Dream Deferred: The Path to Accomplishing Career Goals

By: Afrkah Cooper 

It seemed to happen overnight. D’ante Whitney, a 13-year old from Detroit, woke up with a deep voice – a really deep voice – and he knew he was destined for a career in radio. Throughout high school, Whitney read his school’s announcements every morning at Detroit School of Arts and Sciences, using his joking personality to create a unique and positive school culture. This experience solidified his love for broadcast radio and he knew exactly what he wanted to do.

Whitney struggled in high school and his grade point average was not sufficient for college acceptance. Committed to pursuing a career in broadcast, he attended Specs Howard School of Media Arts, a private career school in Southfield, where he wowed interviewers with his great personality and radio-ready voice.

After an intense 48-week program, Whitney received an undergraduate certificate in broadcast media arts and landed an internship at his favorite local radio station. At the time it seemed like this was his big break. The unpaid internship was in promotions, so he spent most of his time setting up for events, rather than developing his skills. “It was basically free labor,” Whitney said.

After his radio internship Whitney returned to Specs Howard to acquire more skills and boost his resume with an undergraduate certificate in digital media arts. Even with two certificates under his belt, he struggled to find work in the field and settled for stagnant jobs over the next four years. Dreams deferred, Whitney became comfortable with being independent and kept telling himself that he would pursue his dreams one day.

After three-years of working at a plant, Whitney was laid off. Not only did he lose his independence but he immediately began to regret his decision to give up on his dream.

Whitney decided to use this experience as an opportunity to get back on track. He landed an internship at local radio station WDET 101.9 FM and realized this was the perfect place for him.

The WDET staff has been extremely hands-on, and Whitney has been able to rotate throughout departments over the past year, gaining more responsibility and continuing building his network. He now serves as a correspondent on one of WDET’s flagship culture shows, “Culture Shift”. “It’s like being at Specs again, I’m learning,” Whitney said.

WDET has provided an environment for Whitney to flourish. However, the internship is unpaid and he is now at another turning point in his life. He feels he has the experience and is ready to work in his field but is still struggling to find a paying job in his field. Committed to success, he has given himself a two-year deadline to strengthen his network and build his career.

Companies need to develop their own talent. Students need to the opportunity to learn; work experience is key to success. As you look to your own organization, ask yourself how can you develop more impactful internships and offer development-focused, entry-level positions. We have incredible talent in Southeast Michigan and we need to ensure our future workforce is prepared to fill jobs available today and in the future. There’s a role for students, postsecondary institutions and employers.

At the Detroit Regional Chamber, we work with businesses to create a community around talent development within the workforce. If you have a great internship program or support entry-level positions or unique continuing education opportunities (i.e. tuition reimbursement) please contact: Sarah Craft at scraft@detroitchamber.com.

There are so many students like Whitney who lose track because they lack opportunities and guided development. To continue the regions growth, we need to prioritize student access and on-the-job learning.


Employment Attorney Re-elected as Chairman

Foster Swift Labor & Employment attorney, Frank T. Mamat, was recently re-elected as Chairman of the Education Foundation for the American Society of Employers (ASE), a position he has held since 2006. In addition, Frank has also been accepted as a member of the Private Directors Association.

The ASE is a non-profit employer association that focuses on the ever-changing workforce environment so that member organizations can cost-effectively get the relevant information, programs and counsel they need to become employers of choice and help meet their business objectives.

The Private Directors Association provides a national network where executives and professionals interested in board service can find and meet with those that are interested in securing exceptional board members.

Annually selected as one of the top 100 Labor Lawyers in the US by the Labor Relations Institute, Frank focuses his practice on complex labor issues, with a special focus on union matters, contract negotiations and unfair labor practice litigation among other areas. Frank is an alum of Syracuse University College of Law and is a certified Mediator and Arbitrator and Adjunct Professor of Law at Wayne State University.

