Ann Arbor SPARK, Ann Arbor, MI
This summer, I interned as a business development intern at Ann Arbor SPARK, a nonprofit economic development organization. SPARK is divided into two divisions—business development and entrepreneurial services. The business development team works to advance Ann Arbor’s economy through a diverse set of services to area businesses. This can include consultation, real estate advising, project development, and the like. In addition, the business development team works to attract companies to Ann Arbor to increase investment and job creation. For example, in 2019, SPARK led efforts to attract KLA, a semiconductor manufacturer to Ann Arbor, resulting in a $150 million investment and 600 jobs created.
In my time at SPARK, I had the opportunity to work on multiple projects, sit in on team and business meetings, and take part in project development and company tours. My responsibilities included business attraction, such as curating a list of University of Michigan alumni in decision making capacities at large corporations and conducting outreach. This gave me experience with using platforms such as Salesforce and Pitchbook. Other projects included real estate searches, which included curating a list of real estate parcels in the local area that met certain criteria. One of these lists was later used to assist a local developer for an industrial site search, which resulted in tours of properties on the list. Although these projects were fulfilling and taught me many things, I think I learned the most from conversations with my co-workers, either through one-on-one meetings, team/business meetings, or everyday conversations. Hearing their career journeys was very insightful, and taught me a lot about what I’d like to do in the future—I’ve definitely solidified an interest to land in the venture capital/entrepreneurial space. Working closely with startups at SPARK and how venture capital plays a strong role in this development was a very interesting experience for me. In addition, I also learned that it is very fulfilling to work for an organization that exists to promote economic development and the advancement of a community.
I’d like to take this opportunity to thank the Class of 1972. It has meant a lot to be an ASIP recipient this summer, and your generosity has made it possible. Sincerely, thank you.