Near the End of A PhD and Have No Job


by Astro_Dude
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GODISMYSHADOW
GODISMYSHADOW is offline
#73
Jul28-11, 01:36 PM
P: 40
Quote Quote by evankiefl View Post
Shame we still don't build those.
It was a big white elephant they built for some superstitious reason.

While working as a programmer at IR, the design engineers used Intergraph Solid Edge modeling software. They drew the sheet metal part in 3D and Solid Edge did everything for them. It would calculate the bend allowance and unfold the part into a flat drawing ready for print out.

Engineering is getting like that. Software is analyzing the forces acting on parts making up a bridge. Perhaps the engineer has forgotten how to do it himself. That was in a Statics and Dynamics course he took years ago. Is it possible they have even forgotten their trig?
GODISMYSHADOW
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#74
Jul29-11, 01:54 PM
P: 40
Quote Quote by ParticleGrl View Post
I feel your pain. I've been looking since last December, when I finished my high energy phd, and am currently tending bar while I look for more challenging work.

I've had some luck getting interviews with business consulting firms, so you might want to look at that route.
Be careful what you wish for! You will notice that red fire alarm with piezoelectric element on the wall. It WILL damage your hearing. Every month they will do a test: "We will be testing the fire alarm. Please remain in your work areas." If you do anything strange like wear hearing protection in the office or even put your fingers in your ears when it goes off, you'll probably be fired. That's how people are. The job might pay $80,000/year, but if it costs you your hearing, is it worth it?

Do something outdoors. Go hunt for meteorites.
twofish-quant
twofish-quant is offline
#75
Jul30-11, 05:28 AM
P: 6,863
Quote Quote by Astro_Dude View Post
I really should have learned more fluid dynamics...
In fact fluid dynamics isn't directly used that much in oil/gas exploration. The closest thing to CFD is reservoir simulation and those are mostly difussive equations. Once on a lark I tried to calculate the effective reynolds number of an oil reservoir and the numbers were really, really tiny.

What I did when I worked in oil/gas was data processing software for well logs. What I ended up doing was mostly algebra. There is a lot of sophisticated physics "under the covers" which was then packaged for use by people with middle educations.

What someone (who I never met and might have done the work in the 1970's) did was to calculate things like neutron diffusion and then created "graphical charts" which someone with a middle school education could use to do calculations. It's really cool because someone in the 1950's figured out a way for someone with no knowledge of algebra to do PDE computations. A lot of what I did was then to take those charts digitize them and have it so that the computer could do chart lookups. Of course, the logical thing would be to have the computers run the actual equations, but that would have been too logical.
joesmith
joesmith is offline
#76
Jul30-11, 02:19 PM
P: 12
This is a good time for a young man to join the industry.Oil and gas pays BIG $$$$$$$$,,,,the
standard has been raised because of BP and the gulf thing.
-------------
All I ever did was drill,,,,I was a driller for 9 years,,good enough money that I could afford to save most of it,married a woman from Wisconsin,,with same mindset.
At 65 Life is Good.
a joe in Texas
Pyrrhus
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#77
Jul30-11, 06:57 PM
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Quote Quote by twofish-quant View Post
What someone (who I never met and might have done the work in the 1970's) did was to calculate things like neutron diffusion and then created "graphical charts" which someone with a middle school education could use to do calculations. It's really cool because someone in the 1950's figured out a way for someone with no knowledge of algebra to do PDE computations. A lot of what I did was then to take those charts digitize them and have it so that the computer could do chart lookups. Of course, the logical thing would be to have the computers run the actual equations, but that would have been too logical.
Yes.... Standardized engineering is pretty much following those steps at least in some fields like Civil. Someone solved the problem before and created a guide that you must follow. This stifles creativity, but standardizing is a way to make sure that everything works "fine". That's one of the reasons I left engineering.
GODISMYSHADOW
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#78
Aug2-11, 08:30 AM
P: 40
Quote Quote by twofish-quant View Post
In fact fluid dynamics isn't directly used that much in oil/gas exploration. The closest thing to CFD is reservoir simulation and those are mostly difussive equations. Once on a lark I tried to calculate the effective reynolds number of an oil reservoir and the numbers were really, really tiny.

What I did when I worked in oil/gas was data processing software for well logs. What I ended up doing was mostly algebra. There is a lot of sophisticated physics "under the covers" which was then packaged for use by people with middle educations.

