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My civil engineering PhD got extended to 5 years due to my lack of commitment during the early years and lack of interest in my research area on part of my advisor.

I feel that I made a mistake by joining under the advisor in spite of having good profile in masters degree. Though I was initially interested in the research topic, I lost interest in it as it became a solo journey right from the start. My advisor's interest area do not align with my PhD thesis. I believe he had to work in the field because he was part of a grant. My lab colleagues work in different research area in alignment with my advisor's expertise.

Now, I am stuck with a PhD degree that couldn't get any rigorous due to personal limitation. I obviously can't conceive, execute complex research ideas absolutely independently. Also, my advisor did not push all my manuscripts for publication till date. I have only published 2 papers in the 5 years of PhD.

Now I am applying for postdoc positions, and I am receiving no suggestions from my advisor. He has no contact on my research area. I am getting no response from my applications. My defense is due in December. And I am panicking about not having anywhere to go from here.

I am overqualified for most of the industrial positions and those positions where they need a PhD, my research appears underwhelming.

I really messed up, I don't know what should I do. Academia seems closed. Industry a far fetched dream. I am in the US and I am an international student. Sorry for the rant. I really can use an advise. Is it possible to come back from such a disastrous profile?

  • How do You know you are overqualofied? – user112604 Sep 4 '19 at 10:50
  • Academia encompasses more than postdocs. Have you considered applying for more teaching-oriented faculty jobs? – Nate Eldredge Sep 4 '19 at 11:25
  • Have you applied for work in industry? Your visa and green card status would be more of a hinderance than being overqualified with a PhD. – Poidah Sep 4 '19 at 12:51
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First, you didn't really "mess up your PhD" if you get your diploma at the end, something which seems very likely in your case. The main goal of doing a PhD is to get a PhD diploma, so you should evaluate success by this criterion even if it's not everything you had initially hoped for.

What you're going through is a period of low self-esteem/regrets/depression, a very common symptom of finishing a PhD (see for instance here). It's normal but be aware that currently you are not completely rational in your self-evaluation, and don't hesitate to seek professional help if you feel like you need it.

I really messed up, I don't know what should I do. Academia seems closed. Industry a far fetched dream. I am in the US and I am an international student. Sorry for the rant. I really can use an advise. Is it possible to come back from such a disastrous profile?

These interpretations are the result of your low self-esteem at the moment. For example you will know if academia is closed to you only if you apply for academic jobs. Sure you might not get a position in a prestigious institution, but there's a lot of postdoc opportunities everywhere and if that's what you really want you should definitely apply. A year or two of postdoc in a different place, on a different topic and with different people could completely change your perspective and your academic profile.

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