Native Detroiter Neil Tambe, MBA ’15, is deeply passionate about the City of Detroit and the pursuit of social impact. It was this commitment to the City that motivated him to serve as 2014-15 Co-President of the Detroit Revitalization & Business Initiative at Ross, and to seek out a 2014 summer internship with the City of Detroit Executive Office of the Mayor.
During his internship Neil worked across sectors on economic development and operations initiatives focused on streamlining the business licensing and IT help desk ticket processes, and he began implementing these changes all within about 8 weeks. Additionally, he was instrumental in developing new policies and plans for the water department which were also put into practice over the summer.
Reflecting on how his cross-sector lens aided him in his work, Neil explained, “this office is at the nexus of what is happening everywhere in the City, and the cross-sector perspective has been very valuable for me as an intern with the City. There’s a lot of work to do in the City whether you’re in the private, public, or social sector, but these sectors working together leads to results.”
“This experience helped me reflect on what I care about spending my time doing, and realize that it’s ok to do something different than the normal MBA career path. I think sometime in the future I’ll be able to look at a building, or look at a newspaper, or hear a public conversation and think, huh, that’s something we started working on that summer I was interning for Mayor Duggan the first summer he was in office.”
Neil received funding for his summer internship with Mayor Duggan through Business Impact Self-Directed Internship Fund, and the student-run Give-A-Day Fund, which enables MBAs to donate one day of their salary to help fund students in social impact internships.
Speaking about the support he received and the value of social impact internship opportunities, he stated, “I’ll be forever grateful to my classmates at Ross, because if other students hadn’t donated a day of their salary I wouldn’t have been able to do this. It’s important for MBAs to do non-traditional internships because cross-sector work is where the magic happens, and students need to be working in other sectors.”
His time with the City has had a profound effect on his career and personal trajectory. Though the internship was slated to wrap up at the end of the summer, Neil chose to continue working through the academic year. He also brought his skills and insight to bear as a participant, and ultimately a finalist, in the Detroit-focused 2015 Social Impact Challenge, which called on students to develop concepts for the redevelopment of the North End’s Fisher Body Plant 21.
For those looking to make an impact in Detroit, Neil offered valuable advice, saying, “Talk to lots of people. Detroit is a place where people place a lot of value in relationships. If you have an opportunity to have coffee with someone, go do it. Figure out what issue you want to serve, and roll up your sleeves and dive in. Then, stick with it.”
Keep up with Neil on his blog.