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Interns bring life to a city and in turn are enriched by the opportunities they receive through their work.

For students, the internships are a huge part of their path to professional competency, and Detroit offers a plethora of opportunities for them.

For example, the internship program at GM Financial is a developmental opportunity for students.

“They receive real-world experience in a unique industry, as the office in Detroit services automotive finance for international market,” said Elizabeth Jozefczyk, General Motors senior HR Generalist. “Throughout the summer, interns learn about the business, work on special projects, and get immersed in our corporate culture.”

Brandon Brown, director of talent acquisition for Meridian, a Detroit-based health insurance company, said they are able to connect with top talent from more than 20 universities and colleges across the state and country.

“Meridian is able to hire a strong candidate pool of future leaders who not only live our culture, but also embrace our mission,” Brown said. “As a result, our interns get to truly share in all the hard work and the fun that makes working at Meridian something special.”

Detroit’s interns hold a variety of positions with Meridian, GM Financial, the Smith Group, among others, and they had much to say about their fondness for the city, among other things. They hail from all over the state — even internationally.

The Detroit News talked with eight interns: Eric Wilson, creative intern, Marketing Associates (a marketing and customer service firm); Zakariya Alabri, structural intern, Smith Group (an architectural engineering firm ); Danielle LaJoie, 2017 Mawby Intern, Council of Michigan Foundations (a community of philanthropists dedicated to increasing the impact of Michigan philanthropy); Emily Rubens, Katie Murphy, Jake Davis, Wayne County prosecutor’s office interns in the violent crime unit; Michael Geng, special projects intern, GM Financial; and Mike Urso, student intern, Meridian.

Detroit News: Where are you from originally? Is this your first time in the city (either visiting or working)?

Eric Wilson, 25: Dearborn, but I’ve lived in Woodbridge Estates in Midtown for the past three years.

Zakariya Alabria, 23: Oman!

Danielle LaJoie, 21: I’m originally from the Cereal City, Battle Creek. I had the privilege of living and working in Detroit last summer, for the same organization, but in a different position. Last summer was the first time I had spent any substantial time in the city of Detroit, and I absolutely fell in love with it.

What are your responsibilities?

Emily Rubens, 21; Katie Murphy, 20; Jake Davis, 21, help with daily activities, make copies, and talk to witnesses, explaining cases and charges to them.

Alabri: Designing foundations and calculating connections between parts of the structure.

LaJoie: My responsibilities are primarily working with the 86 youth grant-making committees housed within different Community Foundations throughout the state of Michigan. My main task during this internship is to plan and execute a weekend-long conference held at Central Michigan University for these youth grantmakers to meet, share ideas and work together to create a lasting impact on their Michigan communities.

Wilson: I create collateral for internal and external clients, whether that be print-based or online; basic creative work, essentially.

How has your experience been so far?

LaJoie: I’ve actually wanted this internship since I was 14, and it has been an indescribable experience to get to pursue what I’m passionate about in a city I’m also passionate about.

Wilson: I’ve enjoyed it. I get to sit in on client meetings. I’m learning a lot in a short amount of time.

Is there anything you’ve done outside of work to enjoy the city?

Michael Geng, 21: Spending time walking around Campus Martius, Greektown, and the riverfront has been especially fun.

Mike Urso, 21: I like to play piano and go to downtown Ferndale with my friends.

Rubens: Eat!

Murphy: Go to Greektown.

Davis: Tigers’ games.

Wilson: I like to go see movies in New Center Park.

LaJoie: Some of my favorite things to do are visit public art installations like the Heidelberg Project and Hamtramck Disneyland, hang out at the “beach” in Campus Martius Park, and attend open Swing Dance nights through Wayne State University.

Has working downtown changed your perception of the city?

Geng: Working in the RenCen has for sure. Detroit is not as bad as people make it out to be, and the city is slowly coming back. The city is still small, but signs of recovery are everywhere.

LaJoie: Working in the city has definitely changed my perception of it. I grew up in southwest Michigan and never spent much time in Detroit. Like many others, I had a biased perception of the powerhouse of a city that built Michigan on its back and then was all but abandoned.

The Detroit I’ve lived and worked in for the past two summers still feels the effects of that abandonment, but it shows its tenacity in the growth and new life that pops up on every block.

Rubens: Downtown is much better, but I’ve always had a more positive view of the city than other people I know.

Urso: I’ve always liked the city.

Alabri: It’s a good city to make lots of friends in the summer, and I like that it’s very diverse, but I’m not sure about winter!

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