American Society of Employers (ASE) releases 2018 Starting Salaries for Co-op Students and Recent College Graduates Survey

The American Society of Employers (ASE), one of the nation’s oldest and largest employer associations, released the organization’s 2018 Starting Salaries for Co-op Students and Recent College Graduates Survey today. The annual survey provides a comprehensive look at the current state of wages and benefits provided to co-op students and recent college graduates. The survey also presents employers a snapshot of the recruitment and retention trends associated with these new entrants to the workforce.

Mary E. Corrado, ASE President and CEO, stated, “Today’s employers must be able to attract these newest entrants to the workforce with competitive wages. They also must be prepared to help them adapt to the work environment and set clear career goals in order to retain these younger workers.”

164 companies responded to the 2018 Starting Salaries for Co-op Students and Recent College Graduates Survey. The average number of employees per participant was 827. 80% of respondents are located in the metro Detroit region with 49% of those classified as automotive suppliers.

2018 Starting Salaries for Co-op Students and Recent College Graduates Survey Highlights:
• Nearly three out of four (73%) respondents say their company has hired, or plans to hire, a recent college graduate in 2018, similar to what was reported in 2017.
o While the percentage of companies hiring a recent college graduate is similar to last year, less organizations are increasing their efforts to do so.

o 23% of the companies have increased their hiring efforts this year compared to last year, a decrease of 9% from 2017.

o Even though fewer companies are increasing their hiring efforts, the number of companies who decreased their efforts remains at 3%, and we instead saw an 8% increase in those whose efforts remained the same.

• Statistically, the top five in-state institutions the responding companies actively recruit from are: 1) Michigan State University; 2) University of Michigan; 3) Wayne State University; 4) Oakland University; 5) Michigan Technological University.

• Based on hiring activity, the top three most popular technical Bachelor-degree disciplines hired in the past year were: 1) Mechanical Engineering; 2) Electrical Engineering; 3) Computer Science
o The overall hiring of graduates with a Computer Science degree increased by 12% from last year.

• Based on hiring activity, the top three most popular non-technical Bachelor-degree disciplines hired in the past year were: 1) Business Administration; 2) Accounting; 3) tied between Finance and HR/Labor Relations
o The hiring of graduates with an HR/Labor Relations degree for companies with 1 to 100 employees went from 0% in 2017 to 14% this year.
• The top three knowledge/skill factors organizations consider when making hiring decisions, in order, are: 1) related coursework; 2) computer skills; 3) degree level.

• The top three perceived shortcomings of recent college graduates are: 1) adaptation to work environment (57%); 2) career expectations (56%); 3) compensation expectations (49%).

• Of the seven disciplines named above (Business Administration, Accounting, Finance, HR/Labor Relations, Mechanical Engineering, Electrical Engineering, and Computer Science) the highest starting salaries went to the engineering disciplines. The average starting salary for Mechanical Engineering was $65,160; and for Electrical Engineering the average was $58,865. Finance came in at $52,686; Computer Science came in at $52,513; Accounting came in at $51,733; Business Administration came in at $50,965; and HR/Labor Relations came in at $49,809.

• Pay rates for high school and college co-ops and interns were separated by technical and non-technical roles; the average hourly rate for a college senior in a technical field is $17.66 and $15.47 for a non-technical field; the average hourly rate for a college junior in a technical field is $16.46 and $14.70 for a non-technical field.

To obtain a copy of the 2018 Starting Salaries for Co-op Students and Recent College Graduates Survey, contact Kevin Marrs, Vice President at ASE, 248-223-8025 or kmarrs@aseonline.org.

About the American Society of Employers (ASE) – a Centennial Organization
Celebrating its 115th year of service, The American Society of Employers (ASE) is a not-for-profit trade association providing people-management information and services to Michigan employers. Since 1902, member organizations have relied on ASE to be their single, cost-effective source for information and support, helping to grow their bottom line by enhancing the effectiveness of their people. Learn more about ASE at www.aseonline.org.

Rehmann named one of West Michigan’s Best and Brightest Companies to Work For®

For the 16th consecutive year, Rehmann is honored to be recognized as one of West Michigan’s Best and Brightest Companies to Work For®.

The Best and Brightest Companies to Work For® competition identifies and honors organizations that display a commitment to excellence in their human resource practices and employee enrichment.

