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Engineering Can I get back into science/engineering after leaving?

  1. Feb 25, 2012 #1
    A tiny bit of background- a few years back I finished a phd in theoretical physics. I've spent the last few years pumping out resumes looking for work in a traditional technical field (I'm interested in any industry work where some knowledge of physics is useful). In the meantime, I've been making ends meet by tending bar.

    This afternoon, a job for a large health insurance company sort of fell into my lap. Its essentially a data mining job. I'm almost certainly going to take it, but if I do am I killing off any chance of moving into a more science/engineering oriented job?

    Are there science/engineering fields where a physics background coupled with insurance/data mining skills will make me more desirable?
  2. jcsd
  3. Feb 25, 2012 #2
    I would guess any science that generates a lot of data - and that's any science (isn't it!?) In one job I had we were looking for people to analyse a lot of user interface data, and someone with general data mining skills would have fitted the bill. In the end we had to hire someone without that background.

    I would think this would be a great job for future prospects. *Might* even get you into analysing physics data...
  4. Feb 25, 2012 #3


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    I think when you are looking for jobs in the future, having this data mining job on your resume will certainly look better than tending bar. Go fo it.
  5. Feb 25, 2012 #4
    I wouldn't be so sure :) I got this job by chatting with a customer at the resort on a slow Wednesday. Turns out, he was in for a conference, we got to talking about problems with data and the next day he had a recruiter call me with a job offer. Maybe I should just wait until the resort hosts an engineering conference :)
  6. Feb 25, 2012 #5
    NO YOU FOOL! Take it! And i hope that was sarcasm on your last part too... TAKE THE DAM JOB BECAUSE EXPERIENCE >NOTHING!

    You can do physics field any other time but right now you should get a job!
  7. Feb 25, 2012 #6
    I was (hopefully obviously) joking about waiting for an engineering conference. I do, however, resent the idea that being a bartender is somehow not a job. Plenty of bartenders make more than science postdocs. I do agree that data mining experience will (hopefully) be more relevant to the sort of job I want, but working in a bar isn't something that gives you "NOTHING!"
  8. Feb 25, 2012 #7


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    PG, I really don't know enough about data mining to answer your question with any authority, but I do want to say *Congrats*!

    Oh and, in my un-authoritative opinion: yeah, you should definitely take it. The reason you haven't been able to find work you want is because those jobs aren't there right now. Will they come back? Who knows. But it's better to be working in a mathy-technical field while we wait to see if they do.
  9. Feb 25, 2012 #8
    You gotta eat to live. Take the job.

    That said, I am in no position to tell you that you'll be able to get a job working on research. However, you are more than qualified to work on it on the side as an amateur. That's often all it takes to get your foot in the door.
  10. Feb 25, 2012 #9
    I wanted to second what lisab said with another Congrats. Good luck with everything.
  11. Feb 25, 2012 #10


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    Congratulations ParticleGrl!

    This kind of job I imagine will lead to many other potential roles in the future if thats the route you want to take.

    Analyzing data is a very big growth industry because there is now so much data but no-one to analyze it effectively. I think these skills could be applied in many areas including scientific ones, so its a great thing you got this job.
  12. Feb 25, 2012 #11
    Glad to hear this. I've read on many threads that you were on the lookout for something more technical, and it was a bit sad for someone trained in pretty intense stuff not to find a somewhat technical job (it wouldn't have been sad if you preferred bartending though).
  13. Feb 26, 2012 #12


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    The central limit theorem is related to renormalization, so you will already be working in QFT;)
  14. Feb 26, 2012 #13
    Would you enjoy the new job more than your current one? Any number of factors could weigh on the decision: more interesting, better pay, better hours, better opportunities in the future, etc. If you find the factors are more in favor of the new job, then take it! If not, don't!

    I would say that if you are looking to get back into a technical position then data mining is probably more relevant than bartending. However, if what you want to do in science/engineering is not even close to data mining AND you happen to like your current position then maybe its best just to wait.

    I'm at the point career wise where benefits such as flexible schedules and time-off are important to me. I would willingly take a less interesting job if it meant I had that flexibility. In the end, it is all about what is more important to you.

    Good luck!
  15. Feb 27, 2012 #14
    Good point - I know a philosophy graduate who started as a checkout person. He's now CEO for the same retailer and earning ten times as much as most physics professors! You might be better staying and working your way up. Do your employers have a fast track management programme?
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