Because everyone should dig their job

Inspiration for those considering a late-life career change

Inspiration comes in many forms. Often it is a quote we read, a person we meet or an event we witness. In this case, inspiration lies in the story of a well-known attorney at a local law firm. The story of Michael F. Scully is a story of inspiration for all who have ever considered a career change, but let age stand in the way.

Michael Scully is currently an accomplished Consumer Attorney at the Minneapolis law firm of Sieben, Grose, Von Holtum & Carey. Michael's story is an inspiration to all, he is the embodiment of courage, strength, and the determination it takes to make a major life change late in life. His story is motivation to make dreams a reality no matter what your age. After graduating High School, Michael began his career in Public Relations and Fundraising at St. John's School in MN. After the school began experiencing academic declines and layoffs, time spent soul searching resulted in Michael's decision to attend Graduate School. Michael's decision was put on hold, when in 1988 he was diagnosed with a life threatening brain tumor, and his wife gave birth to twins. After a successful surgery, recovery and the birth of two healthy boys, nearly 15 years after his graduation from St. John's, Michael attended Hamline University School of Law full time, graduating at age 40 in 1993. He worked as both a legal assistant and a law clerk at Sieben, Grose, Von Holtum & Carey while attending school. As a Hamline law student, Mr. Scully earned the highest grade in two of his courses and was presented two Excellence for the Future Awards by the Center for Computer-Assisted Legal Instruction. He was also awarded for Scholastic Excellence in Torts and was named "Recognized Volunteer" by the Student Bar Association.

Besides being licensed as an attorney, Mr. Scully is certified by the Minnesota Supreme Court as a mediator.

Mr. Scully was recently selected a "Rising Star" by his peers for a survey by the respected trade journal Minnesota Law & Politics. This designation represents Minnesota's top up and coming lawyers.

The most difficult part of making a career change late in life are the adjustments that are required of the individual and of the family, Mike explains. But the benefit of life experience and maturity help to create a smoother transition. Mike Scully's advice to those who are considering changing careers is "opportunities come at different times in life; you have to grab them when they come, regardless of age."


In our twenties and thirties we make career transitions in order to achieve success. At midlife, as we recognize our mortality, we tend to reflect on the gap between the reality of our lives and the dreams we once had. Follow these steps to bridging this gap as you re-envision the second half of your life:

  1. Determine If It's Time for a Change. Are you bored by what you're doing now? Do you feel drained and exhausted by your day? Are you unsatisfied even after you've accomplished something? Have you lost interest in things that used to excite you? Do you wake up dreading the day about to unfold? Do you feel as if you worked hard but didn't get what you really wanted? Are your talents being squandered? Are you angry and resentful about what you "have to" do?
  2. Write Your Mission Statement. Ideally, work is an expression of who we are. A meaningful and satisfying career meshes with our values, our talents, and what is important to us. Think of someone who is living the life you most envy. What is it about his or her life that you wish were part of yours? Write the euology you'd like someone to deliver for you. What contributions would people say you've made to the lives of others and to the world.
  3. Inventory Your Accomplishments. This is often very difficult for those of us taught not to brag. But affirming your valuable experiences reminds you of what you do well. It serves as a compass and provides refueling for the journey ahead. Write down all you've accomplished in all of your life roles. What a resume!
  4. Inventory Your Competencies. List everything you're good at. Ask others to help out. Don't restrict yourself to job tasks. If you're good at convincing your partner to do things your way, that's evidence of your persuasive skills. Putting together a social event showcases your leadership and organizational skills. Are you an effective manager of your family's finances?
  5. Inventory Your Satisfactions. Just because you're good at something doesn't necessarily mean you find it satisfying. Do you get the greatest satisfaction from doing tasks that mirror your interests? Do you enjoy working as part of a team? Do you prefer activities that produce tangible results?
  6. Inventory Your Values. What matters most to you? Consider values like autonomy, altruism, power, financial gain, intellectual stimulation, affiliation, leadership and service.
  7. Make a List of the Things You Love to Do. If money were not an issue how would you spend your perfect day? Think of the physical settings you'd like to be in, the people you'd want to see, the activities you'd engage in, the pace at which you'd move and whether you'd seek relaxation or excitement.
  8. Gather Information. Take your list of accomplishments, competencies, values and passions and find careers that fit your personal description. Search the Internet. Read the classifieds. Go to your public library. Most colleges have career libraries filled with descriptions of careers you've never heard of. Create a list of options—include every job that intrigues you, regardless of whether you have the required skills for it.
  9. Do Informational Interviews. Talk to people who do the kinds of work you've identified as interesting. Call your alumni association, contact professional associations, and ask your friends if they know anyone. Ask people what it's like to do their job, what they love and hate about their work, and how they landed where they are. Ask fearlessly but respectfully.
  10. Narrowing Your Focus. As you gather information, your focus will narrow. When you're down to just a few possibilities, research for details. Try volunteering or taking a short-term, part-time position to see how your potential new career might feel.
  11. Learning New Skills. Get training or education to keep up with the quickly changing marketplace. Think in terms of skills instead of credentials. Contact the nearest college or university to find out about adult education programs. Most schools accommodate work schedules and offer special programs to prepare returning women students for the college classroom.
  12. Get Support. Making career transitions requires a lot of emotional support. Don't hesitate to ask family and friends for help. As children leave home you'll be renegotiating your role in the home: Incorporate your career-change needs into these negotiations. Discuss the time and support you'll need. The best way to get your family on board is to explain why making this change is so important to you.