Social Justice and Your Career

Many of us are engaged in social justice issues on campus and want to continue to engage with these issues in the future. Last week, we hosted “Social Justice and Your Career” to explore what it means to use your career as a platform for social justice work.

We hosted three incredible speakers…

Natalie Bridgeman Fields, Founder and Executive Director of Accountability Counsel

Annie Lee, Equal Justice Works Fellow at the National Center for Youth Law

Kathy Martinez, Associate Director at Stanford Diversity and First-Gen Office

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Our panelists represented a variety of social justice interests – education, poverty, racial justice, representation, environmental justice, etc. – and it was clear that they translated their passion into meaningful work. While discussing their careers, they also shared their insight into how to build a sustainable social justice career.

Social justice work has many rewards

Our panelists defined social justice as respecting people’s dignity and shifting power dynamics. This means challenging the status quo and supporting greater representation for people of all backgrounds. They recommend being true to ourselves and our own passions throughout our career. We should keep social justice issues at the forefront of our minds.

It’s truly awesome to work on something you feel passionate about and to feel like your work is meaningful and important. When you engage closely with the communities you serve, you can see the direct effects of your work. Working on causes that directly impact people’s lives is one of the greatest rewards of social justice careers.

Social justice work can be challenging

Our panelists emphasized that doing effective social justice work requires understanding and engaging with the communities we serve. Working closely with challenging issues can also be frustrating, saddening, or cause guilt when we don’t live up to our goals.

There can be other challenges to social justice careers as well. Society may not appear to value our work as much as it’s worth. Our guests mentioned that the pay in social justice roles is often low. In order to thrive and be as effective as possible, it’s important to balance selflessness with knowing our worth. Sometimes we have to make compromises or transitions throughout our career to balance our needs and goals.

Self care is key!

After discussing the rewards and challenges of social justice work, we started talking about how to take care of ourselves while going through the various stages of our careers. With a lot of challenging and stressful things going on in the world, we have to take care of ourselves in order to be ready to make a broader impact. Self care is often challenging, but it’s incredibly important.

Self care takes a lot of different forms, and you can find what works for you! For some people, self care means exercise, meditation, or spending time with friends. We have to find a balance between work, social justice engagement, and other aspects of life. A community and support system are also crucial! There are a lot of people with similar interests and experiences, so tap into this network.

There are many ways to incorporate social justice into our life!

Social justice issues permeate every part of society. It is important to be intentional with our work and the way it influences those around us.

It’s also important to recognize that a lot of learning will also happen throughout your career. Sometimes we have to do trial by error and learn from our mistakes. We might not find the perfect balance right away. Everything we do can be a step towards reaching a goal, as long as we are learning. There’s no clear path forward— it is important to have a long-term plan and a set of values, while still being flexible.

Join us in bringing social justice into our life paths! Engage others in the conversations. Look around at the tables you’re sitting in. Who’s there? Who’s not? How can we bring underrepresented people to the table?

Posted by Annie and Belce

Beyond the Professional Schools: Finding the Graduate Program for You

Often, when students discuss graduate school options, they tend to focus on medicine, law or business schools. While these options can be great for many students, there are numerous other graduate school programs that can lead to very enriching career opportunities. Last week, we hosted three phenomenal speakers for Beyond the Professional Schools: Finding the Graduate Program for you!

Mijiza Maláne Sanchez, MPA, Ed.D – Assistant Dean, Office of Medical Student Affairs at Stanford Medicine

Isela Garcia White, LCSW – Therapist at Counseling and Psychological Services

Kathy Rushmore, MS – Business Operations Program Manager at Facebook


Our speakers shared a lot of great advice for anyone considering further education!

There are lots of possibilities out there. Ask questions to learn more.

Talking to professors, classmates, friends, mentors, and professionals can help you learn more about the options available and broaden your perspectives. Talk to people to learn more about what your future job or school experience could look like. It’s okay, and very rewarding, to ask questions.

