Blog: Chris Ando, Jennifer Guracech, & Christian Bielski

In a sign that the Great Lakes State is riding the wave of its young talent, a group of interns came to exchange ideas with state powerbrokers at the recent Mackinac Policy Conference. Jennifer Guracech, Chris Ando, and Christian Bielski offer up their takeaways from this gathering of Michigan's intelligentsia.

Chris Ando: Influence on the Island

Coming to work at the Detroit Regional Chamber was very exciting for me. I thought it would be a great opportunity where I would be able to experience much of what the Chamber has to offer.  However, I had no idea that I would have the opportunity to attend the Mackinac Policy Conference (MPC). Having known about the MPC for many years and followed it in the news, I saw its reach and influence. When asked if I would represent Intern in, along with three other interns at the MPC, I was very honored and eager to experience the conference.   

From the moment we boarded the ferry for Mackinac Island, we got to see what the conference is all about.  It was non-stop activity of people meeting each other for the first time, along with old acquaintances seeing each other again.  This to me is the greatest benefit of the MPC – the most influential people in the state, many whom would have never come together, all congregating in the same location.  It made the state seem much smaller than it is.  The inside of the Grand Hotel appeared to me as a neutral playing field, where people of different political persuasions can speak openly with one another and anyone can have a conversation with the most powerful people in the state.  Never did I think I would ever be surrounded by so many movers and shakers.  It provided me with many firsts, such as my first television interview – and my first blogging experience.

As I am pursuing a career in economic development, this year's conference was particularly enticing.  Besides the upcoming elections, all of the focus was on Michigan's economy and getting people back to work.  More than anything, I was glad that people from the Allegheny Conference on Community Development came to speak on the success of the Pittsburgh region.  If we are to take anything away from the people of Pittsburgh, I hope those coming back to the Detroit area come back with the same positive attitude about their region and what it has to offer as they do in Pittsburgh.  

Working at the Detroit Regional Chamber for a few months prior to the MPC allowed me to learn a great deal about what the chamber has to offer, which prepared me well for the conference. Over the past six months, I have been exposed to more than I ever thought I would see at this stage of my career.  The chamber made sure that these experiences were things I had an interest in and that would benefit my career.  The number of networking events I have attended has been uncanny.  I have been able to hone in on my networking skills, while establishing a network to move my career forward.  As I continue to work at the chamber on exciting projects aimed at helping the region and state move forward, I will make sure to carry on the enthusiasm and optimism I was able to capture while at the MPC.