I don’t think I fully grasped the possibility of such frustration until today – literally. On our walk back from TechTown, Raymond and I agreed that today was truly the first day that we felt more frustrated than satisfied with our day at TechTown. Despite having definitely faced some roadblocks these past three weeks, every day we left feeling like we were making very good progress on our major project (the economic impact report for TechTown). Today, however, it just felt like we hit more roadblocks than usual – inconsistencies in our report data, difficulties in making decisions about our report’s design, and so on. As I reflect upon these last 3 weeks at TechTown and think about the next 5 weeks ahead and the deliverables we’ve set out to make, I don’t think this blog post could be better timed. It is definitely time to sit down and think deeply and carefully about the purpose of my project.
Raymond and I finalized this project a little less than a week into the program, and we were very excited about the possibility of helping assess TechTown’s impact. Though the first few days at TechTown were very chaotic in terms of settling down our project (we found out a major part of our original project had already been completed by last year’s interns, which required us to reassess our deliverables and think about what more we should do for TechTown), we came up with the idea of creating the impact report and quickly received very positive feedback from key people at TechTown, who said that such a report was overdue and necessary. We quickly immersed ourselves into the project and assigned ourselves major tasks to perform every day, including gathering and assessing data, interviewing key TechTown figures and companies, and writing content for the report.
In the last few days, and especially today, however, it became clear that despite the general ease (and occasional hiccups) in our day-to-day efforts, this project would be a lot more difficult to complete than we anticipated. We realized there were many inconsistences in the data we collected, the data reported in previous years’ reports, and the data that different employees at TechTown had. Additionally, we realized that if we wanted to produce a truly outstanding project, we would have to spend much time thinking about graphic design, something neither of us are particularly skilled in.
But I don’t mean to complain or lament my woes. Matt’s and Katherine’s words are really starting to ring clear in my head, and in recognizing some of TechTown’s difficulties and our project’s limitations, I’ve come to better understand what it is that we can actually accomplish for TechTown – something that I’m glad happened sooner rather than later. Originally, our idea of an impact report focused more on assessing TechTown holistically and honestly and making internal recommendations for change, but upon talking to multiple TechTown figures, we’ve realized that TechTown needs more than that. TechTown definitely needs and wants an impact report, but specifically, they need promotional or PR material for potential clients and investors. Despite my original hesitation to take on a “marketing” project, I realize now that in addition to better understanding ways it can improve and change, TechTown really does need a beautiful, physical impact report that highlights its past accomplishments and its vision for the future. As for ways that this project is affecting the city of Detroit, I believe that by assisting TechTown in its mission to serve more companies and communities, we are contributing to revitalizing Detroit’s community and economy.