Career Advice For Final Year Physics Student (UK)

  • #1
Hi Everyone,

As the title suggests, I'm looking for some career advice. I want to go into software development (but feel free to suggest any other areas where I might be a good fit, I've also been looking at risk analysis positions). I have experience in a bunch of different areas but it feels like I'm not specialised enough.

My internship in a data science team also looks a bit suspicious. While there, I ended up working on a Python automation project and didn't do any modelling, just some basic courses on ML and stats. My bank internship involved lots of stuff, but none of it was too sophisticated. Other that that, and following my Physics curriculum with computational focus, I learned some algorithms and data structures. Recently I've also dabbled with Docker and some more Linux.

My CV:
https://ibb.co/0CzmGHQ
https://docdro.id/FHtFN5K
(OOP Programming should be OOP in C++)

Is this good enough to get me an entry level position in the field? Any advice/feedback is appreciated. Thanks for your time.
 

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Answers and Replies

  • #2
berkeman
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Welcome to PF.

I didn't read your CV yet, but it sounds like you have a good amount of experience so far. What has been the initial feedback from recruiters?
 
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  • #3
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Regarding your CV, I would move the work experience above education.

I find the first and third bullets under education to be poor and/or unnecessary. The third might be relevant with some details about what you did.

For the Aviva work, what do you mean by "improve efficiency across data flow"? Did you reduce the time it takes to run? Then put how much. Did you reduce the amount of data pulled? How much? If you automated software, how much did you reduce the time spent or effort needed?

For Lloyds, can you speak at all to what impact your analysis had? You presented insights, but did they lead to action?
 
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  • #4
Welcome to PF.

I didn't read your CV yet, but it sounds like you have a good amount of experience so far. What has been the initial feedback from recruiters?
Hello,

Thanks for replying, the ones I spoke to said it's good but I didn't talk to that many. I have a lot of experience for Data Analyst/Data Scientist types of positions. However, I prefer classic software development, ideally within defence industry. I will apply to some interesting data positions but my main area of interest is Software Engineering.

Regarding your CV, I would move the work experience above education.

I find the first and third bullets under education to be poor and/or unnecessary. The third might be relevant with some details about what you did.

For the Aviva work, what do you mean by "improve efficiency across data flow"? Did you reduce the time it takes to run? Then put how much. Did you reduce the amount of data pulled? How much? If you automated software, how much did you reduce the time spent or effort needed?

For Lloyds, can you speak at all to what impact your analysis had? You presented insights, but did they lead to action?
Thank you for feedback, I appreciated it. I will implement your suggestions, in Aviva I improved the runtime of some parts of our programme, sometimes by more than 50%, mainly using zip and itertuples. I worked on a large project that was still ongoing at the time of my departure, but once completed, it will save millions every year.

For Lloyds it's a bit harder to turn my work into some numbers. The work of my team led to a wider re-evaluation of some profile profit metrics within motor finance and more coherent Business Intelligence being produced, but I can't put any number on that. How would you include this within my CV?

About education bullet points, I agree. Since physics is the problem solving degree I felt compelled to include something about that. I am surprised by your suggestion to move education down. What's your rationale for that (I will do that anyway, but want to see your thought process)?

Thanks for all suggestions. Feel free to point out more things to improve.
 
  • #5
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Hello,

I will implement your suggestions, in Aviva I improved the runtime of some parts of our programme, sometimes by more than 50%, mainly using zip and itertuples. I worked on a large project that was still ongoing at the time of my departure, but once completed, it will save millions every year.

Nice! That's the thing about Python - when it comes to run speed, it's super janky. Two different methodologies that look, at face value, identical can have speed differences of 50, 150, 1000 times. What you did for speed was important and I'd include a bullet point on it. As for savings I think it would be fair to state something like "Project expected to save X annually when delivered". This would work best if you could give some rough idea of why it would do so when asked.

For Lloyds it's a bit harder to turn my work into some numbers. The work of my team led to a wider re-evaluation of some profile profit metrics within motor finance and more coherent Business Intelligence being produced, but I can't put any number on that. How would you include this within my CV?

It's hard to value that, and frankly valuation is often avoided due to difficulty. What you wrote there is already more detailed than what you have, and I'd add it (without being too specific about which metrics). One of the things I'm proud of I've done recently at my job is change the metrics we use to measure success; it's important and may catch an interviewer's eye.

I am surprised by your suggestion to move education down. What's your rationale for that (I will do that anyway, but want to see your thought process)?
Well definitely get a second opinion! I do have some background here - I've been in analytics (in one form or another) for ~13 years and have led the hiring process in some positions. However, different hiring managers have different opinions, and there could be cultural differences at play (I'm in the US).

When I look at your CV, your internships have more value than your education, and so I want readers to see them as quickly as possible. Your education checks a box, and could create some interest, but it doesn't make you hirable.

Best wishes!
 
