Gilchrist makes Detroit auto show appearance to encourage youngsters to work in Michigan

Christine Ferretti
The Detroit News
Lt. Gov. Garlin Gilchrist II speaks at the North American International Auto Show in Detroit on Thursday.

Detroit — Lt. Gov. Garlin Gilchrist II on Thursday urged talented youngsters in Michigan to find careers here after detailing his own story of "coming home."

Gilchrist made the brief remarks to a handful of spectators during the Future Automotive Career Expo at Cobo Center during the North American International Auto Show. 

The state's second in command promoted the state's "Choose Michigan" campaign and encouraged attendees to do the same.

"There was something about Michigan that always had a gravitational pull on me," he said. "Ultimately, I chose Michigan. It was the place, when I wanted to take my career to the next level, that I knew I needed to be."

Gilchrist of Detroit attended the University of Michigan's engineering college and said after earning two degrees, felt he had to relocate to become "the professional I wanted to be."

He spent several years in Seattle working as a software developer for Microsoft and then took a job in another industry in Washington. D.C.. before returning home in summer 2014.

Gilchrist's short address took place ahead of a Choose Michigan panel talk amid the expo with about 1,000 registered high school and college students.

Choose Michigan seeks to retain current and future STEAM talent and attract high-quality talent to fill the hundreds of thousands of current and future high-demand career openings.

The Thursday expo offered resume writing and social media tips, professional headshots and other opportunities for students and job seekers. It also offered an opportunity to network with employers and technology start-ups, said Erica Quealy, a spokeswoman for the state's Department of Talent and Economic Development.

Quealy said the event featured various panel discussions in addition to Gilchrist's segment, which she said illustrates the offerings job seekers can find in the state.

"He is someone who left the state for a number of years to pursue his career opportunities but was brought back to Michigan for one of the highest jobs we have in this state," she said. "He's a leading example of what we're trying to get the word out about today."

Gilchrist, who has a bachelor's of science in computer engineering from the University of Michigan, served as a director for Detroit's technology department between 2014-17 developing various systems and databases for city departments.

He left his job with the city in March 2017 to launch a campaign for Detroit city clerk. He advanced in the August primary but lost in the general election to incumbent Clerk Janice Winfrey.

Kadirul Chowdhury, 29, of Warren, is studying software engineering at Macomb Community College. He came to the expo on Thursday to learn about internship opportunities, he said. 

"It's good for entry-level students to get the real-life scenario of what is happening," he said.