I did a lot of firsts this month. I left a full-time job for an internship. I moved to a city I only heard about in the news. I moved to a community that wasn’t dominated by white people. And so far I’m loving it, and learning more than I ever have.
I’m really happy I made this change. It has no doubt extended the longevity of my life as a photojournalist. I needed the perspective and the challenge. I hope that gives someone encouragement if they ever feel they need something more. I couldn’t have done it without the solid base of training I received at the Billings Gazette, my former place of work.
So here I am now in Flint, Michigan. Home of a water crisis that is ongoing, pot-hole infested roads, abandoned houses and an incredible sense of community made up of the most resilient people I’ve ever met. Some can’t leave and many choose to stay. It’s a mix of so many things. I was so excited to be thrown into the middle of it when I arrived.
But then they sent me to a job fair on my first day. I winced when they told me. Job fair? In the middle of the day? Really? Fine. In my experience job fairs have always been small, maybe 100 people or less who were able to squeeze it in before class or work. And so off I went. Job fair… grumble.
As I drove to the job fair’s location I noticed traffic was heavy, I was in a long line of cars which inched its way to Mott Community College. Cars were parked along residential streets. Law enforcement was the only thing preventing angry motorists from running reds and hitting each other. Is this the same thing?
When I entered the college I couldn’t believe what I saw. The line of people waiting for an interview was in the thousands. They were wrapped around the interior of the building, up stairwells and clogging hallways. And there were only 400 jobs available with the company, Lear Corporation. I was shocked. People in Flint need jobs, badly. That assignment was a great experience and introduction to members of the community. Never assume you know how an event is going to be, even a job fair. Over 1,500 people showed up and due to the influx of people, many were turned away.
Ever since that assignment it has been non-stop in the best way. I’m so thankful to have met some incredible colleagues as well as my editor and mentor, Jake May. Also my coworker and roommate Zahra Ahmad. It has been a blessing to work and live with an equally driven and talented women as she is. We have so many ideas that we need two more of us, maybe three. I’m so looking forward to seeing the work we do together.
With that being said, here are a few of my favorites from this month.
Always say yes to something that will make you better. Even if it goes against the norm.