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The Experience Conundrum When Making a Mid-Career Shift

Question asked by Kurt Oldenburg on Jul 5, 2017

How does an experienced person shift into a new area when the learning opportunities are targeted to new grads?


Last year, after 18 years as a chemist and manager at 3M, I was laid off. The job market is miserable for higher level people with more than 5 years of experience. 50+ applications yielded 3 interviews, and at those it was pretty obvious that I had way more experience than they wanted (for one of them I probably had more experience than the person who would have been my next level manager).


So, I've decided to make a course adjustment into patent law as a patent agent and analyst. While I'm prepping to take the USPTO bar exam I've been networking and looking for jobs. I'm finding that my experience is beneficial, but because I don't have legal experience I'm not qualified. It's basically the chicken and egg conundrum.


Traditionally, new patent agents/attorneys get the requested experience through internships while they are still in school. Internship programs require applicants to be enrolled in college or law school. Even job fairs require being in school to get in the door.

Kurt Oldenburg, PhD