Organizations are assessed based on categories such as communication, work-life balance, employee education, diversity, recognition, retention and more. Associates at Rehmann enjoy benefits such as flexible work environments, tuition reimbursement and personalized development plans.

“We are honored to receive this award consistently over the last 16 years,” said Katie Strehler, Rehmann’s chief human resources officer. “The firm has exceptional talent and we pride ourselves in offering a positive work environment that also fosters associate growth. It is because of our people that we can deliver business wisdom and grow with our clients year after year.”

Rehmann is also excited to announce that Trivalent Group, Rehmann’s newest combining firm and a top 100 managed IT service provider, was recognized for this honor as well.

Companies featured on this year’s list will be honored on Thursday, May 3, 2018 at the JW Marriott in Grand Rapids, MI.

About Rehmann
Rehmann is a fully integrated financial services firm of CPAs & consultants, wealth advisors and corporate investigators dedicated to providing clients proactive ideas and solutions to help them prosper professionally and personally. The firm offers a cross-functional team approach that gives clients direct access to a professional in any available service. Rehmann has over 800 associates in Michigan, Ohio and Florida. Rehmann is an independent member of Nexia International, offering clients a global approach. Find us online at rehmann.com.

Event Brings Students and Their Donors Together, Connecting Legacy and Opportunity

Studies say the act of gratitude opens up our thinking, breeds positive emotion, increases our well-being and even leads to greater success. OCC students and their scholarship donors can attest to these effects following a standing-room only event at the College’s Orchard Ridge campus.

Oakland Community College Foundation celebrated its 26th Annual Scholarship Luncheon honoring students who received scholarships and the donors who supported them. This year, the OCC Foundation awarded 250-plus students with scholarships totaling more than $250,000 in support of their future success.

“Our Foundation scholarships help to reduce the financial barrier that often limits students from achieving their dream of a college education,” said OCC Chancellor Peter Provenzano. “I received a scholarship toward college and recognize the difference that it made in my life. We appreciate our donors who make these scholarships possible. They demonstrate a true impact on student’s lives.”

“OCC has a unique place at the intersection of education and employment,” said Daniel Jenuwine, executive director of the OCC Foundation. “We are fortunate that so many of our alumni, community members, employees, retirees and local businesses help our students on their way to fulfilling careers.”

OCC Foundation scholarship recipients spoke about the impact this community support had on their lives, including Cyril Davis, a law enforcement veteran, and married father of six children, who is pursuing a Nursing degree following a traumatic brain injury. He received the Virginia McGill & Fay DeLeonardis Endowed Scholarship, Lillian & Victor Kelmenson Memorial Scholarship and Susan & Dennis Fiems Endowed Textbook Scholarship. With these scholarships, the Troy resident is able to fulfill his commitment to assist fellow officers injured in the line of duty.

OCC Alumnus and Director of the Housing Bureau for Seniors at Michigan Medicine, Janet Hunko, received the Dean O. Webster Memorial Scholarship in 2001 and earned a degree in Mental Health/Social Work. She shared how the staff and students at OCC started her toward a career in Social Work as a non-traditional student, also recovering from addiction. In addition to her leadership position at the University of Michigan, Hunko teaches social work courses at Eastern Michigan University. This year, she celebrates 24 years being clean and sober, and is grateful to the people of OCC that affected her life so significantly.

Gratitude—and a commitment to success—was evident among these students and donors alike.

About the OCC Foundation
The OCC Foundation was formed in 1979 to connect the people and programs of OCC to supporters in the community who share our passion for education. Contributions support scholarships and special programs, and qualify for the federal income-tax deduction.

About OCC
With five campuses throughout Oakland County, Oakland Community College is committed to providing academic and developmental experiences that allows each student to reach their full potential and enhance the diverse communities they serve. It offers degrees and certificates in approximately 100 career fields and university transfer degrees in business, science and the liberal arts. More than a million students have enrolled in the college since it opened in 1965.

