In May, the Economic Development Corporation of Michigan City welcomed in new office administrator, Michele Hyland. Hyland, who recently returned to the Midwest, brings in years of experience working to improve communities, in sales and in the travel industry.

‘I was born and raised on the south side of Chicago,” Hyland said. “My dad was a firefighter and my mom was a stay-at-home mom until we got older but she was really active in Girl Scouts and volunteering in our school, which was good. It was annoying when you’re younger but looking back I’m so happy she was involved in our lives.”

After high school, Hyland moved to the north side of Chicago before relocating to New Orleans, Louisiana with her family.

“New Orleans was great. It’s weird, it’s different. It was awesome. New Orleans is it’s own sort of entity and to watch (Hurricane) Katrina destroy it was like a piece of my heart died because it was really sad.”

Hyland and her husband decided to leave New Orleans and travel up and down the east coast so they bought a 40’ R.V. and set out with no real destination in mind.

“We were both in the travel industry,” said Hyland. “After 9/11 it was hard finding work so we bought a big 40 footer and saw every state from Illinois to Louisiana and on over. It was nice for a couple of years.”

“In doing that, we realized that D.C. and that area was always going to have jobs. There’s the government and contractors who always need food, beverage and hotels. We decided to base ourselves there so we bought a house in Baltimore.”

In Baltimore, Hyland gained valuable experience working with their community organization to build their presence online to ultimately have a positive impact in the community.

“I took everything that I had learned from sales and created a website, Facebook page and an eBlast system. We went door-to-door, to nearly 1200 homes, to put out a newsletter to let people know, ‘Hi, we’re here.’ We worked with Rebuilding Together for two years to make homes warmer, safer, and dryer.”

“The first year we did 30 home and the second we did 20. For the most part people were happy and they came out and a lot of things got fixed.”

This exposure to dealing with citizens, communities and politicians in Baltimore gave Hyland some great experience in building up programs and initiatives to help people and improve neighborhoods.

Two years ago Hyland came back to the Midwest to visit and on her return to Baltimore she decided that she had spent enough time on the east coast, and that it was time to get back to the Chicago-land area.

Hyland’s husband had changed careers and he was able to find a job in Chicago so they decided to start looking for places to live within about an hour of the city.

“We looked throughout the whole Wisconsin, Illinois, Indiana and Michigan region and found a place that was within about an hour away from Chicago. That was cool and we were there for about a year before his job required him to be centrally located to Southwest Michigan, Northwest Indiana and the South Suburbs of Chicago. That’s what required the move to Valpo and is what brought us to the Region.”

Hyland got settled in Valparaiso in January and began taking every interview that she possibly could in looking for work. This process of applying and interviewing for positions gave Hyland some great opportunities to expose herself to that process and the interaction involved when trying to land a job.

“I took every interview I could. I didn’t care what it was for! It also kind of helped me figure out what to say, how to answer those questions and the rehearsal of that whole process.”

Through a recruiter, Hyland found that a position with the Economic Development Corporation of Michigan City (EDCMC) had opened up for an Office Administrator. Hyland took the interview and walked away feeling pretty good.

“It went really well I thought and they pretty much offered me the job right away. I was able to start right away, which was really great and I’m loving it!”

Things have been going well for Hyland since her move to the EDCMC just over two months ago.

“It’s given me the opportunity to learn new things,” Hyland said of her time, since May 2nd, with the EDCMC. “I haven’t been on Quickbooks for a while so I’m learning that again. I’m getting the chance to also use the things that I’m good at while getting up to speed with some of the newer stuff as well.”

“The mayor’s office has been really helpful and GLEDC has been helpful as well. Dealing with politicians in Baltimore was so different. There’s so much positivity here too. I really like the fact that Clarence (Hulse) wants me to attend functions going on in the city. It’s nice being invited to represent the EDCMC.”