What someone (who I never met and might have done the work in the 1970's) did was to calculate things like neutron diffusion and then created "graphical charts" which someone with a middle school education could use to do calculations. It's really cool because someone in the 1950's figured out a way for someone with no knowledge of algebra to do PDE computations. A lot of what I did was then to take those charts digitize them and have it so that the computer could do chart lookups. Of course, the logical thing would be to have the computers run the actual equations, but that would have been too logical.

Then what skills do we need? What should we study? Have your read the tale of John Henry? He tried to compete with a steam powered hammer. Don't try to beat a machine. Don't try to be like the computer.
Astro_Dude
Astro_Dude is offline
#79
Aug18-11, 10:25 AM
P: 50
Just as an update, I sent out another 100 apps in July alone. Got a few first round phone interviews, a call or two from managers regarding unposted jobs, but nothing beyond that.

It seems like every time I feel like I may be getting something it doesn't go through. I don't feel anything when I get the standard no-reply or rejection email anymore, but I just wish I'd get called back just to hear "oh yeah, sorry, we're going with someone else."

I know that a lot of these companies move VERY slow, and a lot more just don't feel a need to call anyone back. I just wish I could do something of use. :( The economy getting worse and the cuts to the defense industry are not helping my optimism.
Nylex
Nylex is offline
#80
Aug18-11, 11:40 AM
P: 554
I've only just seen this thread. Good luck to you, Astro_Dude. I know how you're feeling; I'm experiencing the "end of my rope" feeling as well. What kinds of things are you applying for? Looks like I'll need to do 100 app months as soon as I'm done with my PhD. Wow .
EEEngr25
EEEngr25 is offline
#81
Aug22-11, 12:14 AM
P: 1
I am in the same boat as you astro_dude except I have an EE degree. However, like you, my dissertation topic is not readily transferable to industry so I am also having a hard time finding jobs. I was "lucky" to land a part-time gig as lecturer at a university for $2,000 a month which is a bit higher than my monthly stipend as a grad student researcher.

It's not your fault that you are having a hard time finding a job. The economy is just terrible and is probably the worst for new grads since the 1930s.If Ivy League grads are working minimum wage jobs for $10 an hour after earning a bachelors degree and UC grads are thankful to be working as cashiers at Home Depot after finishing an undergraduate degree, you can only conclude that the job market is going to be hard for everyone - new grads and older workers who have just been unemployed.

The best tip is this. The best way to get a job in this horrible economy is through networking and connections. Do your academic or thesis advisers or someone at your alma mater colleges have connections to industry, research, or government? Maybe through them, you can find a job. If you reconnect with them, they can put in a good word for you with their contacts and then you can pretty much skip the resume & phone interview crap and go straight to an in-person interview. That might be the best way to go. Otherwise, if you have any grad school classmates who were able to find employment, it might be helpful to check with them also to see if they can get you in through the back door. In this economy, the easiest way to get a job is through the "back door" via networking and connections. Otherwise, going through the formal procedures of resume, phone interview, in-person interview, and pray that the company hires you is really difficult. It's not going to help that the economy might go into a double dip recession.

Anyway, best of luck to you! I hope something works out!
nickadams
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#82
Aug30-11, 05:13 PM
P: 184
This thread is making me second guess my desire to get a PhD.
twofish-quant
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#83
Aug30-11, 09:03 PM
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Quote Quote by nickadams View Post
This thread is making me second guess my desire to get a PhD.
There are some good things about getting a physics Ph.D. This discussion is really useful because it helps people make informed decisions and know what they are in for, but part of the reason that I encourage discussions like these is because I think that society would be better off with more physics Ph.D.'s.

1) Remember that the job market is bad for everyone.

2) Getting a Ph.D. gets you out of the market for about seven years, and lets you reroll the dice. Hopefully the US economy will recover in a few years, but if it doesn't then you are probably in trouble no matter what you do.

3) You leave the Ph.D. without much debt. Yes it is a bad thing, to get your Ph.D. and then work as a bartender, but you have to realize that this puts you in a *much* better position than people that went to med school or law school. In the worst case scenario, you get some job that keeps you from starving and wait for things to improve. People that went to law and med school now have massive debt that *cannot be discharged by bankruptcy*. Interest payments are building up, so even if they economy improves in two years, they are totally hosed.

