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Site aims to connect students to Detroit internships

By Will Greenberg, For the Daily
Published February 25, 2013

Art & Design sophomore Matt Rosner and his friends want to change perceptions on campus about Detroit and inform University students that there’s more to the city than date parties and community service.

Rosner is the head creator of Detroit Wolverine, a website linking Detroit-based companies with the University to increase access to internships.

Rosner said he was looking to involve students in an innovative way with the culture of the city.

“The goal of the organization was to engage with Detroit and the University in a way that hadn’t been done before,” Rosner said. “Most of those organizations (already involved in Detroit) did community service or service-geared learning … but when we collected together and talked about it, it’s not something we wanted to engage in.”

Detroit Wolverine works on a rolling basis, uploading links to companies’ internship applications as companies join the program. There are various types of positions offered, both paid and unpaid, and all from companies within the Detroit area.

Rosner said he sees internships as just one part of a “multi-angled approach” to get students more excited and engaged about Detroit.

“When you mention Detroit the word association is either crime or sports, and that’s about it,” Rosner said, “There’s a lot of really cool stuff that not many people know about in Ann Arbor, whether they’re from the metro Detroit (area) or they’re from across the nation.”

A summer in Detroit offers a lot of enticing incentives, including very cheap housing, Rosner said. He also pointed out Detroit’s unique ability to allow a college student a high level of impact on a major city.

“If you go and do your job, whatever it may be, in New York or L.A., or a high-density city with a lot of people doing a lot of different things, the likelihood that you’re going to positively impact the environment around you in the city and the citizens around you is quite low,” Rosner said. “The interesting thing about Detroit is because the innovation happening in the city is only just recently starting to reboot itself, the ability for someone to make an impact in the community or within a sector of business in the city is highly likely.”

Rosner said he was “infatuated with the culture” of Detroit and worries that a combination of fear and ignorance is preventing students from experiencing the city.

“Don’t get me wrong, the city is still dangerous, and there’s cities all around the world that are dangerous, and so it’s not like the negative stigmas aren’t true, but there’s a lot between the lines that exists that’s really exciting,” Rosner said.

LSA junior Morgan Princing participated in the Semester in Detroit program last spring and is looking to use the site to help her secure an internship in the city for the upcoming summer. She agreed that students’ fears about Detroit may be too harsh.

“It’s just more or less like another city, and you have to be, you know, safe as you are anywhere,” Princing said, “I was by no means discouraged by it.”

Both Princing and Rosner said the benefits of working in Detroit far outweigh the risks, and they encourage students to get involved in the city as much as possible.

“Detroit just has a lot of personality, and I think there’s a lot of ways that Detroit kind of inspires people,” Princing said. “The whole do-it-yourself culture can be very inspiring.”

In the future, Detroit Wolverine wants to partner with other Detroit-focused groups on campus to increase access to the city for the students. Specific goals include a Detroit internship fair, increased transportation to the city and “Friday Nights in the D” weekend outings.

Correction Appended: A previous version of this article incorrectly identified Morgan Princing as a co-creator of Detroit Wolverine.