Brooks Kushman Ranked In The Top 30 Patent Firms For 2017 By IP Watchdog

Brooks Kushman is pleased to announce that the firm has been ranked by IP Watchdog as the 28th Top Patent Firm for 2017 based on utility patent filings. Each year, IP Watchdog releases a listing of top patent law firms based on the total number of U.S. utility patents issued.

“Every year, Brooks Kushman continues to climb in distinguished rankings in publications like IP Watchdog. We attribute this growth to our commitment to client satisfaction, quality, and the talent of our team,” said John Nemazi, Co-Chair of the firm’s patent prosecution department. “Our attorneys work closely with clients throughout each stage of the process to ensure that the firm provides them the best service possible. This recognition is truly a testament to all of those individual efforts.”

IP Watchdog is a premiere online journal in the intellectual property space, and has been repeatedly recognized by the American Bar Association as a top legal blog. They focus their content on business, substance, policy and law of patents, technology, and innovation, but also cover copyrights and trademarks.

About Brooks Kushman P.C.

Brooks Kushman P.C. is a leading intellectual property (IP) and technology law firm with offices across the nation, and represents clients nationally and internationally with respect to protection, enforcement and monetization of IP, including patents, trademarks, copyrights and trade secrets. The firm has more than 90 intellectual property professionals specializing in various technical disciplines, and has a reputation for providing leading IP counseling with a focus on the business objectives of their clients.

Brooks Kushman counts a number of Fortune 100 companies across a variety of industries among its clients. The firm is also recognized by leading legal publications and rankings, including Corporate Counsel magazine, U.S. News & World Report, Law360, Intellectual Asset Management, Managing Intellectual Property, World Trademark Review, and Intellectual Property Today. For more information, please visit www.BrooksKushman.com.

Moving Michigan Forward: Governor Snyder’s Top Five Recommendations

Gov. Rick Snyder was joined by over 200 business leaders and community influencers from the Detroit region who were eager to hear how the state has progressed during the Governor’s State of the State: Now and in the Future on March 27 at MGM Grand in Detroit. At the luncheon, hosted by the Detroit Regional Chamber, the Governor discussed how Michigan has grown over the past eight years and highlighted five key areas needed to continue the state’s prosperity.

  1. Economy: Michigan has one of the largest concentrations of engineers, both mechanical and industrial, in the world. The state is a leader in the automobility and aerospace industries, as well as insurance and finance. The Governor emphasized a continued push to lead the future of mobility worldwide.
  2. Talent: The Governor created the Marshall Plan for Talent to change the way educators, employers and other stakeholders work together to invest, develop and attract talent in the state. Michigan has an outdated communication system between educators and employers. To maintain its status as a competitive economic market, there needs to be a renewed partnership to attract and retain talent.
  3. Infrastructure: Drivers are currently paying for decades of road neglect. The state is paying down debt that tracks back to the early 2000s, so while infrastructure investment in sewage and road infrastructure is crucial, updating infrastructure will take time.
  4. Fiscal Responsibility: The Governor posed the question: “How can we continue to hold ourselves accountable for future generations?” The state has a payment plan in place, but results will be more long-term.
  5. Civility: The Governor doubled down on his signature belief that “relentless positive action” and public and private collaboration will continue Michigan’s forward trajectory.

Following his remarks, the Governor was joined by Dan Loepp, president and CEO of Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan, and Lorron James, CEO of James Group International. The panel was moderated by Chamber President and CEO Sandy Baruah.

Panelists agreed that state lawmakers’ willingness to reach across the aisle and compromise on key legislation is an advantage for attracting business and positioning the state for long-term prosperity.

“Everyone in Michigan needs to be a Michigan ambassador.” Snyder commented. “We need to be louder and prouder of the things we’ve accomplished. Detroit and Michigan are making a comeback, but we need Michiganders to spread the word.”

Watch the Governor’s Remarks here.

Snyder: Michigan must change narrative for its future

March 27, 2018

The Detroit News

By: Jennifer Chambers

Gov. Rick Snyder said it’s no secret Michigan has come a long way in the last eight years, with rising income and declining unemployment.

“When need to change the narrative. Yes, we’re back. We need to talk about where we are going in the future,” Snyder said on Tuesday during the Detroit Regional Chamber’s “State of the State, Now and in the Future.”