4) Is it better to have loved and lost than to have never loved at all? The biggest regret that physics Ph.D.'s have is that they aren't going to be able to do science for their entire lives. However, most people can't do that, and for me at least, I think it is better that I spent ten years doing astrophysics research (with the possibility that I'll be able to do it again in a few years) than to have never done it at all.

5) Finally, if everything does blow up, a Ph.D. will get you in front of the queue if you have to immigrate to another country. Remember that a lot of scientists ran to the US in order to escape extreme hardship, and if things get really, really bad, a Ph.D. will help you get out of the US to somewhere that the grass is greener.
jk
jk is offline
#84
Sep1-11, 04:22 PM
P: 141
I have found that sending resumes at random is highly ineffective. I have been in working in industry for 15 years and have only had that work twice and one of those times was during the dot com boom when they were taking anyone with a pulse.
I graduated with a BS Physics in 95 and have been working as a programmer since. I've worked for all kinds of companies from tiny mom and pop shop that needed someone to do networking and some data analysis, to oil and gas, large law firm (~2k employees), dot com, major financial company and government contractor.

The most effective methods for job hunting that I have found are (in decreasing order of effectiveness):
1. Networking. This is by far the most effective way. If you know someone in the company you want to work for who can place your resume on the desk of a technical manager who is looking to hire, you have cleared the number one hurdle that trips up every job hunter. If you don't know anyone at that company, your job is to get to know somebody there. You can ask friends and family, neighbors, professors, your pastor and any person you come in contact with for more than 5 minutes if they know someone there. LinkedIn can be invaluable in this way (I know someone who got hired through contacts they made on LinkedIn. I also got someone an interview because he found out that I was linked to someone who worked at a company he was interested in. I made the introductions, his resume was placed on the tech manager's desk and he got the interview. He did not get the job but I can't do everything :)
Of course everyone tells you to network but if you've spent the last 8 years or so buried in books, you probably haven't built up a particularly robust network. You can start by going to industry functions, chamber of commerce events, local speakers from the industry you are interested in and even enrolling in some classes where people of that ilk are bound to be found. For example, you can audit a financial derivatives class at your local MBA mill. The thing is, you are not going to find those people sitting at home and sending resumes into the wild (more on this later).
One thing you can do is call up people in the industry and ask if you can do informational interview. If someone calls me and I'm not under pressure to give them a job, I'm more than willing to give them advice on the industry. Just make sure you don't call them on Monday morning when they're trying to get caught up on all the crap they were supposed to do over the weekend. People will usually give you pointers. At they very worst, they will hang up on you - you have nothing to lose.

2. Head hunters. They have a bad reputation (some deservedly so) but the good ones have contacts in their respective industries that keep them informed. The really good ones have top level contacts (There was one particular head hunter who was rumored to have been romantically involved with a married director of the financial firm I was working at. That is contacts!). Your job is to find such headhunters - which is much easier than finding those elusive jobs. You have to make sure that whoever you get specializes in the industry you are interested in. It does you no good to go to a recruiter who works with oil and gas if you're interested in finance (unless it was energy trading) and vice versa.

3. Your school's career center. Depending on where you are located and what kind of jobs you are looking for, this may or may not be effective. For example, if you are in Arkansas and you want to work in Quantitative Finance, they probably won't be able to hook you up. But if you are in Texas and want to work in the Oil and Gas industry, they may have something for you. Companies routinely go to schools for recruiting events. They're probably looking for people with BS and MBA degrees but all you need is a chance to talk to the person the company sends. He or she may pass on your resume if you look promising.

4. Job fairs. You probably won't get a job out of these unless it's something like Walmart is in town and wants 200 people. If it is in your industry though, it is worthwhile to go and spend as much time as possible networking, ie. doing all those things that techies normally hate like accosting random people, introducing yourself, asking them what they do (even better if you know what they do - do your research beforehand) and then pumping them for information. Take their business cards. You will need it later when you call them up two weeks later, introduce yourself and ask if you can do an "informational interview".

5. Sending out resumes blindly. This is the least effective way to get a job. Yes, if you do it long enough and you send out enough resumes, you may get something. But are you willing to do this for a year and send out thousands of resumes? Especially when there are other more effective, if less comfortable, ways to get jobs? The thing is, while you are sending those resumes you feel like you are doing something. You can tell yourself at the end of a grueling day of sending resumes and cold calling (you are doing that, right?) that you are searching for a job. Truth is, you are doing the most comfortable thing for you to get a job. If you really want a job, you have to get out of your comfort zone and try the
other things I listed. It took me a while to get this but once I did, I never really had a problem finding a job.

