In Summer of 2016, Data Driven Detroit (D3) entered a partnership with Michigan State University’s InnovateGovinternship program. Through this program, MSU students get the opportunity for an immersive experience working at an organization in the city of Detroit. During the internship, they live on Wayne State University’s campus in the heart of Midtown Detroit. Their time is split between working with the organization at which they’re placed and participating in learning activities carefully curated by InnovateGov’s expert program administrators.
Introducing: Boitshoko Molefhi
During the summer of 2016, we had the pleasure of welcoming two students into D3’s first InnovateGov cohort. We wanted to take a moment to spotlight the awesome work they did with us last summer, provide an update on what they’re up to these days, and explain how their time at D3 helped to elevate their path and future endeavors.
First up is Boitshoko Molefhi (more commonly known around the office as “Bo”). During his time at D3, Bo was working toward a bachelor’s degree in Microbiology with a secondary bachelor’s degree in Public Policy.
Tell us a little bit about yourself.
I am from Botswana – a little known country in Southern Africa. For a better picture of where it is, it borders South Africa on its immediate north central area of its border. I have always had a passion for scientific work, particularly research, and studying microbiology to me seemed to be a great tool for learning the skills necessary to advance my country in the field of bio-sci and subsequently improving the state of public health. I also have a knack for policy framework design, so I wanted to couple my knowledge in microbiology with the skillset of policymaking so as to strengthen institutions that facilitate and maintain public health in Botswana. Ultimately, I want to work as consultant in crafting policies that govern drug testing, drug approval, and disease control.
What’s your favorite type of data to work with?
My favorite type of data to work with is qualitative data because it requires an extensive amount of description to preface it, and therefore allows one to make better decisions in understanding it. It is always contextualized, but brings the highest level of thinking out of people when it comes to defining the criterion with which the data is categorized. I enjoy such challenges!
What did you do when you interned at D3?
First of all, interning at D3 was a phenomenal experience! It really pushed me into the deep-end of critical thinking within policy because I got to do a lot of qualitative data analytics. The great thing about it was that I had asked for work in that area and D3 gave me the opportunity to do it. One of my main projects was designing a criterion that would assess the feasibility of partnerships with organizations. I designed it (to the best of my ability and with the help of some D3’s sharp minds) to be extensive but more importantly, to be a living document that would evolve as both the internal and external organizational landscapes shift. I also got to have a stab at 3D printing during some of the down-time at the office. In addition to these fun projects, I got to be part of the land parcel survey team that went into the city (around the Cody Rouge area) to map the state of the city! It was a good transition from office space life to just walking up and about in the community engaging with people.
What was your favorite project at D3?
My favorite project at D3 was the Biz Wiz project. It was long and extensive, but I enjoyed the challenge that came with it. I did monotonous research for business mapping and then the hard part, categorizing the various organizations as well as criterion design for partnering up with them. It was stressful but worth it, because I understood the need to allow my methodical side to work in synergy with my creative side so we can have the best possible frameworks to benefit D3.
What was your favorite thing you did in Detroit during your time in the city?
Playing with the 3D printer! I really was fascinated by the whole process of how it worked and Erica was super awesome in teaching me a few things about how to make it work. Surprise 3D printed business card holders were the icing on the cake for the internship. My most favorite thing was the team get together. Just getting to hang out with everyone and to not talk about gentrification or parcel mapping was great! Getting to know people a bit more was great (plus it set me up for my first post-collegiate job).
Where are you working now?
I am currently working in Detroit for a radio station as a summer program director for the communications and broadcasting training program. Prior to this, I worked for Avalon Medical Laboratory on the Caribbean islands of St. Kitts and Nevis.
Tell us a little bit about your role there.
In my position at Avalon Medical Laboratory, I served as a medical technologist as well as a policy developer. The job synergized my two college degrees into the focused task of creating a policy framework system for the lab that would situate them for accreditation by the International Organization of Standardization.
At my current job, I worked to manage the progress of the training program to make sure that all the goals for the summer were met, and designed a framework that would be able to measure the achievement of said goals. In addition to the this, my current task at hand is developing a comprehensive curriculum for the training program.
How did you come across your current position?
Circling back to the D3 team get together, Erica asked me what I was studying at MSU and I proceeded to tell her, as well as the reasons why I was studying said disciplines. In an excited voice, she shared that her mom ran a laboratory in the Caribbean and she had been talking about needing help. Long story short, Erica connected us and I had my job interview in October and was offered the job on the spot! So, I didn’t see the need to look elsewhere, and just prepared myself for a new adventure in a completely new place. Many thanks to D3 and all the people who agreed to have a get-together.
As for my position with the radio station, I am one of its co-founders. While I was out in the Caribbean, GDYT (Growing Detroit’s Young Talent) approached us to see if we wanted to be a site for the summer program for youth employment. The leadership team at Be-Moor Radioagreed it was a good move to make, and so once it was all settled I headed state-side to administrate the summer program.
How did your time at D3 equip/prepare you for this position?
D3 helped me in so many invaluable ways. D3 harnessed and sharpened my ability to consolidate my skills to work in synergy with one another. I was given the chance to set my goals for summer and I raised the bar high for myself, and D3 provided all the necessary support to accomplish my goals. I grew in confidence working at D3 because I was treated like a full-time employee and not just an intern, being entrusted with major organizational projects from the onset. As I have gone into my various positions after D3, I have become cooler under pressure and delivered quality work in a timely manner. I am supportive of my coworkers and assist them in achieving their goals in and out of work, because a culture of community is a personal value – one cultivated and continually nurtured by D3 and the people, places and spaces D3 brought me contact with.