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  • Reid Pezewski, University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee

Connections That Matter: Reflections on NMGZ Conference and Study Abroad as Catalysts for Profession

I had the opportunity to attend my first conference through the National Millennial and Generation Z Community (NMGZ), an organization dedicated to helping young professionals through networking, exercises in critical thinking and problem solving, and career development. The conference was in Los Angeles and included students and early-career professionals from across the United States and several other countries, including the UK, France, Germany, India, and Bulgaria.

I was introduced to this conference by my marketing professor, Dr. Amit Bhatnagar, who had sent several students from my university to past NMGZ Community conferences. Professor Bhatnagar was also the faculty lead for the January 2023 Lubar College of Business Study Abroad trip I embarked on to Hungary and Czechia, in which participants learned about the business, culture, and history of Hungary, Czechia, and the central European region.

I am writing about these two experiences as I see them as incredibly formative of my professional journey and believe they impacted my view of international business, connections, and travel.

In Los Angeles, I had the opportunity to make several company visits with the list, including Experian, Beam Suntory, KCET/PBS SoCal, and IW Group. Representing many different industries (financial services, entertainment, public relations, and more), I was able to hear from many successful leaders and professionals within these areas. While in Europe, I had the opportunity to meet with KPMG, Ekol Logistics, and Cisco, companies in accounting, supply chain, and technology. These conversations, however, had more to do with discussing international business and economics than career development.

The connections I made during these company visits were invaluable to my development, regardless of the setting. Coming from a background in finance and technology, I had very little exposure and, honestly, very little interest in companies that specialize in marketing, accounting, or supply chain. From these visits, I learned about transferable skills in my background, and I learned to expand my horizons.

I started my past internship at an investment office serving a small pool of clients shortly after returning home from Europe. On one of the first days, I joined a discussion with some of the company’s leaders about reaching new clients by developing a marketing campaign. This, combined with my realizations from the visits to companies in Los Angeles and abroad, helped me strive to become a more well-rounded individual with diverse skills in the workplace.

I would be remiss without discussing the connections I made on each trip. In addition to the professionals at each company, I think I forged great connections with other members of the NMGZ community, with my peers on the study abroad trip, with some locals from Prague and Budapest, and with Professor Bhatnagar. A wise man once told me that “your network is your net worth,” and I am very proud to say that I have made many new connections over these trips that I continue to stay in contact with to this day.

I want to thank Mr. Bill Imada and Ms. Jackie Garcia for arranging the NMGZ conference in Los Angeles back in 2022, Dr. Bhatnagar and the Lubar College of Business for running the study abroad, and the UW-Milwaukee Honors College and the Lubar Business Scholars program for the scholarships I received to attend the study abroad. These experiences were genuinely formative of my future career, and I am incredibly blessed to have had these opportunities. I look forward to future travels and hope to continue learning as I did in Los Angeles, Prague, and Budapest!


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