Suggestions for what to do with my Ph.D.
This is my first post on PF, but I've been lurking for a while, and I hope the collective wisdom of the community can help me out in a moment of quarter-life crisis.
I'm in the terminal stages of finishing up my Ph.D. at a respectable but not superlative institution. I've been working in astrophysics, specifically in the area of instrumentation (even more specifically, I've built attitude sensors for a balloon-based telescope mission). I've determined that I don't want to remain in this field as a post-doc or try for a professorship or anything like that; I'm basically bored with the work and I'd like to do something else.
I want to be up-front about a certain less-than-desirable aspect of my CV, which has caused me a lot of personal grief. That is this: I don't have any publications. The major reason for this is that balloon-based missions have a very long life-cycle, and in order to collect enough data to actually do some science with, I'd have to be in grad school for another 3 or more years. I've already been here for 5 and I don't think I have 3 more years left in me. As I've said above, my work has been entirely in instrumentation (i.e. hardware, mechanical design, programming, etc.).
I'm considering a number of courses of action and I'd like to hear any input from others who might have gone through similar situations. Here are the general options that I'm thinking about:
1) Industry work: this is obviously the most alluring in financial terms (especially after the relative poverty of grad school). My question about this is: what kinds of opportunities are available for people with a physics Ph.D. I feel rather inadequate when I compare myself to people with, say, an engineering background, since where they focused on developing specific design skills, my work has required me to basically be a jack-of-all-trades to some extent. I can do a lot of things, and I even have a pretty good background in programming and certain design packages, but I'm worried about lacking whatever specific skill is considered hot right now. How have other people managed a transition like this?
2) Another branch of science: thanks to my friends in another department, I've kind of gotten attracted to computational biology and the idea of using my physics background in that context. Even prior to starting grad school, I had really wanted to do computational neuroscience, but for financial reasons I was not able to do this at my institution. Of course, I don't have a specific background in this field! I'm also worried that my lack of publications will kill me in any attempts to find work in another field of physics. Again, I would appreciate the insight of anyone who might have gone through this, and any advice on how to make this work.
3) Law school: this is another possibility that I've been thinking about. I know there are opportunities out there for people with mixed science/JD backgrounds. I'm worried about the fact that, while my undergrad GPA was respectable for the institution and majors that I had, it wasn't really all that awesome as far as law schools are concerned. My LSAT scores are solid. What I suspect this translates to is that the top schools are a reach for me, but I have a good chance at schools outside the top 14. What I'd like to know is whether having a science Ph.D. is any benefit in the admissions process, and whether not graduating from a top school would significantly impact my opportunities afterwards. Law school is a huge investment, so I want to be sure that if I'm going to do this, I know what I'm getting into.
4) Finance: I've recently heard the seductive call of various financial organizations recruiting on campus. I'm very attracted to the idea of mathematically modeling financial interactions but don't really know how to get started in this. If I decide to try this, how can I make myself an attractive applicant for quant positions and such?
5) Other: science writer, science and public policy, science and philosophy, ?: what can I say, I have a lot of diverse interests. I'm seriously open to any reasonable suggestions about what I can do with my degree.
I realize that this is a complex and fairly open-ended question; I'm basically trying to get a feel for some of the things that people pursuing various non-academic careers with a physics Ph.D. have done. Any and all information, suggestions, criticism, and so on would be super-terrific and much appreciated.