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Physics Final year as an undergrad and starting to worry about jobs

  1. Oct 8, 2016 #1
    I am in my last year as an undergrad and will be graduating in the spring with a BS in Physics. I personally have terrible grades this including overall GPA and major specific GPA (currently around a 2.2 for both). At this point, bringing my GPA up is nearly impossible without some post baccalaureate schooling but I'm afraid that isn't possible with my grades and financially. I have looked into potential jobs and the only jobs that have seen for people with a BS in physics is either research or engineering but I feel like for both I will not be able to compete against engineers and people with a higher GPA than me. Experience wise, I have little to none because all of my time was spent on trying to be able to pay for college so I have not had the time to reach out and instead have worked on campus as a supervisor for the last 4 years.

    PS: The first question I usually get is why I chose physics in the first place and that is because it interested me at the classical and quantum levels but now that I have struggled and surprising learned the material, my interest has disappeared and now I want to work as an engineer.

    Thank you in advance for those that reply!
  2. jcsd
  3. Oct 8, 2016 #2
    It's going to be very hard for you to find a suitable job. You should really look for some more years of engineering eduction.
  4. Oct 9, 2016 #3


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    It sounds like you're focusing on engineering positions, and yes, you'll have a hard time competing with engineering graduates for those. It's not impossible, but I would recommend keeping your options open. You might want to check out the AIP page on who's hiring physics BScs.

    How is that "little to no experience?" It might not be in engineering, but supervising people demonstrates a certain level of responsibility and organization that other entry level candidates are not likely to have. Perhaps you could build on this aspect of your life and look into something like project management?
  5. Oct 10, 2016 #4


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    micromass, that's easier said than done. At least in Canada, engineering programs are often limited enrollment programs, allowing only a select number of students per year (I don't know about the situation in the US, assuming that is where the OP is from, but let's assume the situation is similar for argument's sake).

    If the OP states that he/she has exceptionally poor grades, what makes you think he/she will even be allowed into the program to complete his/her education in that field?

    To the OP:

    If I were you, I would give up on pursuing a career in either engineering or physics, given that you've struggled to such an extent in your studies (as I'm not convinced that you wouldn't struggle as much if not more in an engineering program). Instead, I would leverage your current experience as a supervisor to see if you can apply to positions or jobs that can effectively use the skills you have gained in that area (e.g. soft skills, communication skills, etc.). I would think that business analysis would be one such area that could open up for you, there may well be others.

    Another question I would ask of you: how strong are your programming skills? As a physics graduate, I would expect you to possess at least some programming skills. If not, I would strongly encourage you to either take CS courses in school now or study programming on your own (perhaps through Coursera or edX), and work on some open-source projects, and set up a Github account to post such code, to demonstrate your expertise. If you can combine programming skill with your experience as a supervisor, then project management jobs may open up for you.
  6. Oct 10, 2016 #5
    Check out missile defense companies. Lockheed, general dynamics, torch technologies, etc. I've seen a lot of ads that mention physics degrees with them.
  7. Oct 10, 2016 #6
    Sorry for the late responses to everyone with a question, I wanted to talk to my adviser before replying so I had a better understanding of my current situation.

    Choppy: I have thought about using the supervisor skills that I have learned to help with my future job search but never could think of any real application and uses for these skills within jobs. My adviser actually said something similar and that the leadership skills will look good across the board for most cases. Also what exactly is project management?

    Statguy2000: I honestly did not even think about programming and writing code as an option after college when I started this post. My programming skills include knowing Python, C++, and C pretty well, managing to get A's in the four computer science classes that I did take, but those are the only three. I have not even seen any of the other languages used in programming since my focus was not programming even though I am currently two classes shy from a minor in CS. My adviser has told me that the programming classes will help and that if I look at the right places, a job should not be as difficult to find as I am thinking.
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