report that each summer continues to grow, with 2014 ending at 2,500 interns representing over 30 companies.

So why is this so exciting?

This is our next generation! These are the talented, educated and upwardly mobile young professionals that Detroit has struggled for so many years to attract and retain…yet, they are a vital demographic to our city and state’s continued growth and innovation.

And now…they want to come to Detroit!

They want to see what’s going on in the city, and they want to be a part of it all. Detroit looks widely different today, than it did just 5 years ago – and I’d put money on it looking widely different in another 5 years.  These interns want the urban experience and are excited to be a part of Detroit’s revitalization. They are hearing and reading about the cool things happening in the city – and that’s a message we need to continue to spread.

Remember…these are college kids. They want to have fun, they want to meet each other, they want to be in cool places and they want jobs.

Each summer, they are a captive audience, just begging for something to do. And we at After 5 feel tremendously lucky to give them an opportunity to discover the city in ways they might not otherwise outside of our program.

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Interns discover what it’s like to live in Detroit at our Loft Party

We host a Loft Party to show them what it looks like to live in Detroit, while meeting others that already reside here. We go on Restaurant Crawls, encouraging them to get out of the office for a meal or happy hour. Governor Snyder even carved out time to address the importance of retaining this top young talent within the state of Michigan. And we introduced them to some of the area’s top business and community leaders, including a keynote from Shinola’s executives, at our Dinner with Executives event.

In order to “sell” these interns on Detroit, we must recognize that jobs and lifestyle are the two very important components in their decision making process. This is why we basically spend our whole summer cultivating positives experiences, meaningful relationships and valuable connections that will hopefully convince them that Detroit is a vibrant option to live, work and play post-graduation.

So while college campuses are buzzing with excitement for the start of the 2014-15 school year, our sites are already set on a bigger and better summer in 2015, where hopefully we get to host even more interns for another fun and exciting program showcasing our city!

Kerry Doman
Kerry Doman is Founder and CEO of After 5 Detroit (www.after5detroit.com), a website that highlights events, hotspots and information targeted at young professionals who wish to fully experience the Detroit lifestyle. She also founded a spin-off business, Connect After 5 (www.connectafter5.com) that develops after-work events and activities for local companies that seek to build morale, engage their employees within the community and increase retention amongst their staff. In summer 2010, she launched the After 5 Intern Program (www.after5internprogram.com) that joined together thousands of interns and new hires to retain the area’s top graduates by showcasing the available lifestyle throughout downtown Detroit. With each new program and venture, Kerry strives to create opportunities that showcase the available lifestyle throughout the area, in hopes of further attracting and retaining the top talent to live, work and play within the city of Detroit. Kerry is the recipient of many awards, and is currently Co-Chair of the Emerging Philanthropists Initiative, as part of the United Way of Southeast Michigan. She sits on the Board at The Heidelberg Project, Boll Family YMCA, D:Hive Advisory Board, and the Detroit Creative Corridor Center Advisory Board. Follow her @KerryAfter5.