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Ann Arbor Spark

April 10, 2019

Academia and Tech: How One Dual-Career Couple Built a Home in Ann Arbor

Jennifer and Dustin Rabb
Jennifer and Dustin Rabb with pups Thelma and Louise — @thelmaandlouisea2 on Instagram.

While recruitment strategies for top universities vary, the University of Michigan continues to prove why it attracts top talent in academia. This was reinforced when Jennifer Bridwell-Rabb, Ph.D. was being considered for an Assistant Professor in Chemistry position. While she was carefully evaluating what the university and department could offer, her husband Dustin Rabb was weighing his options as well. 

Dustin and Jennifer both attended Central Michigan University, then moved to College Station, Texas so Jennifer could earn her Ph.D. at Texas A&M. At that time, Dustin continued his career in sales working with AT&T. Dustin remained with AT&T when the couple moved to Boston so Jennifer could pursue her postdoc at MIT.

Four years after arriving in Boston, Jennifer’s mentor at MIT encouraged her to look for her next opportunity, although it wasn’t until year five that prospects solidified. By that time, Dustin was also ready for the next move. While in Boston, Dustin had progressed from AT&T, working for Patch.com (a news and information platform at one time owned by AOL) and Intuit. “When the University of Michigan planned for our first visit, they were very considerate of my own career aspirations and scheduled meetings with a number of local resources, including with Jennifer Olmstead of Ann Arbor SPARK.”

During that initial visit, Dustin was really impressed with what he found, “There was a lot happening in tech that initially attracted me to Ann Arbor. From Google establishing an office to the great work coming from startups like Duo Security, it was clear that the software scene was hot here.”

After a few more visits, it was clear to both Jennifer and Dustin that Ann Arbor was their next home. “I applied for a position at Thomson Reuters and then followed-up with Jennifer Olmstead to let her know. Shortly after that, I heard from Jen Idrizi, lead talent acquisition partner for Thomson Reuters.[1] I always appreciated connecting with SPARK. I felt like having someone in the area tell my story really helped me get my foot in the door at Thomson Reuters.”

These days, Jennifer and Dustin are now on the other side of the recruitment process, speaking with potential U-M hires about the transition from Boston to Ann Arbor. “We often tell recruits, or even just our friends, that Ann Arbor has a lot of what you love about Boston. It’s a very energetic community — folks have embraced an active outdoor lifestyle and there are lots of parks. Plus, it’s a progressive community with easy access to the Amtrak station and Detroit Metro airport.”

The biggest difference between their lives in Boston and Ann Arbor is that now, Dustin and Jennifer have more time to spend with each other. “We now have more time together. Eliminating the long commute times means we can actually enjoy the entertainment and dining options all within a short walkable distance.”

Read similar stories about relocating to the Ann Arbor region.


[1] Yes, there are three Jennifers in this talent tale.