When you send a resume blindly, it will land on some HR flunky's email inbox (if you're lucky). Usually, it will go to an automated inbox which scans for keywords and throws out those that don't have them. If by chance you get through to a human, most likely it will be someone in HR who has no clue what half the things on your resume are (I know this because I used to do programming for PeopleSoft and worked with HR people. They were really nice ladies but their priorities are learning new rules and policy changes, dealing with things like sexual harrassment and discrimination, etc. and not learning the latest hot programming language). Trust me, HR is your enemy. Repeat this until it sinks in. Their job is to filter out resumes, not to find that rare gem.

One more thing. Read a book called "What Color is your Parachute?". I read it when I first left school and the advice the author gave in that book has been spot on. It is updated every couple of years so you should get the latest one. If there is one book you should read on job hunting, this is it.
COSMOSGEEK
COSMOSGEEK is offline
#85
Sep2-11, 02:41 AM
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P: 13
Unfortunately its ture that people who has astro or cosmos diploma cant find a job in the industry area easily. I know someone who have similar situation to you. But it isnt so hard to do postdoc for them. I live in France. Here, PHD has salary as a normal employee . The salary is +/-2000euro/months . You can try to come to Europ if you dont mind living in another country. Maybe its easier to get a job.

Best luck for you!!
Astro_Dude
Astro_Dude is offline
#86
Sep5-11, 01:46 PM
P: 50
Ugh. I've been completely slowed down due to this job I had to take to keep my head above water as I'm looking. Long days, and I'm absolutely wiped most every night.

Quote Quote by jk View Post
I have found that sending resumes at random is highly ineffective. I have been in working in industry for 15 years and have only had that work twice and one of those times was during the dot com boom when they were taking anyone with a pulse.
I graduated with a BS Physics in 95 and have been working as a programmer since. I've worked for all kinds of companies from tiny mom and pop shop that needed someone to do networking and some data analysis, to oil and gas, large law firm (~2k employees), dot com, major financial company and government contractor.

The most effective methods for job hunting that I have found are (in decreasing order of effectiveness):
1. Networking. This is by far the most effective way. If you know someone in the company you want to work for who can place your resume on the desk of a technical manager who is looking to hire, you have cleared the number one hurdle that trips up every job hunter. If you don't know anyone at that company, your job is to get to know somebody there. You can ask friends and family, neighbors, professors, your pastor and any person you come in contact with for more than 5 minutes if they know someone there. LinkedIn can be invaluable in this way (I know someone who got hired through contacts they made on LinkedIn. I also got someone an interview because he found out that I was linked to someone who worked at a company he was interested in. I made the introductions, his resume was placed on the tech manager's desk and he got the interview. He did not get the job but I can't do everything :)
Of course everyone tells you to network but if you've spent the last 8 years or so buried in books, you probably haven't built up a particularly robust network. You can start by going to industry functions, chamber of commerce events, local speakers from the industry you are interested in and even enrolling in some classes where people of that ilk are bound to be found. For example, you can audit a financial derivatives class at your local MBA mill. The thing is, you are not going to find those people sitting at home and sending resumes into the wild (more on this later).
One thing you can do is call up people in the industry and ask if you can do informational interview. If someone calls me and I'm not under pressure to give them a job, I'm more than willing to give them advice on the industry. Just make sure you don't call them on Monday morning when they're trying to get caught up on all the crap they were supposed to do over the weekend. People will usually give you pointers. At they very worst, they will hang up on you - you have nothing to lose.
You are correct, I don't have the best of networks. I do, however, have good friends at very many defense contractors. I've had them suggest me for jobs, I've had some that are the heads of entire divisions send my resume out to their people, I've had others directly talk to their boss about how I would be great for some position in their own group. None of this has worked.

I keep hearing people talk about the magic of networking, but when you have friends who directly know people making the decisions and you can't get hired...

Anyway, yes. Everyone knows this is the way to network, but most people don't WANT to network with a physics person. 99% of the people you meet don't know what to do with you.

I also despise companies who are claiming to hire people but aren't. Stop bleeping lying, and wasting everyone's time.

