Women and the Power of Networks-Leveraging Professional and Community Organizations

At our core, we are social beings who rely on each other to survive and thrive, yet our society is driven by, and values, independence and self-sufficiency. As a fiercely independent woman, I’ve resisted any circumstance where my ability to be self-sufficient and self-directed might be challenged, and yet, I understand how important it is to have a strong network of women to support the person you are, and the person you are becoming; both personally and professionally.

It wasn’t until I moved to a small southwestern Michigan town, knowing not a single soul, that I stumbled upon a woman’s organization that would change my view. Late one night, driven by loneliness and disconnect in this new town, I began researching the internet for anything that might be at the intersection of supporting women and girls, growth and development, and also integrated nature and the outdoors. I was unemployed at the time and likely looking for job opportunities, and rather than unearthing prospective employment, I discovered an organization called the Junior League. I had no idea who, or what, they were. Compelled by their mission to “promote voluntarism, develop the potential of women and improve the community through the effective action and leadership of trained volunteers,” I reached out to learn more.

What began as a simple inquiry into this league of women, evolved into three years of personal and professional development honed through targeted training, and learning how to use our collective talents and personalities to identify and address local issues. In the process, I formed friendships, built connections to community partners, and expanded my skills and knowledge on community organizing and leadership development, all of which prepared me for the job I eventually landed in the local school district.

There is power in community, in connecting with other women, and finding our tribe. Nearly every industry has a professional association designed to support your growth in the midst of the collective; consider searching LinkedIn (Professional) Groups, or the resources below to identify networks that might fit your interests and goals.



By Carolyn Sommers
Carolyn Sommers Associate Director, Serves Undergraduate CAHSS & Exploring Students