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Bachelors in Physics: Now where are these jobs I was told about?

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  1. Mar 29, 2014 #1
    When I switched to physics, it was mostly because I love science, and my major in journalism was going to numb my mind to an early grave, but also because frankly I needed to find a job that would make paying for an education a worthwhile investment. I am about to graduate from Shippensburg (one of a dozen or so schools that make up the state-school system in Pennsylvania) with a GPA a hair under a 3.5 and a degree in physics, with a math minor and some computer classes. I posted here looking for advice for grad school a while back but... well, after studying for hundreds of hours for the GRE, getting a dismal (<10 percentile) score, and getting rejected or having my application messed up(profs not submitting letters on time despite reminders) for most of my grad school applications, I'm a little disenchanted. So now I'm just hoping to find some decent job (being, a job that an adult with a college degree could at least pretend to feel somewhat proud of). Here's the problem: I don't want to teach.

    I don't have an engineering certification, or programming certifications, and I really don't want to be an actuary. What jobs am I even looking for? Everyone talks about engineering jobs but they all seem to require certifications in dozens of things I don't have (all sorts of troubleshooting certifications, error analysis certifications, etc.), never mind the fact that many of them -gasp- require to be a certified engineer (or EIT). Despite years of applying I've never managed to snag an internship, either. I'm finding the same thing with programming, and to be honest, I question my ability to do either. Even when it comes to physics, I feel I've learned nothing (granted, the GRE may have completely broken my will. I didn't realize it until last week but my grades, performance, and everything, academic and non academic, have dropped like a stone since that incident), and forgotten 80% of what little I did know, even though I haven't graduated yet.

    So... What does a mediocre physics student do? I certainly don't want to work at my "internship" (data entry at the Geological Survey) for the rest of my life.
     
    Last edited: Mar 29, 2014
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  3. Mar 30, 2014 #2
    No idea. Who told you about them? I've been watching people complain about the lack of jobs for BS in physics on this forum for years. Even done a bit of it myself, though you'd have to go back a decade to find it.

    First, get a job and stop being mediocre. Employers look for histories of success when hiring.

    While you're doing that, find a career you'd like to work in and create a plan of attack that will get you in it.
     
  4. Mar 30, 2014 #3

    462chevelle

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    Here in Oklahoma, most engineering/engineering tech jobs have bs in physics as a possible major. With Mechanical/Chemical/Electrical Engineers as the most sought. They pay well also, since its the "oilfield" industry. If thats the kind of people you want to work around.
     
  5. Mar 30, 2014 #4

    StatGuy2000

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    First of all, have you thought about re-taking the GRE again and possibly retaking any other senior courses, so that you at least have the option of pursuing graduate studies in physics at a later time? (assuming you're still interested in graduate school in physics) Because the truth is that a BS in physics alone won't really open too many doors for jobs -- you need to have some skills that current companies want and need.

    My suggestion for you is to pursue a terminal Masters degree in a separate but cognate field that actually has good employment prospects, such as computer science (this is probably the easiest for you, since you have already taken math and computer science courses), statistics (your current internship in data entry at the Geological Service will actually open doors in statistics/data mining), or in some engineering field like electrical or mechanical engineering.
     
  6. Mar 30, 2014 #5
    Maybe you should be a little more open-minded about what job you could do. Being an actuary might not be as bad as you'd think. It's not for everyone, so I'm not saying that's what you should do, but the point is that there might be things that you don't see as possibilities now that actually wouldn't be that bad if you gave it a try and looked into it more seriously. Even something like teaching, possibly. I never thought I would be interested in being an actuary until a couple years ago, but now it seems like a pretty good job to me, after looking into it. May or may not be what I end up doing.

    Programming skills are always good.
     
  7. Mar 30, 2014 #6
    I think it is that this mindset is common in physics.
    The reality then is discovered that just because applications from multiple majors are accepted doesnt mean that there are equal odds between those majors. If an employer is looking for someone to fill an engineering role it has become more common that they will choose an engineering graduate.
     
  8. Mar 30, 2014 #7
    Maybe I shouldn't say mediocre. Again, because of how the GRE went I've wound up with a not-so-pleasant opinion of my academic status. I'm probably considered a fairly good student, at least over all, but that's at a school where all of us do terribly and most classes are about putting in the time and getting higher failing grades than the other students. So even though I've got what probably amounts to an okay GPA, I feel like in the grand scheme of things I've got nothing on other graduates.

    I'm sorry, I can't do highschool teaching. I have no love for teaching, and I refuse to be one of those jaded, unhappy teachers who made my own high school experience so unpleasant. I'm looking into what it would take to get my EIT certification, or my programming certifications, I just don't know where to start other than that.
     
  9. Mar 30, 2014 #8
    Get an internship while you're still a student. It's a lot easier. Big perk of being a student. I struggled so much to finish my dissertation I wasn't able to take advantage of that.
     
  10. Mar 30, 2014 #9
    Well, I graduate in a month and a half, but I guess its worth checking in to
     
  11. Mar 31, 2014 #10
  12. Apr 8, 2014 #11

    BiGyElLoWhAt

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    Look man, I'm gonna lay it out for you: It doesn't sound like you're very enthused about this whole physics thing. I myself feel I have a passion for certain areas of physics: QME, accelerator/elementary particle physics, stuff like that.