Quote Quote by jk View Post
2. Head hunters. They have a bad reputation (some deservedly so) but the good ones have contacts in their respective industries that keep them informed. The really good ones have top level contacts (There was one particular head hunter who was rumored to have been romantically involved with a married director of the financial firm I was working at. That is contacts!). Your job is to find such headhunters - which is much easier than finding those elusive jobs. You have to make sure that whoever you get specializes in the industry you are interested in. It does you no good to go to a recruiter who works with oil and gas if you're interested in finance (unless it was energy trading) and vice versa.
This is MUCH easier said than done.

Quote Quote by jk View Post
3. Your school's career center. Depending on where you are located and what kind of jobs you are looking for, this may or may not be effective. For example, if you are in Arkansas and you want to work in Quantitative Finance, they probably won't be able to hook you up. But if you are in Texas and want to work in the Oil and Gas industry, they may have something for you. Companies routinely go to schools for recruiting events. They're probably looking for people with BS and MBA degrees but all you need is a chance to talk to the person the company sends. He or she may pass on your resume if you look promising.

4. Job fairs. You probably won't get a job out of these unless it's something like Walmart is in town and wants 200 people. If it is in your industry though, it is worthwhile to go and spend as much time as possible networking, ie. doing all those things that techies normally hate like accosting random people, introducing yourself, asking them what they do (even better if you know what they do - do your research beforehand) and then pumping them for information. Take their business cards. You will need it later when you call them up two weeks later, introduce yourself and ask if you can do an "informational interview".
These are one in the same and the problem is companies don't actually care. They're purposely not sending anyone worth networking with to these things. They send college-age kids who are usually one or two years out of their BE. 99% of the time all they have to say is how much fun they're having and to "use the website". It's almost never worth going to job fairs. I've never once met anyone who is worth "networking with" or is even interested in networking.

Maybe this was different when you were looking for work. Most companies just see job fairs as a way of reminding those kids who did co-ops that they have a job waiting for them.

Quote Quote by jk View Post
5. Sending out resumes blindly. This is the least effective way to get a job. Yes, if you do it long enough and you send out enough resumes, you may get something. But are you willing to do this for a year and send out thousands of resumes? Especially when there are other more effective, if less comfortable, ways to get jobs? The thing is, while you are sending those resumes you feel like you are doing something. You can tell yourself at the end of a grueling day of sending resumes and cold calling (you are doing that, right?) that you are searching for a job. Truth is, you are doing the most comfortable thing for you to get a job. If you really want a job, you have to get out of your comfort zone and try the
other things I listed. It took me a while to get this but once I did, I never really had a problem finding a job.
I've never, not once gotten a response back from a cold call. I always get a voice mail, and never, ever, get a call back. It's like when you pull a hot chick's number and she has no intention of actually picking up! :p

Yes, this is the worst possible way, but when the system is DESIGNED to screw anyone qualified, it's usually the ONLY way.

Quote Quote by jk View Post
When you send a resume blindly, it will land on some HR flunky's email inbox (if you're lucky). Usually, it will go to an automated inbox which scans for keywords and throws out those that don't have them. If by chance you get through to a human, most likely it will be someone in HR who has no clue what half the things on your resume are (I know this because I used to do programming for PeopleSoft and worked with HR people. They were really nice ladies but their priorities are learning new rules and policy changes, dealing with things like sexual harrassment and discrimination, etc. and not learning the latest hot programming language). Trust me, HR is your enemy. Repeat this until it sinks in. Their job is to filter out resumes, not to find that rare gem.

One more thing. Read a book called "What Color is your Parachute?". I read it when I first left school and the advice the author gave in that book has been spot on. It is updated every couple of years so you should get the latest one. If there is one book you should read on job hunting, this is it.
HR is the enemy, I know. However, there is little hope for me elsewhere since literally all my professors and colleagues have been career academics. I bleeping hate academia, and my contacts in industry, helpful as they have been, have not yielded results.
twofish-quant
twofish-quant is offline
#87
Sep5-11, 09:51 PM
P: 6,863
Quote Quote by jk View Post
2. Head hunters. They have a bad reputation (some deservedly so) but the good ones have contacts in their respective industries that keep them informed. The really good ones have top level contacts (There was one particular head hunter who was rumored to have been romantically involved with a married director of the financial firm I was working at. That is contacts!). Your job is to find such headhunters - which is much easier than finding those elusive jobs.
For physics Ph.D's, you can find headhunters at www.dice.com, www.efinancialcareers.com, www.phds.org, www.wilmott.com. Also *.jobs USENET is also useful.

