The Women’s Network creates space for authentic networking

The Women's Network creates space for authentic networking

by Jadyn Brandt, News Editor

As a freshman at Syracuse University, Jamie Vinick found herself seated in a lecture hall afraid to raise her hand and ask questions of her lecturers that related directly to gender in the workplace. 

As a woman in a historically male-dominated field, like finance, Vinick said she felt she and other women would benefit from a space where they could discuss their experiences without judgement. During her sophomore year she began The Women’s Network (TWN), a nationwide, multi-campus organization that allows women to network with one another, and hosts professional events for its members.

“I attended an event in the business school and an executive was invited to speak about her career, and I couldn’t believe that not a single question was asked related to gender,” Vinick said. “I realized the topic of gender in the workplace is incredibly taboo and uncomfortable for a lot of people to discuss.”

TWN now has chapters on 42 college campuses, including San Diego State. 

Nicole Baaba, President of the SDSU chapter, said alongside workshops and guest speakers, TWN also provides opportunities to form connections with other students on campus.

“There’s really no boundaries,” Baaba said. “There’s no cost, it doesn’t matter what major you are, and I think that’s so important. Having a community and an organization that’s supporting one another, and giving opportunity and resources and so many things in professional life, personal life, new friendships. There’s newfound opportunities to form connections with people that are like minded with you, and at the core ambitious, which is what our organization sort of comes together on.” 

Vinick said TWN focuses mainly on what she calls authentic networking.

“I think for so many people networking is misconstrued and has a very negative connotation associated with the word,” she said. “People conflate networking with ‘how can I get something out of someone?’ ‘How can I use them to my own benefit?’. Authentically networking is a mutual game where there is a mutual understanding that both parties can benefit from meeting each other without feeling like they have to use or compete with each other.”

TWN, Vinick said, allows members to feel comfortable expressing all parts of themselves and tries to do-away with the idea that one must look or behave a certain way to succeed professionally.

“We are not here to tell anyone how to act, or behave or conform to a particular entrenched societal stereotype,” Vinick said. “What we’re here to do is provide resources, tools, and meaningful authentic connections that enable every single member to achieve success.”

She also said the goal of TWN is not teaching members how to act, but rather allowing them to feel comfortable in their expression of themselves.

“In many ways members feel more comfortable expressing their femininity, and can showcase that through the way they dress, the type of makeup they wear, how they speak and how they present themselves without feeling like they have to compromise their sense of self in order to continue to ascend and succeed professionally,” Vinick said. “But there are also other members who choose to go a different route, and that’s okay. And we’re not here to tell them which route to take.”

One success story from TWN is that of Ivana Ramirez, an intern for the organization, who was able to connect with the Senior Director of Communications at the United Nations Foundation and potentially secure an internship. 

“I think that really embodies how TWN really is what you want to make of it,” Ramirez said. “And if you decide to take that ambition that the network tries to teach you how to embrace so much for yourself, that really shows that you can get so many opportunities out of the network.”

Baaba said she also has experienced the benefits of TWN and was given the opportunity to moderate a discussion with the CFO of the San Diego Padres.

Like many on-campus organizations, TWN has gone virtual during the pandemic. Although the organization currently doesn’t meet in person, Vinick said it doesn’t diminish the experience. 

“I think it’s made this experience more accessible,” she said. “Especially for folks who had to work at certain hours and had a long commute and couldn’t make meetings for various reasons. Meetings are still intimate and engaging, and even more accessible now, and the experience has not been diminished.”

Vinick went on to say that the sense of community that stems from TWN is helping some navigate through this unprecedented time.

“This is such a vulnerable time that people are, more than ever, in search of community,” Vinick said. “People want to find other people to relate to and to feel a connection with and to feel like they’re not experiencing these feelings alone. I think it’s brought the community together in really beautiful ways.”

To learn more about TWN at SDSU, visit their Instagram page or the national organizations Facebook page,

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