Why Derek Debiak stayed in Michigan to make his career

By Alyssa LaHaie

October 26-30 is Michigan College Application Week, a dedicated time for high school seniors to apply for postsecondary education.  During this week, we’ll post a series about young professionals who grew up in Michigan, went to college in Michigan, and then stayed in Michigan to make their careers.

If high school seniors are considering attending college next fall, they don’t have to look far to find world class institutions.

Derek Debiak was once of those high school students who decided to stay in Michigan for his degree.

“From the time I can remember I always wanted to go to Michigan State.  I never really had any interest in going anywhere else.”

Debiak grew up in a town just south of Kalamazoo and said that he always wanted to stay in Michigan.  He graduated with a degree in international relations and economic policy from MSU, and then found a variety of opportunities after graduation right here in the Great Lakes State.

Today, he works in digital marketing for Kellogg and is also working on a startup business called “Ayyo Weekends,” an entrepreneurial project designed to make weekend travel in Michigan hassle-free by gathering resources into one location so that everyone can see the beauty our state has to offer without the typical stress of planning.

Debiak discovered his passion for entrepreneurship while he was studying at MSU.

“The entrepreneurial association and Spartan Innovation opened up the world of entrepreneurship that I didn’t really know existed,” Debiak said.  “I got to learn all of the good hands-on skills, and that eventually led me down the path of digital marketing.”

After graduation, Debiak said he decided to stay in Michigan because of the state’s incredible resurgence.  Since Governor Snyder took office in 2011, he’s been working to increase the number of opportunities for Michiganders in an effort to keep more young people here.  Over the last five years, Michigan has created more than 400,000 new private sector jobs.  Our unemployment rate is below the national average for the first time since August 2000, and the governor has worked to create a more job-friendly environment to strengthen Michigan’s ongoing omeback.

As he continues to pursue the opportunities available to him in Michigan’s growing economy, Debiak encourages other young people to also stay and make their careers in the state.

“I would say that Michigan is unique because everyone here wants you to succeed,” Debiak said. “Everyone I’ve encountered is extremely willing to help in any way that they can. All you have to do is ask for it.”