Spotlight on Alums: Kimi Kaneshina ’20 on Work-Life Balance

Photograph of Kimi Kaneshina '20 standing on the beach.

According to Kimi Kaneshina ’20, “Entering the job market during the pandemic was a difficult feat.” However, she took active steps to prevent the pressure of job searching during lockdowns from taking over her life.

“I was fortunate enough to stay at home while I balanced my job search,” she says. “My family wasn’t greatly affected by the pandemic, so being locked in for the first few months felt quite freeing. I was able to do whatever I wanted with my time without being directly tied to a job or even to society. I could truly do what I loved, which at the time was gardening and running.”

Because she had the opportunity to attend to her personal well-being while pursuing the next step in her career, Kaneshina was able to prioritize work-life balance. For Kaneshina, this priority was far from new. “My experience with the need for work-life balance came many years before I entered the workforce. In fact, I wrote one of my Scripps College personal statements on how I experienced burnout in high school and quickly realized that I couldn’t ‘do it all,’” she says.

While searching for a full-time job, Kaneshina worked a series of different internships, sometimes more than one at the same time. The flexibility of this schedule allowed her to continue balancing work with other priorities as she had always tried to do.

Now, years later, Kaneshina still finds that those values ring true.  “When I landed my first full-time role in 2021, I applied the approach I had built throughout high school and the pandemic to my postgraduate career,” she says. “I’ve always had the understanding that what you do doesn’t define who you are, and that’s how I approached my job. I excelled in work, but still made sure to make time for things that I valued and things that were important to me, such as spending time with friends and family and hosting a podcast with two friends from Scripps.”

In a society where the instant nature and omnipresence of digital communication methods can make it difficult for workers to disentangle their personal time from the workplace, it’s become especially vital to develop strategies for preventing burnout. While the increased prevalence of remote work in many fields has been a boon for workers able to access it, it has also narrowed the gap between work and home. The line between personal time and work hours can become blurred, leading to stress.

Kaneshina advocates for keeping the two separate and not defining oneself in terms of work. “When I got laid off a year ago, it was apparent to me how much my work-life balance lifestyle paid off,” she says. “I had another purpose and a greater understanding of who I was outside of my job, so I didn’t feel like I lost a part of myself. I just felt like I lost a job, and I knew I could find the next one.”

When asked what advice she might give to new graduates who are seeking the best ways to further their careers while also keeping themselves balanced, Kaneshina has two main points. Firstly: “Leverage the alum network of The Claremont Colleges. Most of my roles have come through my college network, including my current new job! Claremont grads are always willing to help each other. Do some LinkedIn searching and conduct some informational interviews.”

Secondly: “Don’t be afraid to make changes. Use your youth and existing experience as an advantage. At my first full-time job, I was encouraged to give feedback on how the team did things, because I had a fresh pair of eyes. Through this, I saw opportunities in the company to create cultural change.”

Kaneshina also advises new graduates in general not to spend too much time waiting if they see an opportunity for advancement. “I left my first full-time job after working at the company for just a little over a year. Although I loved working there, they simply couldn’t offer me a new role. I wanted to transition from marketing to product management and decided there would be no harm in interviewing for a PM role. I’m on the other side of that decision now, and the benefits have been clear.”