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An intern takes on Detroit & he can't wait to return

This is a guest post by Josh Sidorowicz. I met Josh online over a year ago when he began commenting on my posts here and we began following each other and chatting on Twitter. I had the pleasure of meeting Josh in real life a few weeks back.

Josh Sidorowicz is a native Metro Detroiter and a junior at Michigan State studying broadcast journalism and political science. This summer he worked as an intern at Crain’s Detroit Business. After graduation, he hopes to return to Detroit to work full-time.

It’s become a bit of a cliché.

Anyone who knows me knows I’m a bit over the top when it comes to rooting for my hometown Detroit. And funny thing is, for quite a few years now, I knew I loved and supported the city, but unfortunately had never spent enough time in it to fully understand it and all of its complexities and its inevitable quirks.

I, like many others in the area, would make my way downtown for the usual Tiger’s baseball game or annual auto show but rarely would I actually have the time or opportunity to stay in the city and experience all of the things and places I would so ardently read about on blogs and hear about on the news. Of course being away at school nine months out of the year didn’t help matters either.

And also, like so many others, I even started my own pro-Detroit blog halfway through my freshman year at college—some two years ago already—because I became so fascinated with the impending renaissance that seemed to be taking shape here. Somewhat embarrassingly though, beyond the blogs and Internet, my Detroit experience was severely lacking.

But all of that changed this summer when I was afforded the opportunity to actually work in the city as an intern at Crain’s Detroit Business. Undoubtedly I’ve seen and experienced more in these past three months than I was ever able to experience in the past three years.

From meeting and interviewing business owners, local entrepreneurs and the latest and greatest movers and shakers currently in the D, to being sent out on assignment to locales I might’ve never thought to venture to otherwise, being an intern in Detroit was the best thing to happen to me yet.

I remember my first day on the job back in late May. I was accompanying Nathan Skid, one of Crain’s multi-faceted young reporters who also serves as their multimedia guru guy and foodie blogger. We were on assignment in Corktown where we were meeting two brothers, Ben and Dan Newman, who were about to unleash a revolutionary product in the city of Detroit: bagels.

Yes, bagels.

Sure, in any other city, two brothers trying to start a company making bagels out of their cramped loft would be anything but news and far from revolutionary, but this isn’t just any other city. And so, I remember sitting there across the table from the two brothers during the interview—intently captivated and becoming giddy—as I listened their passion, vision for the city, and determination to want to start a business here in the D.

This feeling never seemed to fade even as I continued to meet and interview more individuals in the city like the Newman brothers. I was reminded time and time again why I was inspired to want to become a journalist in the first place and why I wanted to be one in Detroit of all places. Journalism is and has always been about telling the stories of others.

Detroit is almost bursting at the seams with individuals who have incredible stories to tell.

Whether it be the story of Torya Blanchard, who put everything she had on the line to open up a creperie shop, to Jackie Victor and company who opened the now hugely successful Avalon International Breads bakery in Midtown’s Cass Corridor at a time when drugs and prostitution were more readily available than a fresh baked loaf of bread.

The honor and privilege I felt each time I was able to sit down and talk with one of these individuals to hear their stories is indescribable. It occurs to me now, as the summer winds down and I prepare to head back to Michigan State to begin my junior year, that I am more enamored by this city now than I ever was before.

Because at the core of Detroit, what makes this place so special and so resilient, is the undeniable human spirit that simply won’t give up in this town. It was when I started engaging with that human spirit—like I was finally able to do this summer—that I began to understand Detroit.

And even beyond that, it wasn’t until I put myself down in the thick of it that I was able to fully grasp what this city is all about. Whether it was sitting at the counter in Corktown’s Astro Coffee shop looking out the window across Michigan Avenue to the old train station or walking down Willis Street in Midtown and seeing people, families and children sitting under umbrellas reading, eating and conversing on a summer afternoon while the smells of fresh bread waft out of Avalon.

To understand the city, you can’t just read about it in the papers and hear about it from people like me, people like Becks or countless others who have hoisted Detroit on their backs for one reason or another.

No, to fully understand Detroit, you have to live it, you have to breath it and you have to see it for yourself. 

Follow Josh at jdetroit and on Twitter.

This is the first installment of the Detroit Stories series. If you haven’t already done so, check out the background of Detroit Stories.

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Reader Comments (1)

Sounds like you had an awesome summer experience. Internships are such an awesome opportunity for students to explore an interest. I'm very proud of you and can't wait to see what a major difference you make in the community. Keep up the good work!! Detroit loves you for it!

August 26, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterErica

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