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  • #6
When I look at your CV, your internships have more value than your education, and so I want readers to see them as quickly as possible. Your education checks a box, and could create some interest, but it doesn't make you hirable
That's kind of sad to hear. The more I look at it the more it seems to me that physics degree is a worthless piece of paper. It feels pretty bad, given how many people in the past told me that it's good for employment.

Well, now it's irrelevant, as I was thankfully smart and lucky enough to get some experience and learn something other than physics.

Thanks for your help, really appreciate it.
 
  • #7
Vanadium 50
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In that sense, ALL degrees are worthless pieces of paper. People don't get jobs as a reward for their degrees. People get jobs because they know how to do something that can make money for their employer.
 
  • #8
gmax137
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In that sense, ALL degrees are worthless pieces of paper. People don't get jobs as a reward for their degrees. People get jobs because they know how to do something that can make money for their employer.
True, but very hard for a 20-something who has been in school since age 6 to believe/accept.
 
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  • #9
Vanadium 50
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True, but very hard for a 20-something who has been in school since age 6 to believe/accept.
Then someone should say something. Oh, wait... :wink:
 
  • #10
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That's kind of sad to hear. The more I look at it the more it seems to me that physics degree is a worthless piece of paper. It feels pretty bad, given how many people in the past told me that it's good for employment.
I think it's sadder that there are folks who, decades later, are still defined by their degrees.

Would you have gotten those internships while getting a creative writing or public health degree? Would you have the same skills you have now with those other degrees?

I'm not saying there's certainty around your future, but honestly I feel pretty good about it. I see hard work and willingness to try new things, which often pays off. There might be more efficient ways of getting where you're going, but are they more interesting? How do you know for sure you'd still end up where you want to be? How much do you value diversity of (your) experience on this planet?

Measure wisely.

Best wishes in your journey.
 
  • #11
CrysPhys
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OP: Resume practices vary with locale, so advice from someone experienced with UK practice (such as an experienced UK recruiter) should be dispositive. I'm only familiar with US practices, so my advice is not dispositive. But here are some comments for you to at least mull over.

* How your resume should be structured depends on whether you're a newbie grad or an experienced worker. For a newbie grad, I would expect "education" to be at the top, since I would not expect much work experience under typical circumstances. "Education" sets baseline qualifications for a newbie grad. On the other hand, for an experienced (post-grad) worker, I would expect "work experience" to be at the top.

* It's critical that your resume makes it clear at first glance whether you're a newbie grad or an experienced worker (or, some other category such as a worker with lower-level experience who then went onto university to advance his education), since that sets the expectations of the hiring manager. Since your target graduation date is June 2022, and since you'll most likely be shipping out your resume prior to graduation, I think it would be highly confusing if you were to lead off with "work experience" and place "education" at the end: a hiring manager would erroneously get the initial impression that you were an experienced worker, rather than a newbie grad.

* I would make it clear that the heading "Work Experience" explicitly refers to "Work Experience: Internships while in School", or some such suitable wording. You do mention "Internship" under individual listings, but I think it should be highlighted in the heading, again to make it clear that you're a newbie grad, and not an experienced worker. From dates of service at Aviva and Capgemini, a hiring manager can surmise that those were summer internships. But the dates of service for Lloyds are Sep 2020 - Jun 2021. Obviously, not just a short summer stint; but what was it? Full time? Part time? A hiring manager will not take the time to sort all this out.
 
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  • #12
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How your resume should be structured depends on whether you're a newbie grad or an experienced worker.
This is true. It should vary for lots of other reasons as well, such as what their skills and experience are like and what industry they're applying to. I also think ChrysPhys point about noting whether the work is full or part time is a good one.

However, when it comes to order, there is no rule here that everyone has to follow, and different hiring managers will respond differently to the resumes (assuming they ever even see them, which is not always the case).

Putting the work first could confuse someone and result in the resume getting tossed. On the other hand, with the physics degree first many hiring managers will toss the resume before they ever saw the experience (and it's very applicable experience). It's a matter of deciding what the odds are each way.

I think the basic argument CrysPhys is making is reasonable, but unconvincing. Needless to say, updating the content is probably most important.
 
  • #13
Thanks everyone for their comments and advise. I will keep my education at the top for now, since that's the standard for UK.
But the dates of service for Lloyds are Sep 2020 - Jun 2021. Obviously, not just a short summer stint; but what was it? Full time? Part time? A hiring manager will not take the time to sort all this out.
It was an industrial placement, just a year long internship. It was completely unrelated to my degree, but I needed to write a report to summarize the experience. I should change internship to industrial placement there.
On the other hand, with the physics degree first many hiring managers will toss the resume before they ever saw the experience (and it's very applicable experience).
I suppose I can send CV with experience at the top to places that don't explicitly state physics as one of the accepted degrees.

Thanks everyone for their input, you are all golden.
 
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