Luckily, for the sake of TechTown and for the sake of DukeEngage, the answer to those questions was no. It wasn’t because we simply wanted to show that we were responsible Duke students, or because we had good work ethic. It was because our work in Detroit had a much bigger picture- to help the thousands of unemployed by revitalizing the Detroit economy.
The flexibility given to Mabel and me at TechTown allowed us to take initiative, gaining major roles in the assistance of the CityInsight, one of TechTown’s incubation clients, as well as creating economic impact reports to track TechTown’s influence on the Detroit community. Of course this flexibility also came with its drawbacks. At times Mabel and I were offered little guidance as to how to proceed. We’ve inputted hundreds of names and emails into an out-of-date database, gotten conflicting recommendations from different supervisors, and shifted through numbers and metrics that we honestly aren’t even sure are credible. It is in these times that it’s so easy to become frustrated, disregard the kind-hearted nature of TechTown’s wonderful staff, and forget about the bigger picture of our work here in Detroit. But these frustrations have allowed me to realize a truth as well-sometimes you really can’t have everything your own way. Especially in the workplace, there are realistic limitations to the tasks you can complete.
With that in mind, Mabel and I now have a much more accurate outlook on the things we can accomplish at TechTown in the next 5 weeks. Although our idea of the economic impact reports has pivoted from simply an internal recommendation report to an additional public relations marketing tool based on the direction of our supervisors, we are now more determined than ever to produce something tangible, deliverable, and usable at the end of these 8 weeks.