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Near the End of A PhD and Have No Job

by Astro_Dude
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twofish-quant
#55
Jul17-11, 03:46 AM
P: 6,863
Quote Quote by StatGuy2000 View Post
I am of the concerted opinion (I could be wrong, but likely not) that much of what is happening related to the debt-ceiling is just pure political theatre, and that by August 2 (or probably the day before) a deal will be reached between the Republicans and the Democrats in Congress.
Oh. I think that too, but the problem with threatening to jump off a cliff is that even if you don't mean to do it, you might slip.

The other thing is that there are some pretty interesting game theory elements as to what is going on. You have your finger on the button of a bomb that will blow everyone up. Now no rational person would press that button, but if you know that the other person is rational, you can bargain pretty hard knowing that they won't press that button. So part of convincing someone to do what you want is to make people think that you are nuts.

Also even if they do come up with a budget deal, no one has any clue what it looks like which means that even in the best case scenario, no one that depends on government funding is hiring right now, because even in the absence of a default, no one knows who is going to get cut.
twofish-quant
#56
Jul17-11, 03:51 AM
P: 6,863
Quote Quote by nobelium102 View Post
omg you are scarrrrring me,,,,,,,,,,,
I wanted to do physics and math major :(
The world is a scary place.

Also, I don't want to dissuade you from doing a physics and math major. Part of the situation is that we have a lousy economy, but a lousy economy hits pretty much everyone, so even though you might be in a bad situation if you major in physics and math, what else are you going to do? Every other major is bad or worse.
twofish-quant
#57
Jul17-11, 05:12 AM
P: 6,863
Quote Quote by Astro_Dude View Post
In the end though, it just is just maddening to think that after spending 10 years with (pretty much) no life, I *still* don't have what is needed for most positions that are interesting. I know people with humanities degrees who have gotten engineering jobs more easily.
One thing that I figured out when I went out into the "real world" is that getting a job involves learning a lot of skills that aren't obviously taught in the Ph.D. program. One of which is how not to go insane with a ton of rejections.

As I've said, I know I gotta keep optimistic, not always easy though!
Personally, I find that optimism doesn't work that well.

Cynicism and a taste for the absurd works better for me. Also, I found that looking for work left me profoundly angry, and a lot of the "how not to go too crazy" was to deal with the anger. It turns out that for me, anger was useful. The thing that I had to worry about most was getting so depressed that I couldn't get out of bed, but the nice thing about getting angry was that getting angry gets you out of bed.

I'd be interested to know what the perception of this is on Wall Street. Because really, the people I know on Wall Street seem to have a much better bead on what's really going on in these types of debates.
I don't think there is a consensus. Also there is an element of self-interest here. I'm a little worried that the economy is becoming too finance focus, but on the other hand, I'm obviously not going to advocate "shoot the bankers" policies.

But if there's no jobs, why advertise positions on the website??? Isn't that just a waste of everyone's time?
Because it takes time to clean up the website, and sometimes the truth (i.e. not only are we not hiring, but we are just laid off a thousand people and moving operations to India) looks bad on a website. It's an obvious waste of the time of job seekers, but then that doesn't matter to anyone in the company. Also, when a company is undergoing massive layoffs, the last thing anyone cares about is to keep the website up to date.

This is where networking comes in useful. If you know someone that works at company X, they can tell you whether company X is really hiring or if everyone there is working on their resumes and about to jump ship.

I've had bad experiences with corporate websites to the point that I don't even bother looking at them for any sort of job search. In the markets I've been in, if a company has a real job opening, they are going to be going through headhunters and the standard job search sites.
twofish-quant
#58
Jul17-11, 11:02 PM
P: 6,863
One other thing about geography is that there is something that causes Ph.D. jobs to cluster in a few cities. My guess is that part of it is the "space alien syndrome." If you give your resume to a company that has never seen a physics Ph.D., then they have no clue what to do with you. Whereas, it helps a lot if you are talking to another Ph.D.

I spent about two years trying not to end up in NYC before I gave up and drank the kool-aid. I ended up loving the culture of NYC, although I can see how some people might hate it.