3. Your school's career center. Depending on where you are located and what kind of jobs you are looking for, this may or may not be effective. For example, if you are in Arkansas and you want to work in Quantitative Finance, they probably won't be able to hook you up.
The problem with large schools like UT Austin is that physics Ph.D.'s can use the good career services. UT Austin has very good contacts in the financial industry, but those are in the McCombs Business School for MBA's, and I was told specifically that because I was natural sciences, that I would not be allowed to use MBA career services (I even offered to pay them).

Take their business cards. You will need it later when you call them up two weeks later, introduce yourself and ask if you can do an "informational interview".
For Ph.D.'s it is extremely useful to go to conferences. Even if you don't get a job, you can get information.

They were really nice ladies but their priorities are learning new rules and policy changes, dealing with things like sexual harrassment and discrimination, etc. and not learning the latest hot programming language). Trust me, HR is your enemy. Repeat this until it sinks in. Their job is to filter out resumes, not to find that rare gem.
One thing that I learned is don't consider people enemies. HR people have a job to do. Their job is to get rid of you. Also, one thing that helps a lot for Ph.D.'s is to write a resume that confuses HR. If an HR person sees that you have a Ph.D. and has no clue what you did, they might forward your resume to someone that has some clue, at which point you've gotten over the first hurdle.

Also, be *VERY* careful when you are interviewed by someone from HR. Their job in the interview is to make you feel warm and comfortable so that you say something about yourself that disqualifies you from the job. Also, be *VERY* careful at assuming roles. Some people that look like stereotypical HR people are actually computer geeks, and some people that look like stereotypical computer geeks are actually HR people.

One more thing. Read a book called "What Color is your Parachute?". I read it when I first left school and the advice the author gave in that book has been spot on. It is updated every couple of years so you should get the latest one. If there is one book you should read on job hunting, this is it.
I haven't read that book, so I don't know about it, but I've found that other books about resume writing and job searching often get it wrong. For example, a lot of books say that you should write your resume so that the reader will understand what you did, but if you are a Ph.D. looking for a Ph.D. position, you should write your resume so that the average person *doesn't* have much of a clue what you did.
jk
jk is offline
#88
Sep8-11, 04:57 PM
P: 141
Quote Quote by Astro_Dude View Post
You are correct, I don't have the best of networks. I do, however, have good friends at very many defense contractors. I've had them suggest me for jobs, I've had some that are the heads of entire divisions send my resume out to their people, I've had others directly talk to their boss about how I would be great for some position in their own group. None of this has worked.

I keep hearing people talk about the magic of networking, but when you have friends who directly know people making the decisions and you can't get hired...
There is no magic in job searches. Networking is work and it is not guaranteed to produce results all the time. But it is the best method that I know of.
What was the feedback you got from the jobs you were rejected for? Did you get any? Also, can you post your resume (after removing the personal info) here so we can give you feedback?
Anyway, yes. Everyone knows this is the way to network, but most people don't WANT to network with a physics person. 99% of the people you meet don't know what to do with you.
This is not true. Most people don't give a flip what you studied if they think you can do stuff for them. That is all that matters in the corporate world.

I also despise companies who are claiming to hire people but aren't. Stop bleeping lying, and wasting everyone's time.
Strange as this advice may sound, don't take it so personal when you get rejected. You will drive yourself crazy. You need to develop a thicker skin or you won't last long

These are one in the same and the problem is companies don't actually care. They're purposely not sending anyone worth networking with to these things. They send college-age kids who are usually one or two years out of their BE. 99% of the time all they have to say is how much fun they're having and to "use the website". It's almost never worth going to job fairs. I've never once met anyone who is worth "networking with" or is even interested in networking.
It is true that companies don't care but that is not relevant for your purposes. This is a commercial transaction. Your job is to convince the recruiter that by passing on your resume to his/her boss, they are doing something to help themselves. Of course, they don't care about you - they don't know you.

