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by SixFigureStart | January 16, 2009


A former boss of mine got laid off mid-last year after the company’s headquarters decided to move ship to New York. She was already commuting from three states away on a weekly basis and the thought of a further commute didn’t make sense to her. While her severance package was better than average, she confessed that she wasn’t ready to retire just yet. As she began an aggressive job search, it became quickly apparent that her age and extensive experience was working against her. “Companies feel they’d have to pay me more because of my experience when they can get recent grads to do the same thing for much less,” she says. She is in her mid-fifties.

After a couple of months went by with few interviews but no follow-ups, she decided it was time for a breather and a plan for the New Year. What were her options? A few: 1) Change industries and job hunt for a new career track; 2) Take an accelerated teaching course and become a special-needs teacher, something she has always wanted to pursue; 3) Go back to school to be trained for a more secure career. The last option has been on top of the list for many laid off workers. With few jobs, what other time could be better to be a student?

Come 2009, she has started her paralegal classes.  Now she goes to class every week, does her homework diligently and is trying to get used to writing legal papers instead of news articles. What is proving harder for her to get used to is a new generation of students. In a recent conversation, she mentioned a classmate who wears a pink Victoria Secret body suit to class. I anticipate many more such complaints and anecdotes from her as she navigates a new career and a new generation of students while only a few years away from traditional retirement.

Readers, are you contemplating going back to school? Do you think it would be hard for you to become a student after being in the workforce for so long? Is changing careers really sometimes the only way to continue getting a paycheck? Visit our message boards to join an active discussion on working as a paralegal. Also, visit our Job Search section to see what kind of jobs are out there for someone with paralegal qualifications.

--Posted by Aman Singh, Vault Editor


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