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10/05/2013

How to brand your degree.

This is the season when many Final year college students are completing their final exams, and stepping out into the world of employment. A lucky few students will have jobs even before graduation, but for many, the hard daunting task of looking for a job has just began. So, how do you brand your degree and stand out? What is the value of your degree in the marketplace?

If you've earned a graduate degree that puts you on a less-than-certain professional career path, some naysayers may even term your degree "useless", as a former minister of education once termed a certain set of degrees.

The truth is, your subject matter knowledge may be irrelevant to anything going on in the business world today. That's why you need to emphasize your skills, not your content expertise. In literature, you
learned to read complex stories with careful comprehension, and fashion tight, logical arguments. That's an applicable business skill, even if knowing about knowing Chinua Achebe’s novels may not.

Next, you'll want to position yourself as a potential fount of innovation. You're never going to win the argument that you're better qualified than someone who has studied a relevant business discipline — or who has worked in the field for years. So don't even try. You're differently qualified, and your unique perspective may be just what the company needs to move to the next level.

You'll also want to cite your work experience. Many students serve as research assistants, teaching fellows, or writing-center tutors — and you may even have had internships in your field. Those provide valuable "real-world" credentials that will likely be more impressive to potential employers than your degree itself. Can you lead and inspire those in your charge (i.e., a classroom full of twenty skeptical students)? Solve difficult research challenges and unearth crucial facts? Those are abilities that any workplace would covet.

In practical terms, your degree may not be relevant to your subsequent professional life. But it can be very relevant to your development as a human being. But if you've taken the plunge and are now entering the work world, you owe it to yourself to make the best case possible in explaining its value to others.

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