Career Connection

Time to shake things up

“Ikigai,” the Japanese notion of being truly fulfilled and how a person’s work relates to their purpose, spurred former paralegal Tracy Swaim to seek more. Conversations with a fraud investigator excited her about entering the field. She earned her CFE and now works in a job that checks all the boxes for her: mission, passion, vocation and profession.



Ten years into my paralegal career, 5,000 miles away from my hometown, and with a spouse on deployment somewhere in the middle of the Pacific, I decided things were too quiet. It was time to shake things up.

I’d been working in the legal department of a small bank in Hawaii in a fantastic job. But it didn’t seem to be pushing the right buttons for me anymore. One day, I was presented with a bankruptcy petition that didn’t look quite right. I saw that it had all the markers of bankruptcy fraud. I alerted the attorney to whom I reported and wrote an internal report for the fraud department to review. I outlined my suspicions, attached the petition and the appropriate account numbers to the report and moved along with my bankruptcy file. I had no idea where this would eventually lead me and how different things were going to be a few months later.

Talking with an anti-fraud pro

The following morning, a fraud investigator at the bank found me at my desk to ask me some questions about the bankruptcy. After a great conversation, she asked me if I had done this before. Done what? I had never written a fraud report, but I had plenty of experience with briefs and case notes. Did I really do a good job on it?

Either by coincidence or some guiding hand, the universe placed a blog post into my feed reader that evening about questions to ask yourself if you’re looking for your dream job. I gave the article the side-eye (how did it know I was unfulfilled at work?) and almost went right past it. The questions, as it turns out, are fairly simple: What did you enjoy writing papers about in school? What do you find yourself talking about frequently, reading books about, and what gets you fired up? The answers to a lot of those questions, for me, was (and still are) financial crimes, victim advocacy and consumer fraud prevention. The stars were starting to line up, and I had a lot of thinking to do. 


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