work it

Courtney Takabayashi
July 01, 2019

“What do you want to be when you grow up?” It’s a question we’ve all answered. 

But what happens when reality doesn’t live up to your childhood dreams? What do you do when the career you worked so hard to achieve is taken away or turns out to be disappointing? 

Is it possible to give up a good job and a stable income to reach for a new career and a happy ending? If you ask former attorney Junie Hayashi or former marketing specialist Lisa Bright, the answer is yes.

Against the law
Junie Hayashi knew that she wanted to make her parents happy. “For my generation, parents expected their kids to become doctors or lawyers. I chose law.” After earning an MBA and a law degree, Hayashi practiced law for nearly 17 years. “Dealing with contentious people could be challenging, but I liked giving advice and counsel to keep them out of trouble.” 

After almost 12 years at the Hawai‘i Department of the Attorney General, Hayashi realized she wasn’t happy. “I’d wake up every morning and do a sort of wellness check. I knew it was time for a change when I found myself hoping for a reason to stay home.” She loved her co-workers but found that the constant conflict created by the demands of the job were taking a toll.  

Hayashi consulted with friends, the ones who seemed to be happy with their jobs. “I knew a few librarians and they inspired me to go into library sciences.” When she talked to her husband about going back to school, he said, “If it makes you happy, do it.” With the support of her loved ones and the determination to make a positive change, she earned yet another degree, but this time it was for herself. 

Hayashi currently works as a public services librarian at Leeward Community College. “Going back to school was the best decision I ever made. Now when I wake up, there’s no need for wellness checks or excuses.” Through her role as a librarian, Hayashi helps students, faculty, and staff find the information they’re looking for. “I’m so lucky. I’m one of those people who looks forward to going to work.”

Figure of speech
For Lisa Bright, helping people came naturally. One of her first jobs was at a makeup counter at a department store. “I enjoyed teaching customers about their skin, how to care for themselves, and how to wear cosmetics.” 

She earned a marketing degree from Kapi‘olani Community College and worked at various companies in different capacities. Bright planned events at Hawaii Public Radio, ran public relations for the Chamber of Commerce of Hawaii, and also worked in finance and health care. 

But Bright found herself at a crossroads when she was laid off from her research and regulatory compliance job after nine years. “My husband had been laid off earlier and was pursuing a master’s degree so he could teach. He inspired me to go back to school instead looking for another job in the same field,” Bright remembers. She decided to pursue a degree in journalism with the goal of becoming a technical writer. She liked the idea of translating complex, technical ideas into understandable information. 

Bright decided to continue her education and get a master’s in communications so she could be a corporate trainer. “Since there aren’t any graduate classes in corporate training, I took a course in teaching. I really enjoyed it.”It’s no surprise that Bright now teaches speech at Kapi‘olani Community College. Her passion for helping people and giving them skills for success were always there. Bright notes, “I’ve been conveying information to others all my life. I like to do it in a way that’s enjoyable, fun, memorable, and as painless as possible.” And that’s what being a good teacher is all about.

You do you
According to the U.S. Department of Labor, Americans spend an average of 43.6% of their day working. So it’s important to love what you do. 

If you’re unhappy with your job, you’re not alone. estimates that 40% of U.S. employees are disengaged at work. So what can you do? Hayashi recommends volunteering at places you’re interested in. “That way, you’ll know if it’s a true passion or just a hobby.” 

You could also talk to people in fields that you’re interested in pursuing and ask them about the benefits and challenges of their job. Or you might try a personality or career test to assess your strengths, weaknesses, and interests. Self-reflection through journaling is also a great way to discover what kind of job that could make you happy.

Once you know what you want to do, Bright says persistence and grit are key. “If you want it, you gotta work for it. I encourage my students to never settle and never give up.”

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