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Overcoming the 'Overeducated Yet Underqualified' Label

Christine Kelly, a graduate career consultant at the University of California, Irvine, gives advice for graduate students who wish to enhance their inner entrepreneur in Inside Higher Ed. Kelly says that the difference between PhD candidates with focused career paths and those who are "lost, confused, and rudderless," is that the students with a clearer career vision take proper "ownership of their career path." She suggests three principles that every PhD candidate should bear in mind. First, she says, it's important to brand yourself. Namely, students should define their unique qualities to the point that "when someone hears your name they know what you are about," Kelly writes. Second, candidates should seek opportunity "beyond the typical TA and RA positions." Specifically, it may be advantageous for grad students to pursue nonacademic positions. "It's not uncommon for PhDs looking for that first industry job to discover they're considered overeducated yet underqualified," Kelly writes. Finally, she says, graduate students should be fully prepared to adapt to changing career climates. "A good way to increase your adaptability is to analyze your current transferable skills and explore where you need skill development," she writes.