“Speed Networking Workshop”

By, Angel Pacheco

With fog horns signaling the introduction of a new ice breaker —

questions like “what are your two most used emojis?” — the Santa Barbara Women in STEM Speed Networking Workshop Sept. 26 felt like it was far from the typical industry meet and greet.


The free event at Sonos’ Santa Barbara campus brought together more than 100 professionals — male and female — from many disciplines and backgrounds, meaning it was likely a welcome change of pace.

The slew of casual questions and random groupings meant the evening was more meaningful than munching on some snacks with the coworkers you came with, as well as welcoming for those who popped in solo. Instead, attendees temporarily paired with a stranger -- a local grad student, a tech veteran, perhaps a recruiter -- and walked away a LinkedIn contact richer, maybe even with a job interview.

Attendees also heard from speaker Jessica Kinnahan, of Dudek, about making the professional contacts that can change your career when you least expect it.


This marked Women in Stem's second networking event. C'est Cheese Santa Barbara generously fueled the event with some amazing hors d'ouvres and Sonos offered up its beautiful Chapala Street space.

Santa Barbara Women in STEM is committed to empowering women and girls to expand their professional goals and interests in the STEM community. Interested in the next gathering? Follow us on Instagram, or sign up for our email list here.

Create & Cultivate x Aerie REALtreat


Although I was immediately stoked to get a spot in this event, I also put on my favorite pants and new favorite flame Vans for max confidence because I was:

a) a little bit nervous about going by myself

b) a little bit cynical about what I was getting myself into: “fireside chats,” “intention setting” and “chakra readings,” a “fitness class” under which the description was 15 minutes of stretching… and many of you know that I consider myself more on the practical (boring??) side and tend to roll my eyes a bit at these kinds of activities.

BUT my excitement took over so I showed up! And I loved it all. Here’s the debrief.


I drove down early Saturday morning to downtown LA with no idea what to expect, and one hundred percent solo (spoiler: not for long!).

At the entrance I found a crew of energetic girls in “FEMME” t-shirts ready to hand me a gift bag. Good start, because like everyone else I know, I love some free cute swag (I’m always ready to incorporate more scrunchies into my life). With coffee in one hand and a carrot-cake-flavored smoothie in the other, I met friend #1, who took one look at me and asked (stated) “You’re here alone too?” Throughout the day, we talked to so many amazing ladies, listened to some very cool speakers, and made more friends along the way.


The swag:

There was a lot of free stuff on top of all of the coffee, lunch, and fancy snacks – like Biossance skincare samples, personalized canvas pouches, and air plants (with letter stamps for the pots, and because I’m creative I put “Z” all over mine… meanwhile other people were cute and stamped out things like “You Grow Girl”).

There was a station for writing friend love letter cards – I wrote one to my girl Jenna and still haven’t given it to her (hi, Jenna!). I got my hair braided by a GlamSquad stylist at the Braid Bar, which was something I never knew I needed. And beautiful flowery drinks from KetelOne Botanicals (a great opportunity for some new-friend fake-candid pics).

Before diving into the speakers, I want to first address something that was at first cringe-worthy but then really crucial to my mindset for the day. It was when Cleo Wade asked us to write (and share) intentions for the day or week or year. My intention for the day was:

“Today, I will be open to new experiences that I would have been cynical about before.”

I didn’t share mine with the 200 other people there, but others did! Intentions about loving yourself, making career moves, making new friends, standing up for others. Very powerful and, dare I say, *intentional* start to the day.

The ladies who spoke at the event are all AerieReal role models – diverse, opinionated, and totally badass.

The program included individual talks, interviews, and panels featuring: Iskra Lawrence (model), Cleo Wade (poet and author), Aly Raisman (gold-medal gymnast and advocate), Jess Weiner (CEO and culture expert), Jameela Jamil (entertainer and activist), Jenna Kutcher (businesswoman of all kinds), Busy Philipps (actor and activist), and Jaclyn Johnson (CEO).

Major themes:

  • Power - Standing up for yourself, doing what’s right for you, and not comparing yourself to others

  • Jenna talked about how her curated Instagram pics are a way to draw people in so they engage with her stories and thoughts on women’s issues, family, business, and money.

  • Aly spoke about the trauma of speaking out on sexual abuse. People come up to her on the street with their own traumatic stories in graphic detail, triggering her own anxiety. To cope, she has to be straightforward about how it affects her. She also loves meditation and led a guided meditation at the event. “I noticed you were smiling during the meditation.” (Aly to me)

  • "My mission is to build a world where everyone knows their real power.” (Iskra)

  • “If you know what your hell no’s are and your hell yes’s are it is really easy to make decisions.” (Cleo)

  • "Never be afraid to ask for what you want or what you need." (Aly)

  • “This is a process, it’s not a product. The change that we seek is internal before it manifests externally.” (Jess)

  • “I’m so passionate about encouraging women to build a true brand that is based on the fact that you are a multi-passionate human. You don’t have to pick a lane and stay in it.” (Jenna)

  • “It is really important to truly understand that your path, your journey to success is not the same as anyone sitting next to you. Even if on paper you are the same, you have fundamentally different life experiences to offer and your journey will be different.” (Busy)

  • Money - …and how women should make more of it

  • Jenna addressed how money shouldn’t be a taboo or dirty topic, and that having successful businesses and making money has meant she gets to work on things that have the most impact. It’s given her true freedom in her life to do the work (and non-work) things she truly loves. 

  • “The average millionaire has seven revenue streams. So I created eight.” (Jenna)

  • Beauty Standards - the psychological tolls they’ve taken, and how we move forward

  • Jameela’s Instagram account @i_weigh is really powerful, turning the narrative from body talk to “I weigh: financial independence, friend, feminist, movie lover, good cook, child of immigrants, anxiety, explorer, empathy…” and so on. SO COOL

  • Privilege - and how important it is to stand up for others

  • You’ve probably seen Busy’s hashtag #youknowme. Busy has recently used her reach to advocate for healthcare and abortion access, support nonprofits, and even go speak to the House Judiciary Committee a couple weeks ago.

  • “I’m a rich white lady. I will always be able to get an abortion.” (Busy)

  • “It’s very important that we don’t just stick up for our own, but that we stand up for each other.” (Jameela)