The logo for The Women’s Network is a network connecting women to each other in many fields and industries. The organization opened a chapter on the Stony Brook Campus. PHOTO CREDIT: THE WOMEN”S NETWORK

The Women’s Network, a national organization dedicated to connecting and supporting ambitious women, will launch a new chapter as a club at Stony Brook University this fall semester. 

Through resume workshops, networking events and guest speakers, The Women’s Network strives to create a community where women support women in their desire to achieve professional success. What started as a small organization at Syracuse University in 2017, has now expanded to a total of 142 chapters nationwide with 30,000 members. 

Culturally, the word ambition has negative connotations when describing women, often synonymous with aggressive, bossy or selfish. In one study, researchers from the National Bureau of Economic Research investigated whether single women tend to shy away from career-enhancing actions to avoid signaling undesirable personality traits to potential male partners. They found that three-quarters of single females in an elite U.S. MBA program reported avoiding actions that made them look “too ambitious, assertive or pushy.” The network is committed to changing this stereotype and encouraging women to be unashamed in their ambition to succeed while supportive of those around them.

Jamie Vinick, the founder of The Women’s Network, embodies the ambition her organization teaches. During her freshman year at Syracuse University, Vinick attended a lecture by a powerful female banking executive. She was disappointed to hear no questions on what it was like to ascend the corporate ladder in a male-dominated field. In a room with hundreds of men, Vinick felt intimidated calling attention to gender issues. 

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“What I realized is that the topic of gender in the workplace is not discussed in a classroom environment and that there was this void in conversation, especially at a collegiate level,” Vinick said. 

Vinick returned to her dorm that night and began drafting ideas for an organization that would fill that void on campus. 

“So much good has come out of the organization for our members,” Vinick said. “People have changed their majors, found their social circles and friends, found and landed jobs and internships, networked with really high achieving powerful women across many industries, found mentors and mentees, built more confidence and so on.”

Membership is free and by joining the chapter, Stony Brook women and non-binary students have the opportunity to attend lectures by women in leadership while discussing topics such as imposter syndrome and salary negotiation. The chapter will also hold networking trips, resume and LinkedIn workshops, alumni receptions and book club meetings. 

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Sabera Hossian, a junior at Stony Brook University studying globalization and international relations, will be joining the new campus chapter this fall. She discovered The Women’s Network after they reached out to her on social media.

“What piqued my interest was that they let you explore [career] fields that you never would have thought of before,” Hossian said. “That’s what made me submit my application because I like exploring new things and I’m still not 100% sure that I want to do medicine, or what kind of medicine, so this is a good opportunity for me to figure that out.”

Vinick emphasized that the network is not major specific and is open to women of all backgrounds, majors and interests. 

“There’s a lot of value in meeting people outside your future career, not just within,” Vinick said. “There are plenty of opportunities to connect with women in your major, there aren’t as many to do so outside of it,” 

Vinick explained how approximately one-fourth of The Women’s Network is composed of STEM majors. 

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“People find this to be shocking because STEM students traditionally are not taught or conditioned on how to network,” Vinick said. “It’s called the Business School students’ thing to do, and it couldn’t be further from the truth.”

Networking is another word The Women’s Network has redefined for their members. 

“Networking is not using someone to get ahead, it’s not valuing quantity over quality, it’s actually the reverse — It’s developing meaningful, genuine, authentic connections with individuals,” Vinick said. 

The Women’s Network recently launched a podcast called “Redefining Ambition” that highlights the experiences of women in leadership roles and their journeys to get there. 

Vinick said they hope to inspire listeners, especially for the demographics of 18 to 24-year-olds, to act on their ambition and feel assured that it’s okay not to have it all figured out.

Previous guest speakers on the podcast come from a wide range of industries but a common thread Vinick has seen is that their careers resemble a zig zag path, not a straight line.

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“There’s a lot of pressure in college to feel like you have to know exactly what you want to do for the entirety of your career,” Vinick said. “We are very pro career exploration in the network and it’s a great thing to have many passions and interests.”

Lara Janosz has been a member of The Women’s Network since they launched a chapter on her campus at the University of Michigan. Inspired by their mission, Janosz has gone from a member of her chapter to a recruiting intern for the national network. 

“Between February and now, just by being in this network, it’s completely transformed how I connect with people, how I network, how I build my resume, how I work my LinkedIn,” Janosz said. “It’s an organization that will always be really close to my heart because of what it’s done for me and what I know it’s doing for so many other members as well.”

To join The Women’s Network chapter at Stony Brook University, fill out the membership form here.

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