I Love My Job: A Career Change Interview with Jacky Hayward

You don't have to invent your own job to love what you do. I'm thrilled to introduce you to a few women who found happiness, pride, and meaning after changing industries or scrapping their degrees. So many of us feel stuck in the spaces we "committed to" when we were younger. This series shines a light on the women who bravely took a leap into another industry, trade, or craft than they'd paid dues into. If they ran in another direction, so can you.

Editor's Note: Funny enough, Jacky and I never worked together at Google (though we tried!). We met through our husbands who worked at the same publishing company in San Francisco. I've always admired Jacky and her husband's knack for urban homesteading and the time they're able to dedicate to their passion projects. This interview shines a light on how Jacky views work and life as separate things, which I must admit is a refreshing point of view these days.


What industry do you work in and what were you doing before?
I work in tech and have for 10 years. I made a career pivot from the Arts non profit sector around the 2009 recession. I currently work at Google as a Program Manager for Google Cloud. 

Did you ever imagine you'd be working in tech?
Nope! I studied Art History and Photography in college and had everything all set for applications to PhD programs in Art History, including a three years start of a career in the arts. In college, I used to say to myself, and to pretty much anyone, that I "wasn't technical", but I think this was just early unconscious bias holding me back. 

What was the catalyst or turning point in your career pivot?
There were several! I was laid off from not one, or two, but THREE arts non profit jobs in a period of a year and a half leading up to the 2009 recession. Funding for my roles kept running out as the recession loomed and by the third time it happened, I realized I was spending more time searching for work than helping advance the arts. I recognized around this time that I wanted a job that worked around my life rather than my life working around my job. I also realized that I was far more resilient and resourceful than I thought possible and challenged that long held personal belief that I wasn't technically minded. Three months after the stock market crash of September 16, 2008— and only a few days after I had found out I was going to be laid off for the third time at the end of the year— I was interviewing at a startup where I would eventually be focusing on web content development.  

What do you love about your current job?
I love the people I work with and I love the work I do helping to make Google Cloud Docs continually improve. Google, my team, and my manager especially, have been incredibly flexible and understanding of my needs as a working parent. My husband and I welcomed twins this August, and coming back to Google has been amazing! Not only have I had a flexible schedule but my manager has made sure I'm able to lean in the way I need and want to.

Twins! Incredible. Congrats, and what a game-changer!

Are there days you wish you were doing something different? If so, what would you be doing?

Don't we all believe the grass is always greener? I do dream about what I will do in retirement and I would love to spend more time in my garden, have a bee hive, and raise chickens. However, all these are my personal passions and when I work in what I'm personally passionate about, it becomes my job rather than something I'm deciding to spend my time doing. And then I'm no longer able to glean the joy I did. This, however, isn't true for everyone. For some, finding out how to do what you love does mean "you'll never work a day in your life", that's just not me and that's totally cool :) 

Indulge us in a piece of advice for someone who's struggling to find a job they love.
Spend time developing your "elevator pitch" of what you want in your next job. Reach out to your network and meet folks in roles related to what you want to do and talk to them about what you're looking for. There may be roles coming up that aren't posted yet or you may spur an idea in their head of a new direction— or they might just know the perfect person for you to talk to next. If you have a clear goal in mind, it's a lot easier to figure out how to get there. I once ended up with a job offer that started with a conversation with a stranger on a bus (and several more with her colleagues), and it's all because I knew what I was looking for. 

Sound advice. Thank you, Jacky. XO

Rachel MelbyComment