Connecting Professional Women at Colgate: The Women’s Network


The Colgate University chapter of The Women’s Network connects ambitious students with like-minded peers and professionals in their desired fields. This space aims to help women feel empowered while also discussing the obstacles that they face when entering the workforce. 

With chapters at almost 150 colleges across the U.S. and Canada, The Women’s Network is the largest collegiate women’s networking organization in the United States. These chapters provide an extensive community to facilitate contacts and teach skills, with the purpose of helping women achieve professional success.

Junior and Lead Ambassador Maddie Chernavsky explained the aim of The Women’s Network. 

“It’s to provide a network for women,” Chernavsky said. “Networking creates a big difference when it comes to the job market, whatever career you decide to pursue, so it’s really nice to have an outlet and connect people to different careers.”

The Colgate chapter of The Women’s Network was founded in 2021 by current senior Parna Shakouri and currently has 141 members and 10 students on their leadership board, which meets every week to plan events and discuss outreach. Senior and president Mehnaz Tabassum explained why she was initially drawn to the organization. 

“My academic and professional interests are all in male-dominated fields, and when I started networking for internships in the summer before my junior year, I realized I could seldom find women to reach out to on LinkedIn,” Tabassum said. “This issue made me realize how important it is to create networking opportunities for women. “I love The Women’s Network mission because it was created to bridge this gap.” 

Apart from serving as a physical community, the organization offers guidance on the specific challenges women face in navigating career paths and securing leadership roles. Chernavsky said she joined The Women’s Network because of the inherent difficulties in achieving her career goals as a woman in traditionally male-dominated spaces. 

“I joined because I’m someone who wants to pursue a career in medicine, and that’s a very male-dominated field,” Chernavsky explained. “So, I wanted more of an outlet and more resources to expand my network.” 

Sophomore and Vice President of Marketing Alia Tuiolosega echoed Chernavsky’s desire to receive support in overcoming gender-related obstacles to career success.  

“Knowing that other women around me also experience feelings of imposter syndrome has been validating, and learning from each other as to how to navigate male-dominated spaces has been empowering,” Tuiolosega said. 

The Women’s Network at Colgate hosts or participates in five to six networking events every semester. A recent event was a free and non-competitive virtual career fair where Colgate students could connect with representatives from various high-profile international companies, attend career webinars and roundtables and apply directly for internships through The Women’s Network. 

The Colgate chapter was also responsible for organizing a LinkedIn workshop event with The Women’s Network CEO Jamie Vinick last semester attended by chapters and individual female college students across the country. Chernavsky stressed the benefits of attending these events, which are open to all interested students, whether or not they are members of the organization. 

“Whether it’s networking just on campus with your peers, or with someone who works here or outside of the school, it’s always just building community,” Chernavsky said. 

What Chernavsky ultimately finds most valuable about The Women’s Network is this community of women that she has been able to form through the organization. 

“It gave me an outlet to meet more people — people that I probably wouldn’t have met if I wasn’t involved in the club, and not just outside of campus but within,” Chernavsky said. “It just provided a greater network of people that I’ve been talking to. It just gives you more people to rely on and have more resources.”

Tuiolosega also summed up her gratitude for the immense support extended to her by the organization. 

“Being a part of a space focused on celebrating and cultivating women’s successes both created for and by women has been such a special, generative experience,” Tuiolosega said. “As a member and board member of The Women’s Network, I have gained such invaluable support from my fellow members and have been afforded amazing opportunities towards my personal and professional growth. In addition to gaining access to such valuable professional and networking opportunities, The Women’s Network has also helped me feel more comfortable in my own skin.”