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  • Writer's pictureLeonardo Hall

Keep Portland Weird!

When you’re surrounded by extraordinary people, extraordinary things tend to happen. Last summer, I had the privilege of being accepted into the National Millennial and Gen Z Community!

I was welcomed into the group with open arms as I signed up for the organization’s 29th trip to Portland. Representing the University of Puget Sound, I was thrilled to have the opportunity to network and form friendships with other intelligent and talented young professionals from across the country. Here are my biggest takeaways from the trip:

1. Expanding your network is crucial for your career

John Donne, a wise poet, once said that “no man is an island.” While all of us are certainly capable of succeeding on our own, having support along the way makes things easier. Connections are powerful! Networking serves as an avenue to create long-term relationships that can aid you throughout the course of your career. Having support from motivated, passionate individuals can pave the way for more opportunities in your career.

During my trip to Portland, I was able to connect and build relationships with people all across the country ranging from Florida to Hawaii. Connecting with all of these talented individuals really inspired me and reminded me that developing long-lasting relationships with others will be invaluable in both my professional and personal life.

2. Businesses are working towards being more proactive within communities

In wake of the George Floyd protests and the BLM movement that transpired over the past year, companies have reacted by making diversity and inclusion spaces a point of emphasis. In Portland, the National Millennial and Gen. Z Community engaged in discussions regarding racial inequality, social responsibility, and how firms can take initiatives to improve.

Having the opportunity to gain different perspectives from the Oregonian, Portland Business Alliance, and even from the Portland Police Bureau made it clear that everyone is struggling. Especially for law enforcement, acquiring and retaining people of color is a challenge. The solution? I believe it all starts with community. Establishing a positive presence in the community goes a long way towards shaping the reputation of an organization.

3. People of color offer unique perspectives to companies

Upon entering the National Millennial and Gen Z community, I was honestly shocked to see the wide range of diversity represented within the community. Our group was comprised of people from different ethnic backgrounds and upbringings, which helped enrich our conversations with companies.

Our diverse lived experiences offer unique perspectives that aided companies that wanted to identify how to market their products to diverse audiences. Having our voices heard and recognized helped me realize the true value of multicultural and diverse perspectives.

It was both my honor and privilege to attend this conference and a big thanks to Mr. Bill Imada for making this opportunity possible. I’m proud to be a member of this group and I can’t wait to see what the future holds for everyone within it!


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