Seek out resources to help you make informed decisions.

Before you spend money and time on graduate school, you want to be mindful about your choices. Do your research. Reach out to administrators, financial advisors, and current students to get an idea of what graduate school life looks like at the schools you’re interested in. Consider the program content, cost, loans, location, and structure. This can help you find something that works with your schedule, lifestyle, and financial needs.

Self care is key.

Prioritize your health and wellbeing. Take time to relax, enjoy life, and participate in the other aspects of life that matter to you. You’ll always have more time to work on your thesis or take classes, even if it means altering your plan. Setting goals is good, but it’s also important to adapt to life as it goes. Reach out for help when you need it and get a good therapist. Don’t take academic criticism personally and find ways to support yourself.

Have faith in your process.

There’s no way to know now what your life will look like in the future. Try not to put too much pressure on yourself about every decision. Trust that you will walk your path and create your way.

Define success on your own terms.

Engage in self-reflection and think about what will make you happy. Try to separate that from others’ opinions about your potential path. Additionally, you’ll grow and learn a lot about yourself in graduate school. Learning and growing along the way is incredibly valuable.

Graduate school is different from undergrad.

Grad programs are generally much smaller and more focused. At this point, you’re really specializing and finding your niche. It’s rewarding to be in an environment where everyone is passionate about similar topics. You’re also treated as much more of a professional rather than a student.

A few other takeaways:

Learning is a lifelong process. You will learn many of your skills on the job, and you’ll learn from your job, school, and life experiences all along the way.

Many paths are not linear. Life experiences along the way are valuable.

You can use graduate school as a way to travel. Going to new places can help you develop new perspectives and grow as a person.

-Posted by Annie

The Art of Negotiation Event Recap

Yesterday, we hosted Ahmad Wright, from BEAM, Stanford Career Education. He shared with us valuable techniques in the Art of Negotiation.


Negotiating can feel unnatural at first, but once you learn Ahmad’s key tips, you can do it too!

Express Tips:

  • Do not negotiate until you have an offer.
  • Your salary does not equal your worth.
  • Most companies have a range for each position.
  • Leverage is key in the negotiation process.
  • Negotiation has long-term benefits. Future raises and salaries are often based on past salaries.
  • If a company has no room to negotiate, they should tell you this. The expectation is that negotiation is normal.
  • 2-10% of your salary is the normal range of negotiation.

If you would like to learn more about specific techniques you can use, here is a summary of what Ahmad shared with us.

Before you begin negotiation, it’s important to be thoughtful and prepared for your conversation with your potential employer. This requires a few steps.

  • Reflection – Evaluate all of the factors affecting your future job experience and think about which are most important to you. All of these can be negotiated:
  • Duties – What skills will you build in your new job?
  • Industry – In the future, you might be applying for another job and people might care where you have experience. Company, brand, and name recognition matter in some industries.
  • Job Title – Your job title communicates information to others, and could affect your chances of getting an interview in the future. For example, analyst implies that you work with data and director implies that you manage other employees.
  • Location/commute – Whether or not you mind long commutes, transportation and cost of living have dollar values that you should consider when evaluating salary.
  • Supervisor/work atmosphere
  • Benefits
  • Preparation
  • What is the average salary for this position at this company/in this area? Glassdoor and other websites can be useful to garnering this information.
  • What is the cost of living in this area? Something to keep in mind while negotiating for the salary.
  • Keep three key numbers in mind. Know your dream outcome, what you’d be happy with, and your minimum. Keep these numbers to yourself and use them as reference values throughout the process.

When your potential employer offers you a job, it’s best to say you need to sleep on it, and then you can come back to the table ready to negotiate. This shows that you’re thoughtful and also gives you time to prepare. Oftentimes, employers ask early what your desired salary is. It’s better to respond with “what is the range for this position?” and then say you’re comfortable with the range. Then you can come back and negotiate for the higher end of the range or any other job factors you care about.

