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  • Writer's pictureAnnabella Sills, Alumna, University of Mississippi

Feeling Connected More Than Ever

The connections made on the National Millennial and Gen Z Community trip go much further than professional networking, and the impact of these connections goes much deeper than what meets the eye.

We live in a time where human connection is continually threatened by disease, political polarization, increasing dependence on technology, and various other factors. This has manifested into tangible challenges within the business realm. The Millennial and Gen Z workforce, specifically, experiences high levels of disconnection from our peers, ambiguous separation between professional and personal life, and “unprecedented” workplace obstacles. This makes an in-person experience like the NMGZ Community professional trips abundantly necessary.

Our generation needs these intentional conversations about the reality of working in the 21st century, both with our peers and with those who are a few steps ahead of us professionally. The core purpose of the NMGZ Community is just that, and the trip to San Francisco provided an opportunity for me to engage in this dialogue.

From collaborating in think-tank simulations to working together in team building challenges, there was no lack of opportunity for leadership development or professional growth. However, the most inspirational and empowering aspect of the trip came from the raw human connections that I formed.

I remember sitting on a bench with one of my fellow peers after a pitch competition. We were no longer discussing our strategies for a higher ROI for the case study, but rather we were sharing at length about the obstacles females have to overcome in the workplace. We shared our own past experiences, including how we had both been overlooked in the workplace and have encountered levels of discrimination. We talked about the role that race and gender play in creating more barriers and challenges in the business field for BIPOC females. I listened and learned from her experiences that I, as a white female, have never encountered.

The conversation was honest, raw, and even uncomfortable at times, but abundantly necessary. My colleague and I shared our hopes and dreams for a future in which we would be appreciated, acknowledged, and accepted for our intellect and leadership as women. I left the conversation inspired by her authenticity and willingness to share, as well as hopeful that the future we both dream of is in fact closer than we know.

The next day, we found ourselves sitting in a boardroom with top female executives as well as around a dinner table with female entrepreneurs and business owners. The stories shared were ones of triumph and enlightening journeys these women have faced, and how they overcame these all too familiar challenges.

I sat there bright-eyed as I listened intently to their advice and found myself more inspired with each conversation. They fearlessly shared with us their personal roadmaps to success, professional communities they partook in, lessons learned from past female mentors, and the importance of perseverance.

I am so grateful for these authentic and passionate conversations that we shared as we analyzed and dissected real life challenges. I found that there was a shared community in our overlapping stories. I am equally as thankful for the inspiration that came from the businesswomen who shared how they overcame adversity and left each of us empowered with stories from their own success.

Although we live in a world where disconnect is continuously growing, it is experiences like these that make me hopeful of a future where connection is thriving.


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