Tell us about one of your favorite neighborhoods in Detroit and what makes it unique?

One of the neighborhoods that I have recently learned more about and spent a good amount of time in is Corktown. As Detroit’s oldest neighborhood, it is where all of the Irish immigrants landed in the early 19th century. I studied abroad in Cork Ireland, at the University College Cork for one semester in college. I thought it was ironic that out of all of the places in the world to study, of course, I would pick one with a connection to cars. Henry Ford’s family immigrated from Cork city and he has a Ford plant in Cork, Ireland. It will be very interesting to see if the connection comes full circle and Ford ends up purchasing and occupying the train station, one of my favorite buildings in the city. This year Open Streets ran through Corktown and all of the small businesses in the neighborhood are worth checking out!

Tell us about the challenge project you’re currently working on, what are you learning from the experience?

We just finished up our third challenge with the Detroit Land Bank Authority (DLBA). The DLBA is such an interesting organization to work with because it is the largest land bank in the country and is setting the precedent for organization and operations for other urban city land banks across the country. The DLBA is transforming Detroit neighborhoods and communities all over the city. Being interested in the Real Estate landscape in Detroit this was an extremely informative project and wish the organization success in the future.

Tell us about your host company and your role in the organization.

I was placed at host company Clark Hill PLC, a corporate law firm in Campus Martius. My title is a Financial Analyst on the Business Analytics team. This is my first full-time job out of school not counting the three co-ops I completed at Drexel and it has been such a positive experience. I learn seven new things every day and love working downtown. My team of four helps manage the 500+ lawyers in the firm at 17 different locations nationwide and in Europe.

What kind of impact do you hope to have with your host company and within the city?

As Clark Hill grows in size it is important to pay attention to office relationships. I noticed that there was a need for a social component that could connect coworkers on the three floors that the firm occupies. I organize an event that happens every other month at a bar or restaurant nearby the office. Employees of the firm are invited to come after work and get to talk and make connections with the faces they see in the office but have never interacted with. It’s easier to work smarter and not harder. Our third event is scheduled for May.

What are you most looking forward to this summer in Detroit?

I am looking forward to spending time on the river walk after work, eating lunch outside in Campus Martius, attending all of the local concerts and festivals, especially MoPop festival and smaller shows at El Club. I am hoping to explore more of the city and different neighborhoods as the weather gets warmer.

How do you believe your fellowship will shape your career moving forward.

Spending this year reconnecting with Detroit has been invaluable. After studying on the East Coast at Drexel University, Challenge Detroit has been a great reintroduction to the current issues taking place in Detroit. Now that I am caught up, I have the opportunity to use my strengths to contribute to Detroit’s recent progress.  I am committed to working in the city, volunteering in the city and in the next few years moving into Detroit and completing graduate school at one of the fine universities that are located in the city.

To learn more about Rachel’s experience this year watch her spotlight video below.