## Engineering PhD: frustrated and unemployed

 Quote by NegativeDept I'm glad to see people talking openly about this. Has everyone here read about "FizzBuzz" yet? I'd post links, but I'm not allowed to yet because I'm new to PhysicsForums. (Google "FizzBuzz" and click any of the top results.) One of the astro grad students in my department gave an informal talk about finding a career outside academia with a physics PhD. The short version: "Learn to write working code. It doesn't need to be amazing - just logical and clearly readable. Apply for lots of programming jobs." He's obviously biased towards coding because he makes a ton of money as a lead programmer at a private company that has nothing to do with astrophysics. But I suspect it's still good advice. Anyone here have some good success/fail stories or related wisdom?
On being able to code:

You should surely know that if you want to make anywhere near 50k or more, your job will be sitting at a desk. The world has changed since the 1950s. Modern desks usually have a computer sitting on top of them. Not being able to code at all states one of two things:

1. Coding is beneath me, I want a personal coding ***** that forges my highly valuable ideas into code.

2. Im delusional enough to actually believe that my future job will be me sitting in a shiny office that contains a comfortable bed on which ill lie down while trying to perform thoughts that all the other employees are too stupid to perform.

While this might not be what you think, this is the impression a hiring manager will have of you. Get your coding skills. Doesnt have to be much. You dont have to be able to code a kernel from scratch. But please, do yourself the favor of picking up rudimentary C++ skills. Show goodwill. Thats all there is to it. Not being able to code is not a big deal. The impression you make saying so is.

Other than that, a physicist who took his theoretical coursework seriously and can code has the best marketable skillset of any graduate. At that point, if you dont get a job, the economy is either at a point where youd rather have learned farming or its something about your character that is just so much off that nobody will give you a job.

 Quote by Wayn3 On being able to code: Other than that, a physicist who took his theoretical coursework seriously and can code has the best marketable skillset of any graduate.
I hope so, because that's me and I'm about to finish my PhD!

Though like many physicists, "can code" comes with a caveat: we tend to be idiot savants. I suspect that, from a professional programmer's point of view, much of our work looks like cute little single-text-file programs with nightmarishly complicated numerical algorithms.

Examples: I wrote an RSA key generator for fun, but I've never coded a GUI. I can simulate sample paths of stochastic differential equations on Lie groups, but I can't write an iPhone app. Do most employers consider that impressive, embarrassing, or both?

 Quote by NegativeDept Examples: I wrote an RSA key generator for fun, but I've never coded a GUI. I can simulate sample paths of stochastic differential equations on Lie groups, but I can't write an iPhone app. Do most employers consider that impressive, embarrassing, or both?
I don't know...I'd like to know the answer to that!

 You're not alone. I had to leave grad school in November after getting diagnosed with Manic Depressive disorder. Since then I have racked up $6000 in debt with 2 interviews and 2 rejections, I'm feeling pretty bad myself. At least you have a part time job to keep you going, I got shafted on that too :(. I hate saying "have faith", because I think that's a bunch of garbage, but the consequences of giving up are far worse that toughing it out. Good luck, you arent alone.  Quote by ilmareofthemai I don't know...I'd like to know the answer to that! It depends on the organization. You'd do well to apply to research and engineering companies, rather than to places like Zynga and Dropbox.  Quote by Aero51 You're not alone. I had to leave grad school in November after getting diagnosed with Manic Depressive disorder. Since then I have racked up$6000 in debt with 2 interviews and 2 rejections, I'm feeling pretty bad myself. At least you have a part time job to keep you going, I got shafted on that too :(. I hate saying "have faith", because I think that's a bunch of garbage, but the consequences of giving up are far worse that toughing it out. Good luck, you arent alone.
I'm sorry to hear about your struggles. I wish you nothing but the best.

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