Try this next time you run into those "college-age kids"...instead of deciding that they are too low level to do anything for you, try to chat them up about the company in general. Don't tell them that you would like to work for the company. Tell them that you are looking around and trying to find one that you like. You don't want to give the impression of desperation, even if you are desperate. It's a funny thing about people that if they think you want to join their group badly (whatever their group is), they will be standoffish. But if you act as if you have options and are just being choosy, they will consider you more seriously.
Maybe this was different when you were looking for work. Most companies just see job fairs as a way of reminding those kids who did co-ops that they have a job waiting for them.
I don't think things have changed. For one thing, just because I got in the market 15 years ago doesn't mean I had never to look for work after that. The last time I got a job offer was in the middle of the financial crash when everyone was thinking the world was coming to an end. Of course, I have experience so that makes it a bit easier for me. But it is a question of degree and not a qualitative difference.

I've never, not once gotten a response back from a cold call. I always get a voice mail, and never, ever, get a call back. It's like when you pull a hot chick's number and she has no intention of actually picking up! :p
I agree cold calls are not very effective. That is why you should network and be introduced to the person you are calling. I am more likely to return a call if the person who is calling me was referred to me by someone I know and trust.

Are you on LinkedIn?

Yes, this is the worst possible way, but when the system is DESIGNED to screw anyone qualified, it's usually the ONLY way.
First of all, no one knows if you are qualified. A PhD is not a guarantee of qualification - it just means you were able to go through a few years of focused work in one very narrow area. That may or may not translate into productivity once you are at job. That is the only metric that counts for a manager. When I used to interview applicants, I noticed that there was very little correlation between advanced degrees and someone's performance. In fact, I had one PhD working for me that was ok but was not as good as this kid who was 6 months out of college with a BS.

The system is not designed to screw anyone. I think you need to step back for a minute and view this whole job search in a more dispassionate light. No one is out to get you. But no one is going to bend over backwards for you either. What you have to do is view this as a puzzle without getting emotional about it.


HR is the enemy, I know. However, there is little hope for me elsewhere since literally all my professors and colleagues have been career academics. I bleeping hate academia, and my contacts in industry, helpful as they have been, have not yielded results.
If you realize that HR is not going to help you, then the corollary is that you have to look elsewhere for help. If your professors are of no help, then you need to plug into a new network. Have you done any of the things I suggested earlier (like talk to people at industry conferences, go to chamber of commerce events, etc)?
jk
jk is offline
#89
Sep8-11, 05:05 PM
P: 141
The problem with large schools like UT Austin is that physics Ph.D.'s can use the good career services. UT Austin has very good contacts in the financial industry, but those are in the McCombs Business School for MBA's, and I was told specifically that because I was natural sciences, that I would not be allowed to use MBA career services (I even offered to pay them).
I think you meant "physics PhD's can't" use the good career services. Yeah, MBA schools can be a bit territorial but there are ways around that. Audit an MBA class and network with some of the students. Then ask them to get you information from the career services (like which companies are hiring, when they are coming to campus etc and also access to the job listings).

One thing that I learned is don't consider people enemies. HR people have a job to do. Their job is to get rid of you. Also, one thing that helps a lot for Ph.D.'s is to write a resume that confuses HR. If an HR person sees that you have a Ph.D. and has no clue what you did, they might forward your resume to someone that has some clue, at which point you've gotten over the first hurdle.
Of course, they are not literal enemies. But people let the HR job description fool them into thinking that HR is there to facilitate job applicants' access to information.

I haven't read that book, so I don't know about it, but I've found that other books about resume writing and job searching often get it wrong. For example, a lot of books say that you should write your resume so that the reader will understand what you did, but if you are a Ph.D. looking for a Ph.D. position, you should write your resume so that the average person *doesn't* have much of a clue what you did.
I have read a lot of job search books as well and this one is the one I found the most useful. It does a good job of breaking the illusion that mass mailing of resumes is effective.
ParticleGrl
ParticleGrl is online now
#90
Sep9-11, 08:57 AM
P: 669
What was the feedback you got from the jobs you were rejected for? Did you get any?
The feedback I get is consistently that other candidates had more experience doing X (where X is some technical technique/skill that is needed for the job) than I did. Generally, this is no doubt true, because odds are I self taught whatever I thought I needed as I was applying for the job. (My theory phd didn't give me much in the way of what industry might want).

This is starting to make me worried that engineering/science industry jobs are NOT what I should be applying for (despite being what I would like to do, and despite having a physics phd), because they seem to care more about experience with some technique than a broad background/trainable.


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