Understanding What Makes Blue Go

Before joining the EVPCFO Office as an organizational development intern, I had never thought about what goes on at the University of Michigan beyond my student experience. My first peek into Business & Finance “behind the scenes” was at the Big House during an MHealthy photoshoot. Aliyah Mitchell, Tina Jordan, and I were photographing a special MHealthy event as part of the Purpose Project (Fall 2018). MHealthy is just one of the many B&F units that “Make Blue Go” and this was my first look into what the university staff do and how nuanced their roles are.

Photo taken by Aliyah Mitchell of Amy Zhang during an MHealthy photoshoot (summer 2018)

Through the Purpose Project, I was able to explore and learn about all of the areas within B&F by taking photos on site, vetting all the photos taken by Aliyah Mitchell and Chelsea Hamm (our main student photographers), and writing thank you notes to all the participating teams that allowed us to photograph them. It was incredible to see how each team supported the university as a whole and how teams would come together to collaborate on larger projects like Wifi on the Diag

Wifi on the Diag stickers from the ribbon cutting event (fall 2018)

After learning about many of the different B&F teams and areas separately, I had the opportunity to contribute to the Day in the Life project. Here, I was able to think about how Business & Finance impacted my life as a student every single day. I was truly immersed in the project: from picking the locations, to helping with the video script by thinking of interactions and shots that would highlight B&F’s presence, and even to participating in the video shoot as an assistant director. 

I was able to take what I had learned from my experience with the Day in The Life project to my life as a student and become more aware of all that B&F does to Make Blue Go. After this project, my appreciation and gratitude for Business & Finance staff increased greatly and I would tell my friends little fun facts about how B&F was impacting our lives at school every day.

U-M student assistant director Amy Zhang and second crew director/camera operator Seth Allen walking back for “take #4” of the Day in the Life video shoot (spring 2019)

Not only was I able to gain insight into what B&F already does, I was also able to see where B&F was going by observing how leaders were taking on new challenges and continuously trying to improve, especially with efforts to create a positive organizational culture where staff know what they do matters and they can make a difference. I was fortunate to be able to attend monthly B&F Leadership Forums, DEI trainings and table discussions where I witnessed and engaged in conversations with attendees from different B&F areas about how they plan on applying and sharing the concepts and materials with their teams. 

Guest speaker Jim Mallozzi engages in conversation with student interns Amy Zhang, Victor Jauregui-Tapia, and Kyle Duffy at the December B&F Leadership Forum (winter 2019)

When I was organizing and helping to develop resources for the Positive Energizer (PE) MBox and creating the Facebook Workplace group for PE’s to share information, I never could have envisioned how impactful the 90/90 Challenge would become. Through documenting the initiatives of PE’s in weekly reports in hopes of inspiring further actions, it has been incredible to see how a seed of an idea can mobilize an entire organization to engage in culture building activities and daily/weekly practices- even amidst a global pandemic! Although the challenge only called for 90% participation, the actual participation was far above that percentage, as everyone contributed in small ways that resulted in powerful shifts. 

An inside look at the B&F Positive Energizers MBox (winter 2019)

My experiences as an organizational development intern have given me insight into, and allowed me to more fully appreciate, what each and every team within B&F does and continues to do to continuously grow and develop. Thank you to B&F for showing me how you Make Blue Go!