According to the U.S. Census, Michigan has seen its median household income rise from $49,992 in 2010 to $52,492 in 2016. The state’s unemployment rate went from 13.7 percent in January 2010 to 4.6 percent in November, according to U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.

In the last year of his last term as Michigan governor, Snyder said the focus on moving Michigan ahead should be in five areas: economic growth, talent, infrastructure, fiscal responsibility and civility.

It should also include a regional transit system, Snyder said. Regional transit has been a vexing issue for the governor in Metro Detroit where county leaders are divided on the issue.

“This is one the worst areas in the nation for transit. People need access to employment or training facilities. We need a regional transit authority going,” Snyder said during a panel discussion.

“There has been an issue of divisiveness on this. The sooner, the better to get something on the ballot. … Don’t aim for perfect. Get something going, get something done and come after it again.”

Snyder said he hopes to see something on the ballot this fall.

“Figure out what solution can advance the cause,” he said.

Wayne County Executive Warren Evans earlier this month launched a massive, retooled 20-year regional transit proposal that needs voters to approve a $5.4 billion tax later this year.

It calls for a 1.5-mill tax to provide $170 million a year in operational funding while investing $696 million to support infrastructure. The tax would cost owners of the average house worth $157,504 in the region $118 a year.

But Evans and Detroit Mayor Mike Duggan appear to be the only regional leaders behind any expanded regional mass transit plan. Oakland County Executive L. Brooks Patterson and Macomb County Executive Mark Hackel have made it clear they will not support a plan similar to what has been proposed in the past.

Snyder said Tuesday at the event that tipping and user fees on water and sewer service should be part of Michigan’s future.

“I view the environmental infrastructure as important to all of this,” he said.

Snyder touted his Marshall Plan for Talent and said Michigan needs to stop working in silos in education and development a system for education that runs from prenatal through life-long learner.

Snyder said the greatest threat to the county is its own people when it comes to civility.

“We need relentless positive action for eight years,” he said.

Dan Loepp, president and CEO of Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan, was part of a panel discussion with Snyder at the event.

Loepp said civility is an enormous umbrella over all of the issues facing Michigan and its future.

“If you aren’t screaming, you can get things done. We have to keep our economy rolling,” Loepp said.

One member of the audience asked Snyder to tout the success of Michigan including the work done in Flint over the lead water crisis.

Snyder said hard work has been done in the city but there’s a need for more.

“I’m doing a lot of marketing of Michigan around the world,” he said. “Every person needs to be that Michigan ambassador. We don’t tend to be the best at blowing our own horn. …We need to be louder and prouder of what we have accomplished.”


View the original story from the Detroit News on their website.

Snyder urges regional leaders to get transit proposal on ballot

March 27, 2018

Crain’s Detroit Business

By: Chad Livengood

Gov. Rick Snyder on Tuesday urged metro Detroit leaders to reach a consensus on putting a regional transit plan before voters in November, calling Southeast Michigan “one of the worst areas in the country for regionalism.”

Speaking at the Detroit Regional Chamber’s “State of the State” event, the outgoing Republican governor said regional mass transportation is needed to help workers get to job-training and educational opportunities as well as work.

“We do need to get a regional transit authority going,” Snyder said during a luncheon at the MGM Grand Detroit. “There’s no question about it.”

Snyder suggested regional leaders in Macomb, Oakland, Washtenaw and Wayne counties should work on a smaller mass transit plan that all four counties can agree on.

“At this point, don’t aim for the perfect,” Snyder said. “Find what you agree on and get that going.”

Bob Riney, chief operating officer for Henry Ford Health System, asked Snyder at the luncheon if he could take on the issue of regional transit after tackling other “vexing” issues.

For the nearly 30,000-employee system of hospitals, Riney said, the region’s lack of reliable and seamless mass transportation options has become a deterrent to recruiting doctors, nurses, radiologists and other hospital personnel to work and live in metro Detroit.

“We’re at a strategic disadvantage, and we can’t afford to be,” Riney told Crain’s.