In order to keep leverage throughout the negotiation process, be thoughtful with your  responses to employer questions, such as:

  • Why do you want this job? Never say you love it so much you’d do it for free. It’s better to explain why this job is a great fit for you and you for it.
  • Why are you leaving your old job? Don’t say you hate your old job – this makes you seem desperate. Stay positive.
  • Are you interviewing/entertaining other offers? When your employer asks you this, they’re assessing the level of risk if they wait to give you an offer. If you let them know that you are considering others, they might offer to match or top other offers. If you aren’t interviewing elsewhere, you can say that you want to keep it private or are considering other options even if you just submitted a resume. Make sure you’re truthful and consistent.
  • How qualified are you? Uniquely! Emphasize the skills you have in addition to those required on the job description.

Once you get to the negotiation conversation, keep these things in mind.

  • “Let’s work together.” This is not an adversarial relationship. You’re talking with your future employer and want everyone to be happy with the arrangement. You can see it as a problem of balance that you can work together to solve. Show that you’re excited and receptive but you want it to be fair and make sense for you to take the job. Imply that there’s some uncertainty and ask what they can do to make the decision more clear cut for you.
  • What can be negotiated? Salary, signing bonus, benefits (healthcare, vacation, gym, etc), duties, title, etc. Quantify these things for yourself and have a sense of what they’re worth to you.
  • You can build leverage even if you feel like you don’t have any.
  • You’re leaving a familiar work environment and your friends there.  
  • You’re happy in your current job so leaving is a risk.
  • Your assessed worth – you did research and you know your value.
  • Time is on your side. Time is risky to recruiters because you could change your mind or get other offers.

Once your recruiter agrees to what you negotiated, then it’s time to accept the job offer.  

Keep these tips in mind as you approach your next job!

Also, check out our future Women at Work Events coming up in February!


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!

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-Annie Kaufman – Women at Work Coordinator

Event Recap: Demystifying Midwifery: rethinking healthcare careers and birth options

This Tuesday, we had our first Women at Work event! Two practicing midwives, Sage Bearman, CNM, WHNP and Faith Gibson, LM, CPM spoke about their career paths and experiences as midwives. They shared their passion and explained why midwifery can be a great profession and healthcare option!

See our wonderful poster below!
Demystifying Midwifery - small

Until a year ago, I had barely heard of midwifery. I got curious about it after I started watching the BBC show Call the Midwife (highly recommended!).
Once I spent time talking to midwives and learning more, I found an incredibly passionate community with an inspiring and individual-centered model of care. Midwives view birth as a natural and healthy experience. They are highly trained healthcare providers that attend about 10% of births in the US, provide prenatal care, work with clients of all genders, and care for many diverse health needs.

There are multiple different types of midwifery certification programs. Some midwives train through master’s programs in nursing schools, while others train through apprenticeship or out of hospital certification programs. Learn more at the American College of Nurse Midwifery and the Midwives Alliance of North America.

Consistent among all midwives is a model of care that empowers women to shape their pregnancy experience and honors the normalcy of birth.

This plays out through much lower intervention rates for midwife attended deliveries than the US average. For example, in some California hospitals, doctors perform C-sections at five times the World Health Organization recommended rate. Two reasons for this are that C-sections bring in more healthcare dollars from insurance companies and are often more convenient for doctors. Even though C-sections can be lifesaving procedures for women who develop complications during birth, they carry unnecessary risks for healthy low-risk mothers and babies.

While many regions in the US have a long way to go to better support midwives and women, some hospitals such as San Francisco General have made great progress towards this goal. The New York Times published an engaging article detailing how SF General keeps their C-section rate low. Read about it here. Stanford Hospital used to have midwives, but stopped the practice in 2003 due to “lack of profit.” 

Midwives tend to practice in a very holistic and community-driven model of care. Whether or not you’ve considered midwifery before, midwifery can be a great career path and/or health career option!


Women at Work Program Coordinator