A month has buzzed by and I continue to love every moment. Whether I am hanging out in my 93 year old apartment building in Midtown Detroit, biking around the city to participate in the unlimited weekly events, or working at my very exciting host company, Billhighway, I love it all and could not be happier about my first month with Challenge Detroit.
A little over a month ago I moved to Detroit, from nearby Ann Arbor, happy as could be. I spent the last two years in Ann Arbor studying Urban Planning and ultimately studying Detroit. I never directly intended on that, but I knew Detroit was close by and a great place to study city planning issues. What I found in Detroit was something I never experienced to the same degree in other cities, community. Community is the essential component to Detroit. Detroit is 139 square miles, with many patches peacefully empty or beautifully blighted, but throughout all of it, there is always a sense of community, belonging, and togetherness. These components allow groups to come together to do more good in their community without asking for anything or much in return. This sense of Detroit identity immediately made an impression on me and drove me to study the city and eventually move here.
Challenge Detroit: My Journey
Throughout my second year of graduate school, I began to compile my resources to begin the super exciting, and not at all time consuming, job hunt. As the year progressed, I heard about a program called Challenge Detroit. I knew little about it at first, but kept it on my radar because of its focus on Detroit. After researching more and hearing the Executive Director, Deirdre Greene Groves, speak about the program, I was hooked. The only tricky, but fun, application recommendation was to create a minute long video about myself. So I rented a camera, asked a friend to video tape me, and scurried around Detroit one crisp winter afternoon filming myself at various locations where I worked in the city. It was great!
Skipping ahead a few weeks and months, I eventually submitted my application and then waited. After making the first cut of 100, down from 900, our videos were posted on the website for the public to vote on via Facebook. This was a short and stressful process, but ultimately proved to be worthwhile. I received hundreds of votes and after another week or so of waiting, was notified that I made it to the final round of sixty. This was the interview round. Sixty of us were vying for thirty spots. I interviewed with a few different organizations, but I will never forget my interview with Billhighway.
After I began talking with Michelle and Brenda, I realized I was not just having any ordinary interview. I sensed I was talking with two people who came from an organization that really represented my dedication and caring to assist Detroit’s growth, but most importantly, helping others around me. I remember thinking, “How do I help a financial software company with an urban planning degree?” But I left knowing they were a company that I wanted to work for because of their dedication to doing more good.
Billhighway: More than Just a Company
Now, one month into my year of working for Billhighway, I cannot be happier with my situation. Billhighway on its face is a financial software company working to streamline the arduous tasks of paying bills and fundraising. What people do not see is how Billhighway cares about their clients as if they were their own children, makes it a point to give back to the region that hosts them, and support their employees in any of their endeavors. Billhighway has a great culture and I feel this culture suits me best for success.
My time has been short so far but I am tasked with a variety of projects ranging from researching advertising opportunities to physically researching our competitors’ products to make our products the best. My boss, Michelle Lange CMO, pushes me hard to do my best work and make an impact in the company. Similarly, the rest of my team members Lisa V, Lisa S, and Charlotte help me to feel welcome and support me in all of my work (the entire Billhighway team also makes me feel this way). I am not just an intern with a few responsibilities to fill my day. My tasks are forwarded to the executive team weekly in order to provide them with critical information they need to keep pushing the company forward. In addition, I am always asked for my opinion on all details revolving around our marketing schemes and I always feel involved in the company. The culture and camaraderie here is similar to Detroit. This is what I enjoy most. Individually, some work can get done, but in a community with passion, dedication, identity, and togetherness, many more problems can get solved and progress can be made.
If you’re interested in opportunities at Billhighway, see our open career positions!