One of the things I like about NYC is that people in NYC think big, and they don't mind other people thinking big. In my last job search, I was talking to a company in DFW and I was telling them how I wanted to transform the entire world of finance, and they were looking at me like "well we just need someone to manage the computers."
Astro_Dude
#59
Jul18-11, 12:46 AM
P: 50
Quote Quote by twofish-quant View Post
One other thing about geography is that there is something that causes Ph.D. jobs to cluster in a few cities. My guess is that part of it is the "space alien syndrome." If you give your resume to a company that has never seen a physics Ph.D., then they have no clue what to do with you. Whereas, it helps a lot if you are talking to another Ph.D.

I spent about two years trying not to end up in NYC before I gave up and drank the kool-aid. I ended up loving the culture of NYC, although I can see how some people might hate it.

One of the things I like about NYC is that people in NYC think big, and they don't mind other people thinking big. In my last job search, I was talking to a company in DFW and I was telling them how I wanted to transform the entire world of finance, and they were looking at me like "well we just need someone to manage the computers."
That's a surprising attitude for a DFW company to have since half the damned area runs on high tech. I can think of about 2 dozen companies that have big operations there.... and that's not including the gov't operations in the area.
Astro_Dude
#60
Jul19-11, 01:03 AM
P: 50
A lot of my professors have been coming to me and telling me that even they had months of waiting after graduation. It actually amazed me at which of them are telling me that they were out of school with no options, because a lot of them are staggeringly brilliant, and much better than I am at this! :)

It's vaguely calming to hear that this is apparently normal to be in this position.
twofish-quant
#61
Jul19-11, 06:03 AM
P: 6,863
Quote Quote by Astro_Dude View Post
That's a surprising attitude for a DFW company to have since half the damned area runs on high tech.
The curious thing about high technology companies is how with some few exceptions, they tend not to be run by technical people. Many technology companies have a glass ceiling above which geeks aren't allowed to tread. In most companies, you will find a huge amount of your time taking orders from salesman and MBA's that are totally clueless about what the company makes.
hawaiifiver
#62
Jul21-11, 03:52 PM
P: 57
isn't that headwrecking!
TMFKAN64
#63
Jul21-11, 07:48 PM
P: 1,084
Not really. The sad thing that you eventually realize is that in the big scheme of things, engineering really isn't that important to the fate of a company. Sure, you need some engineers, and they need to make *something* that can be sold... but how good it is doesn't really matter that much.

The fate of a company usually turns on sales and marketing, not technology.
twofish-quant
#64
Jul21-11, 09:38 PM
P: 6,863
Quote Quote by TMFKAN64 View Post
The fate of a company usually turns on sales and marketing, not technology.
Also sales and marketing involves convincing people to give you money and power, and it's not too surprising that people that are good at convincing other people to give them money and power end up having large amounts of money and power within a company.
GODISMYSHADOW
#65
Jul25-11, 06:36 PM
P: 40
Quote Quote by Astro_Dude View Post
I'm really at the end of my rope.

For months I've applied to jobs in industry, gov't, and even academia with little to nothing in the way of responses. I've gotten on the order of 1-3 responses back, and almost all three said that they'd "might have" hired me if they didn't get unexpected cuts.

For background, I have a M.S. in physics, B.S. in Physics & Mathematics, and will soon get my Ph.D. in physics this summer. Sounds like I totally have a great resume right? Well, it turns out that I made a horrific decision in wanting to do my thesis in observational astronomy. So while my degree says Physics, much of my research experience isn't very transferable outside of academia... which I have grown to despise. I don't want to be in this environment anymore. I don't want to move 3 more times in the next six years before even having a hope of a permanent job. I want to be able to start my life... I'd love a job in industry (particularly in defense)... but I can find very little in the way of openings I even vaguely qualify for.

I don't have the vigorous theoretical background to do high-end finance, even if that would be of interest to me. I have some computational skills, but virtually everything I find computer based in jobs requires much more skills than I have (e.g. specific databases, language or engineering programs). What I do have is the PhD to prove I'm a good problem solver, and a smart driven person. I have authored many papers, can (and have) taught others how to use astro tools, and I am above average in scientific statistics. I have scripted a few basic monte carlos in Python, but that's really the extent of my coding skills.

