Anant Sriram / Sun Staff Photographer

The Women's Network, which has chapters across the country, has joined Cornell's campus.

September 18, 2020

National Networking Organization Hopes to Connect Women on Campus to More Professional Opportunities

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There are over 1,200 clubs on Cornell’s campus, but Clare Sellers ’22 found a space for a new organization – one that is dedicated to professionally empowering and connecting women across campus.

The Women’s Network is a national networking organization that seeks to connect ambitious women on college campuses with one another and offer them opportunities for personal and professional growth. Originally founded at Syracuse University by Jamie Vinick, the network has expanded to 23 colleges and universities across the nation.

The organization’s presence on Cornell’s campus was cut short when the pandemic sent Cornell students home. Even so, the networked gathered interest, primarily through its social media presence. Under Sellers’ leadership, the group has channeled this interest into the fall semester.

As the semester continues, Sellers is looking forward to making up for lost time by filling the demand on campus for social and professional bonds.

“We had our first meeting in early March … and then we kind of immediately got sent off campus,” Sellers said. “So now back in this semester, it feels almost like a fresh start, but it also feels like we are able to be more anchored in the community. We entered this semester with a stronger footing.”

Recognizing that women harbor diverse ambitions, the network seeks to engage women from all academic and professional backgrounds. At the national level, the organization hosts a myriad of workshops, speakers and other events for its members in the 23 branches. As the Cornell branch continues to establish itself on campus, the organization plans to host workshops and meetings exclusive to the Cornell community.

“I think there is a benefit of having events with everyone welcome,” Sellers said. “But I think there are also benefits of having smaller chapter meetings with just the Cornell community — it is more intimate.”

Sellers wants to hold professional workshops led by Cornell professors, as well as a speakers series open for Cornell members. Just like the national organization, Sellers is committed to maintaining the organization’s multidisciplinary approach on Cornell’s campus.

“We are hoping to do a specific resume-building workshop with a STEM professor because it is very different to apply to a job in STEM than it is in communication, for example,” Sellers said. “We also want to open it up to topics and people that our community finds interesting.”

The emphasis on inclusivity transcends professional boundaries and the only requirement for membership is interest, according to Sellers. She said that members can decide their level of commitment — whether it just be attending an event or being a member of the board.

Although The Women’s Network is primarily a professional networking organization, Cornell’s branch offers its members the ability to form social connections across campus. As a transfer student herself, Sellers is looking forward to fostering the social aspect of the club.

“I was a transfer student last year, so I can’t imagine what it would be like being a transfer student or an incoming freshman in this space trying to make friends,” Sellers said. “We have been trying to reach out to new students because we think we can offer them the ability to meet other women around campus, which I would be in desperate need of if I were just on zoom.”

Even though the pandemic-induced shift to online interactions has complicated social connections, The Women’s Network has leveraged technology to expand its reach across campus. The organization is using the online space as an opportunity to connect people.

“People are super busy — it’s understandable that people may not want to walk to the Ag Quad at 8 at night, but people are much more willing to hop on a Zoom call for a bit,” Sellers said. “We can be meeting new people even though we aren’t going to class and going to the library to socialize.”