    I'm persuing it, though. (I'm still an undergrad, so bare with me) I took intermediate mechanics with only calc 1 (lot's of time with the Lagrangian and various forms of Harmonic Oscillation), when I should've at least been through calc 3 and in diff eq. I took a 500 level course as a sophmore, because I wanted to learn how to design instruments, I wanted to know why setting up a circuit like this made it a differientiator.

    Don't take this the wrong way, I'm not trying to knock you at all, but if you don't have a passion for some particular area, then it's going to be difficult. I.M.O. physics isn't a money degree. You don't get a physics degree (especially stopping at a B.S.) expecting to make lots of money; that's what engineering degrees are for.

    My advice to you, assuming you do have a passion for some particular area, learn more about that. Study more. If you want to work in a physics field, expect to get at least an M.S. Retaking some senior courses sounds like very good advice, but for the gre, I would recommend going back farther than that. Friends of mine that took the gre talked about things like EMF being on there which is covered in 251 at my school (IPFW) and thats a 2nd year course, so covering your senior classes might not be good enough if you want to take the gre. I would try to sit in on some classes, I don't know how your school is about that, but refresh yourself. Look up the class syllibii online and brush up on the material, take the gre, and go to grad school for something that appeals to you. If you apply yourself, I'd venture to say you'll find something that works for you.

    Also, a lot of places (I hear) you can get paid to teach (college, not highschool), do research, and get your Masters/PhD, which would help make it economical.
     
  13. Apr 8, 2014 #12

    You know, you're right. I used to love physics, but ever since I hit these upper level classes where nothing makes sense and everyone seems ok with it, I've become.... disenchanted. Between that and the dreadful GRE score I feel like I'm heading out in May with just a piece of paper. I want to learn but I'm so lost I cant even ask questions in the classes, and that really does a lot to take the fun out of learning. Even academic masochists like science majors don't like to feel hopelessly dumb ALL the time, hahaha.

    To tell the truth, I'm an unfortunate mix of scientist and engineer (and designer and artist, but that's for a different day). If I could have afforded to go to a school that teaches engineering, I probably would have. Maybe I should have anyway. When I say a job in physics though I mean in an industry field though, not physics academia. If my last year in college has shown anything, it's that I'm not ready, or emotionally driven enough, to go to graduate school yet.
     
  14. Apr 9, 2014 #13

    BiGyElLoWhAt

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    I'm really sorry to hear that =[[
    But you know... Feeling helplessly stupid is the first step to understanding something new! =]
    And I would venture to say that that's why you signed your life to science in the first place. I'd really hate to see you give up on physics, but if it's not for you, then it's not for you. And being a 'mix' is perfectly fine, I'm a mix of scientist and musician. The important thing is that you do what you need to do. But I wouldn't give up on physics without a fight. Maybe you have fought, Idk. Whatever you decide, I wish you the best of luck.
     
  15. Apr 9, 2014 #14
    ^^ Thats an easy attitude to have when you are still an undergrad and haven't even got your first degree yet. I know this is kind of rude and I apoligize... but your post looks a little wide-eyed and naive to me.
     
  16. Apr 9, 2014 #15

    StatGuy2000

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    OK then. What would you suggest to the OP instead?
     
  17. Apr 9, 2014 #16
    I would suggest he not sign his life away to science. I also suggest that he takes the advice of somebody who has yet to even get his first degree with a huge grain of salt. Finally, I would suggest that he learn to accept that his education has not been as worthwhile an investment as he wanted and move on.
     
  18. Apr 9, 2014 #17

    StatGuy2000

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    Move on to what? If the OP's education has not been a worthwhile investment, then by that fact alone he/she will have a difficult time getting any type of employment (you are your own best example on this, based on your own posts here at PF). Then that would mean that he/she will have to seek further education or training.

    If you saw my post in this thread, I specifically suggested that the OP should seek a terminal Masters degree in computer science or statistics because (a) both of these fields are in demand, and (b) from what the OP has posted, he/she has a background in programming and a background in data entry (however lowly that job sounds, data entry is a good place to begin for breaking into statistics-related jobs). So perhaps it would be more useful if you could provide more specific advice that could help the OP.
     
  19. Apr 9, 2014 #18
    A different field like you suggest is a good idea. Or get an entry level job that doesn't require a degree.

    I was able to get a job in less than a year after taking my degrees off of my resume and applying to non-STEM positions. Had I not moved on in this manner I would be homeless.
     
  20. Apr 9, 2014 #19

    BiGyElLoWhAt

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    Hmmm... I guess we have 2 different opinions. I'm not telling him to sign his life away to science. If you reread what I wrote, you'll see I used that as a metaphor for joining the physics department, because from what I've seen, successful physicists have signed their lives way. I don't think he should just say ****it and walk away though. Yea, that'd be the easy thing to do, but whether or not that's the right decision is up to OP. All I know is this: once you walk away, say **** it, and shrug off the last 4 years of your life, earn a paycheck, and forget what little you did remember from you degree, it's gonna be a lot harder to get back in the game if OP re-realizes what got him/her into science in the first place, as opposed to trying to stick it out a little bit and see what happens. Plus taking a few lower level classes, in addition to getting you ready for the GRE (should you decide to take another stab), you might actually enjoy yourself... (again).
     
  21. Apr 9, 2014 #20

    BiGyElLoWhAt

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    but i guess i'm just naive...
     
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