Noah at an employer roundtable at Live.Work.Detroit in March
Growing up in the Detroit suburbs, I had always operated under the assumption that unless I desired to work in the automotive field, I would have to abandon my roots in order to secure fulfilling and gainful employment. Even after countless hours logged in Detroit visiting my parents’ workplaces, attending concerts and sporting events, and exploring old and new buildings, I believed that I had to leave Detroit to experience full-body urbanism. It is what I had always been told. I was to be an unwilling participant in the infamous and inevitable Michigan Brain Drain.
As I write this, I sit in my apartment above Lafayette Park, near downtown Detroit, with a view of iconic buildings and an international waterway, feeling more viscerally a part of an urban center than I would in Chicago or Los Angeles, thankful that I chose to act in spite of the misconception and hyperbole about Detroit coming from my hometown. I am far from alone in this generational defiance. When I moved to Detroit from Ann Arbor two years ago, it was a demographic culture shock every time I would go back and forth; that feeling of one city as a hot tub and the other an ice bath has been moving toward equilibrium ever since.
In the past couple of years, there has been an exciting influx of motivated and educated twenty-somethings into the core of Detroit. They come from all over the city, from the surrounding suburbs, from the middle and left sides of the state, from those thriving U.S. metropolises that did not falter in the mid-20th century; they come from abroad. They bring their creative explosions, their computational minds, their empowered hands, but most importantly, they bring a desire to contribute to Detroit’s growth.
When they reach out to me for guidance with Detroit’s job market, they come with enthusiasm and resolve. I often argue that if the city continues to attract the grand problem-solvers and those motivated by their surroundings as much as their bank statement, Detroit will have a population as proportionately nimble and versatile as any other large city. The looming question on every Detroiter’s mind, however, is whether this influx is sustainable, or if it is just trendy.
I recently sat around a table with recruiters and human resources employees from some of the city’s most prestigious companies and organizations to discuss the issues concerning talent attraction and hiring specific to Detroit. While the feedback varied understandably based on the industry represented, one common thread was woven throughout the discussion: the opportunities for fulfilling and gainful employment are plentiful, despite the misconceptions regarding their unavailability.
It’s going to take more than a simple mayoral press release to dispel the notions of Detroit as a professional void. When considering whether this progressive momentum is enduring or “trendy”, remember that techno and automobiles began as a trend, but through innovation and perseverance in the face of doubt and criticism, they took root. In Detroit, for the foreseeable future, I have as well.
About the Author: Noah Kaminsky is D:hive’s Work Resident. When he’s not connecting talented professionals to local employment opportunities, he is working on his music business, Backbeat Detroit. He enjoys playing the drums and watching the Tigers. He lives in Lafayette Park, where he loves being in close proximity to Eastern Market.