Meet the Interns (part 2)

In our last post, we introduced D3’s pilot summer internship program and interviewed our three data analysis interns – Alexis Farmer, Ayana Rubio, and Sabiha Zainulbhai. Now, we’re introducing Jessica Waligora, our Web Development Intern, and Lucas Munson, our Marketing/Outreach Intern. As with our three data analysis interns, Lucas and Jessica are working on community-focused projects of their own invention, adapting the traditionally internal focus of their positions into design and outreach initiatives that will have significant benefits for the Detroit community!


What is your history with Detroit? What caused you to pursue this internship?

Jessica: For many people who have a history in Detroit it is usually because they grew up in Detroit. My journey with Detroit started with my love for art. I came to study Advertising Design at my dream school, College for Creative Studies (CCS), which is located in Midtown. I pursued this internship for the experience it would give me. I also really like what Data Driven Detroit stands for, and want to be a part of it. I would also like to better understand what I can bring to the organization.

Lucas: Although I was raised in Boston, I always grew up a Detroit kid. While all of my friends were wearing Red Sox jerseys and celebrating another Patriots Super Bowl victory, I was always proudly wearing my Detroit Tigers hat and Chauncey Billups jersey. My love of Detroit was not solely rooted in sports, either. As a kid I loved maps, and it was not long before I decided to pursue a degree in city planning. I then constantly found myself drawn to the Motor City, and leapt at this opportunity to work here in Detroit. As the communications intern, I find myself constantly placed in positions to meet new people and see the exciting work D3 is doing for the city. Therefore, as someone who did not get the chance to grow up here, I could not have asked for a better opportunity to truly begin to understand the beautiful city of Detroit.

Tell us about the project that you’ll be working on this summer! What is it? What do you hope it will accomplish?

Jessica: I am the web development intern and I will be working on a few different projects this summer. In a broad spectrum, I will be taking the interactive tools that Data Driven Detroit has to offer and converting them into a format that the public can use. I will also be helping with the development and upkeep of Data Driven Detroit’s new website. Even though that was my specific intern project, I was also added to the communications/marketing team given my experience with that in my degree. I hope that it will help get D3’s name out in to the Detroit community and make people more aware of the resources they have access to.


Lucas: This summer, I am working on a project that aims to make our data more useful and accessible. While all of D3’s data is available online, many people do not regularly have access to a computer, or simply prefer to see things on paper (like myself). My goal is to create maps and other forms of information that are relevant to a particular community, and make them available for any resident by placing them in community centers, libraries, and other common places. I hope this will provide an additional resource for community leaders and organizations to help them continue the incredible work that they do in their respective communities.

Tell us something about yourself that would surprise us.

Jessica: I played softball for 9 years and while on my JV softball team in high school, I was awarded with the MVP title that year.

Lucas: I am actually from Brazil, and moved to the States as a kid. That’s why I love soccer!

What are your favorite types of data?

Jessica: My favorite types of data are demographic and socioeconomic data. They tell you about people and their stories in a numeric format in numeric format.

Lucas: Population, for sure. I love looking at populations of different cities, states, neighborhoods, anything. I especially enjoy looking at population trends over time, for just a few decades of figures can really tell a story.

What’s your favorite D3 map or data visualization?

Jessica: My favorite D3 map would have to be the Open Data Portal. It takes some of the information D3 has collected over the years and makes it interactive. The best part is that all of the data offered on the Open Data Portal is free to download, which includes tables, charts, and datasets.

Lucas: I really enjoy the work D3 did with Motor City Mapping. The incredible detail and diligence required to track every parcel of land in this enormous city is mind-boggling. Plus, there is no better way of understanding Detroit when I am hundreds of miles away than to spend countless hours clicking around and seeing the state of every single neighborhood.

Aside from this project, what else do you hope to accomplish during your internship?

Jessica: I hope to become more involved in Detroit’s community, further my own and others’ personal and career development. In order to work on any of these projects here, each person has to really want a brighter future for Detroit, and the best way to do that is to become more involved with the community. Most, if not all, of the D3 staff members are already heavily involved with the community and I would like to follow in their footsteps. Also, going into anything, especially a new opportunity, you need to understand not only what you can receive but what you can give others. By the time my internship is over, I hope to have grown a lot as a person and in my career and to help others grow as well.

Lucas: The wealth of knowledge on anything ranging from data analysis to computer programming here at Data Driven Detroit is incredible. It would be foolish of me if I did not use this opportunity to learn from all the brilliant people here at D3 that make this all possible. I hope to become more refined in programs such as ArcGIS and Access. In addition, I hope to learn more about this city, and look forward to seeing and learning about all the incredible work being done in every corner of Detroit.

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We thank you for taking the time to get to know our summer interns! We’re looking forward to a fantastic summer with these fine individuals. We plan to keep updating this blog with additional content from the program over the course of the summer, so be sure to check in from time-to-time to learn more about their experiences with D3!