For Snyder’s last full year in office, the chamber’s event centered on the businessman-turned-governor’s accomplishments and unfinished business in talent development and infrastructure.

The governor was joined on stage for a panel discussion with Detroit Chamber CEO Sandy Baruah and the heads of two Detroit-based companies: Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan CEO Daniel Loepp and Lorron James, CEO of the James Group International.

“This has been a thorn-in-the-side issue,” Loepp said of the region’s mass transit options. “We may be the worst, governor, when it comes to public transportation in major American regions — and it has to be addressed.”

Loepp called the region’s existing bus transportation systems “ridiculous.”

“Are you truly going to be economically successful as a region when you can’t move people from 16 (Mile) and Gratiot or Woodward and 16 or Michigan Avenue downtown and back into the suburbs?” he said.

After the event, Snyder told reporters he has not had direct contact with Oakland County Executive L. Brooks Patterson on the issue. Patterson has been the leading opponent of the $5.4 billion, 20-year regional transit plan recently proposed by Wayne County Executive Warren Evans.

Snyder, who lives in Ann Arbor, didn’t endorse a proposal floated to exclude Oakland and Macomb counties and have Wayne and Washtenaw counties try to create their own system.

“The best solution is to get all of the region working together,” he said.

Macomb County Executive Mark Hackel also has been a critic of Evans’ proposed 1.5-mill regional transit property tax, arguing roads in suburban Detroit need to be repaired before more buses are added.

Snyder argued Tuesday the region needs to both fix its roads and expand public transit options.

“I don’t think they’re mutually exclusive, and I know that makes it more challenging,” Snyder told reporters. “But we have people who have lack of access to either education or work. … If they’re successfully working, that provides tax resources to reinvest in infrastructure that improve roads.”


View the original post from Crain’s Detroit Business on their website.

Bridging Automotive Research and Industry: Canada and Michigan Partnership Takes Spotlight at Innovation Summit

By: Megan Lasley 

More than 80 attendees, including 18 Canadian colleges, 12 Canadian companies, and numerous industry experts and leaders came together in Detroit on March 22 to discuss the unique opportunities the United States and Canada share in regards to the automotive industry.

Douglas George, consul general of Canada in Detroit, started off the day discussing the unique advantages that both countries share.

“There are no other two countries that share such a close relationship in the automotive industry. We continually come together to explore opportunities across the border. We share joint challenges and success.”

Sandy Baruah, president and CEO of the Detroit Regional Chamber, echoed George’s comments by stating, “This is the most tightly integrated social relationship on the planet. Not only between the United States and Canada but Michigan and Ontario, Detroit and Windsor, we all act as one economic region.”

Baruah discussed the region’s unique advantages including direct access to an international border that other countries lack. With this advantage, Detroit, Michigan, and Canada are the epicenter for next generation automobility.

The key to succeed, is to continue to work together. “We cannot succeed alone, only together,” Baruah said.

Ross McKenzie, managing director of WatCAR, at the University of Waterloo, rounded out the morning remarks by focusing on making Detroit, Ann Arbor and Flint a trifecta for access to talent, automotive technology, materials and innovative ideas. This partnership between the United States, Michigan and Ontario, is one of the most successful business relationships between key industry players.

The day was also filled with numerous panels, covering topics of importance like lightweighting, advanced manufacturing and electrification.

Glenn Stevens, executive director of MICHauto and vice president of mobility initiatives at the Chamber, moderated a panel on connected and automated vehicle technology and artificial intelligence. One key focus was the partnership not only with Canada and the United States, but also collaboration between government and industry leaders which is imperative to bring autonomous and artificial technology to market. Panelists agreed that there is a hierarchical platform of diversity and technology with access like no other place in the world between the two countries; it is not something you can replicate anywhere else.

Both Canada and the United States, but specifically Detroit and Ontario, offer the most potential in working towards the next step in mobility. The day ended with a renewed focus on cross-country collaboration and sharing ideas to keep Michigan, Canada and the United States a world powerhouse for vehicle testing, development and innovation.

For questions or inquiries about Detroit or the region, please visit destinationdet.com or email info@destinationdet.com.