Life as a Young Alum: Making Decisions and Embracing Change

As a senior, there seems to be a lot of pressure and often confusion surrounding what to do post-graduation. It can feel like you need to have life figured out. Talking to graduates, it’s clear that people take many different paths. Oftentimes, experiences and self reflection post college shape plans, desires, and decisions.

On Thursday, January 14th, the WCC hosted our first Women at Work winter series event – Life as a Young Alum: Making Decisions and Embracing Change. The goal of the event was to showcase the diverse approaches Stanford grads take to life post college and to share some ideas, inspiration, advice, and reassurance.

Young Alum Event Poster

We hosted three awesome Stanford Grads:

  • Lexi Butler ‘11 – CEO and Founder, Grown Up Truth and Program Manager at NetApp
  • Kristen Bautista ‘09, MA ‘10 – Software Engineer at
  • Miranda Mammen ‘14 – FosterEd Operations Manager at the National Center for Youth Law

Together, Lexi, Kristen, and Miranda brought a wide range of experiences and a ton of great advice for anyone nearing the transition to post-grad life. Here are a few key takeaways for you to consider!

View your job as a learning experience

Whether you love your first job or not, you can learn from it! You’ll learn what you like and what you don’t like, and you can use this to make informed decisions about your career. Your first job is not your career trajectory. You’ll have opportunities to meet people, network, and figure out what you want in future jobs. Additionally, you’re not expected to know how to do everything when you start a job.

Don’t feel pressure to find the “perfect” first job

For your first job, you might have to settle for something that only covers one dimension of what you ultimately want to do. You also might not know exactly what you want yet, and that’s okay. It all goes back to learning. You might end up changing careers, pursuing further education, readjusting your plan, or taking time off. It’s okay (in fact, it’s normal!) not to have it all figured out.

Post-grad life can be a tough transition but it has some perks

You have a lot more freedom to decide how to spend your time. You can build your own path or change direction. Don’t worry about what “makes sense” as long as you’re getting something out of whatever you’re doing. You also don’t have as many deadlines, and you know your schedule better. It’s easier to make plans and know when you’ll be free.

Communicate with family and friends

Your parents, friends, and other important people in your life can be great support, so stay in touch with them. Remembering that your parents are from a different generation and learning their story can help you sympathize and communicate clearly. It’s good to be clear to yourself and your parents about your decisions. Recognize the line between asking for advice and explaining your choices. Friends can form a great second family as well. Your college friends might move far away, but maintaining relationships is really valuable. Also, Stanford connections are really strong. Find other alums to connect with, and they can often be great professional and personal support.

Other advice for leaving the Stanford bubble

SU Post and craigslist are great ways to find housing, furniture, and other useful things.

Live with friends or roommates, and try to have a short commute.

Save your money. Having some extra resources is very useful if you need to take time off, change jobs, want to travel, or decide to start a family.

Have humility. You have a lot to learn.


If you’re interested in more thoughts, advice, and general musings on life after college, check out Lexi’s blog, Grown Up Truth at

Join us for more great Women at Work events this quarter. Check out the flier for more information!

WOMEN AT WORK flier.jpg

-Annie Kaufman – Women at Work Coordinator


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