Still, everything I find wants ridiculous requirements, and generally the response I hear back for jobs I do qualify for is "...but you don't have an engineering degree". I'm losing my mind in that I can't find very many jobs that I qualify for, and those that I do stick their nose in the air because my degree says Physics and not Engineering.

My best luck in matching my skills has come from looking at Systems & Research engineering, but I generally never hear back from those positions. I suppose mostly because they are either entry level or require knowing every engineering program the company uses. While I'm on the subject, I've never really figured out whether I should sell myself as an entry level person with a lot of skills or a qualified person with no experience???

I guess I'm just posting to figure out what the heck I'm doing wrong. I just am so darn frustrated... I feel like I've wasted my time, and I should have just gone straight into the workforce out of my B.S....

EDIT: I also try to sell my very limited experience with radios and Jackson E&M as being relevant for signal analysis and such....
You've picked a field where brilliant men are commonplace. A roommate at IIT was a physics major, but his grades weren't so good. When they returned the exams in physics class he had a "D" on his. However, this guy was well informed about everything and later landed a job designing aircraft instruments.
GODISMYSHADOW
#66
Jul26-11, 11:17 AM
P: 40
Quote Quote by Astro_Dude View Post
Still, everything I find wants ridiculous requirements, and generally the response I hear back for jobs I do qualify for is "...but you don't have an engineering degree". I'm losing my mind in that I can't find very many jobs that I qualify for, and those that I do stick their nose in the air because my degree says Physics and not Engineering.
Another thought, maybe you can try civil engineering. Civil engineering is one of those jobs they sometimes let mathematicians do. They don't always ask for an engineering degree. It's a very old profession. Civil engineering has been around for thousands of years.
minesweeper
#67
Jul26-11, 11:50 AM
P: 2
Quote Quote by GODISMYSHADOW View Post
Another thought, maybe you can try civil engineering. Civil engineering is one of those jobs they sometimes let mathematicians do. They don't always ask for an engineering degree. It's a very old profession. Civil engineering has been around for thousands of years.
I find this post very odd. Civil engineering is one of the most tightly regulated fields.
GODISMYSHADOW
#68
Jul26-11, 12:13 PM
P: 40
Quote Quote by minesweeper View Post
I find this post very odd. Civil engineering is one of the most tightly regulated fields.
Check out the requirements for posted civil engineering job openings. Some of them do accept a mathematician.
joesmith
#69
Jul26-11, 01:11 PM
P: 12
,,,,,,and if it aint been mentioned there is always the Oil field,,
you'll do just great I am sure,
enjoy life,,
a joe in Texas
Astro_Dude
#70
Jul26-11, 03:19 PM
P: 50
GODISMYSHADOW, from what I've seen, you need to be a PE to be a civil engineer. Most everything I've seen on PE exams is you can't even sit for them without a BE.

Quote Quote by joesmith View Post
,,,,,,and if it aint been mentioned there is always the Oil field,,
you'll do just great I am sure,
enjoy life,,
a joe in Texas
I really should have learned more fluid dynamics...
GODISMYSHADOW
#71
Jul27-11, 04:04 PM
P: 40
Quote Quote by Astro_Dude View Post
GODISMYSHADOW, from what I've seen, you need to be a PE to be a civil engineer. Most everything I've seen on PE exams is you can't even sit for them without a BE.



I really should have learned more fluid dynamics...
You won't be licensed without the PE, but maybe it's different in the UK. An applied mathematician can still generate some income.

The Great Pyramid at Cheops was constructed using the golden section PHI = (1 + SQR (5)) / 2. The height of the pyramid is half the length of one side of the base multiplied by the square root of PHI. The slant height of the pyramid is half the length of one side of the base multiplied by PHI. A mathematician must have been involved.
evankiefl
#72
Jul27-11, 05:20 PM
P: 14
Quote Quote by GODISMYSHADOW View Post
You won't be licensed without the PE, but maybe it's different in the UK. An applied mathematician can still generate some income.

The Great Pyramid at Cheops was constructed using the golden section PHI = (1 + SQR (5)) / 2. The height of the pyramid is half the length of one side of the base multiplied by the square root of PHI. The slant height of the pyramid is half the length of one side of the base multiplied by PHI. A mathematician must have been involved.
Shame we still don't build those.


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