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Help. I have a BS in Physics and a BS in Computer Engineering. I'm Depressed.

  1. May 28, 2008 #1
    Hi PF,

    As stated in the title, I'm loaded with degrees; plus a minor degree in Japanese Studies. I'm not being boastful or anything but I would like you to understand why I am depressed.

    I was very happy while I took up Physics for four years, I particularly enjoyed the laboratory work, where I had to be very resourceful for my thesis to work out. I enjoyed research and development. Then I decided to add another degree, which is computer engineering. This is where I learned the wonders of electronics. For many DIY'ers and enthusiasts, Physics and Computer engineering is a one-two punch for pure inventive fun in the garage. However, this combination has brought me so much regret over my choice of career.

    You see guys, from where I live, we only have IT companies, and it seems only they are willing to take in physics majors. Now I don't have anything against computers or anything, but It's just that, I don't really feel i belong here. The thing with IT companies is, programming only takes 10% of the time, the rest of the time you follow processes, guidelines standards, and other stupid rules. IT companies fail to satisfy my hunger for innovation. Yes, you can innovate in an IT company, but most of the time, these innovations can only be done on processes (example: how to become more productive with the use of a new desktop app). It's driving me crazy.Further more, If i really wanted to be in IT in the first place, i would have just skipped college altogether because hardcore programming is something i learnt while i was 15. I could've spared the 5 years i spent taking those two degrees, and learned all facets of programming that I have not tackled. I'm feeling so much loss right now. I lost 5 years of my life.

    I want to quit IT. It pays me mediocre salary to be in IT. but if i wanted to be a professor, i'd earn half as much as I would in IT.

    PF, I hope i didn't sound boastful or anything, but these are just my thoughts. please comment on my post. I'm typing this from my office desk. I do not belong here in IT, and this forums is the only place I could feel I fit in.... :(

    -- jerckomilicic
  2. jcsd
  3. May 28, 2008 #2
    Wow, snazzy thread title. Welcome to the PF, Jerc!

    So, you want to be a professor? Of physics or of computer engineering (or something else, perhaps)?

    Look, I don't like making sweeping statements, but I feel I have to: don't ever choose a career path for the money! So what if you're going to take a pay cut? Would you rather do something you dislike for x money, or something you love for x/2 money? Pursue what you want to do. Don't let a dollar sign control your happiness.
  4. May 28, 2008 #3
    Thanks for replying man. I looked up 'snazzy' and learned a new word! :)

    I don't like to become a professor... more like a researcher? a garage inventor?

    I understand your opinion on doing something you like over doing something for money.
    I promise, I'll really find a job where I would do what I wanted to do.

    However, for me to be able to really enjoy making stuff (robots, software, rockets, etc),
    i'll need money...

    I probably need to make a business first to fund my garage or something..

    Thanks for the welcome post!


  5. May 28, 2008 #4
    Well, if you become a professor, you'll be able to conduct research, but that can be obtrusive with teaching classes. The three main employers of researcher are the government, universities, and private companies. If you'd prefer not to have to teach, and just do pure research, I'm sure you could find a job in government research or private research. Getting a research position (in the US from what I've seen, anyway) usually entails having a PhD attached to your name.

    If you just like to dabble at home in your garage with gadgets and the like, if that's what you love most, then find a job that relates closest to that hobby/passion. There are plenty of companies creating robots for military and civilian use, an insane amount of software companies, so on. The point is, if you're crazy about something, chances are you can find a job relating to it. Any sort of engineer (software, computer, so on) usually makes pretty good money. I'm sure you can find a job close to what you love to do, and at the end of the day still have enough greenbacks to fund some garage creations.
  6. May 28, 2008 #5

    Ivan Seeking

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    Don't worry, in this crowd a couple of BS degrees won't be taken as bragging.

    I tried for a long time to make money by developing new products and systems[engineering/R&D], but I learned that: a good salesman can sell anything; the best product is often not what sells best; I'm not a salesman; you need a salesman if you want to develop new products; it all takes a lot of money; patents are often worthless. So instead of developing my own products, I decided to make a living developing products, systems, and processes for other companies that can afford to take the risks.

    I probably have one the worst and greatest jobs in the world. The pressure is terrible, I work far too many hours, often I don't get enough sleep [slept five hours last night], at times I have tremendous liability if something goes wrong [mistakes could kill people or do up to millions in damage], getting paid is sometimes a dogfight, and above all I have learned that there are no friends in business. But every day is a challenge, the work is rewarding, I get to work in industry of all kinds ranging from the NMD to a stealth boat, and from semiconductors to potato chips. I spend most of my time working at home. In many ways I couldn't ask for more. Innovation? I hardly see a day without it. In fact when the load got a little to heavy recently, for the first time I actually felt tired of inventing and being creative. THAT has never happened before.

    for reference: BS Physics with a strong background in EE, and lots of programming,
    Last edited: May 28, 2008
  7. May 28, 2008 #6
    Move. Simple enough.

    I grew tired of grad school in engineering for various reasons, and the whole point of me going to grad school was to get a job in the private space industry. I found out I didn't need a graduate degree for that, and bailed. I moved across the country to do it as well.

    Start looking up some engineering/design companies, I guarantee they would hire someone with your qualifications if you can sell your abilities in a short, targeted resume and cover letter.

    One company I stumbled upon recently was http://www.oceaneering.com/index.asp [Broken] They seem to be doing lots of cool stuff, some of it space related, some of it subsurface. I think they even have positions open for someone with your qualifications, you should be a shoe-in.

    Also check out other up and coming companies in an area that interests YOU.
    Last edited by a moderator: May 3, 2017
  8. May 29, 2008 #7
    Have you considered going to grad school? If you don't want to be a professor at the end of five years you can just take your PhD to industry and get a high paying job. It sounds like you miss all the lab work and other physics-ish stuff you did as an undergrad. If nothing else you'll get to do that for another five years.

    BTW: as has already been said, you don't have to worry about boasting. Half of us here most likely have two BS degrees in physics and math. The secret is that once you're a physics major, picking up the extra math degree is ridiculously easy.
  9. May 29, 2008 #8
    Hi guys, thank you for responding to my post...

    Move. That's a good, simple and direct way of solving my problem.

    And Ivan, thanks for sharing with us an insight on your work, It's a very detailed, and
    It changed my impression of developing for other companies (i used to think of myself as a
    code monkey in my company).

    About the Move..

    In the thick of my depression, I decided that I wanted to get back to learning new things. I have decided to get masters in Energy Engineering... I've looked at the curriculum and here are some courses under the masters:

    >Wind, Hydro, and Ocean energy Systems
    >Advanced Fluid Mechanics
    >Power Plant Technology
    >Waste Heat Recover & Cogeneration
    >Biochemical Reactor Design
    >Economic operation of power systems

    Any ideas on where I would end up in after i finish this? (it's a big leap from the IT industry I think)

    Dear PF, thanks for answering to my post. It's really nice to talk to a crowd who won't be offended when I talk about my degree and not fitting in IT.


  10. May 29, 2008 #9
    Why not try to get into NASA or something? Maybe you could be mission control, or do computer modeling of stuff?
  11. May 29, 2008 #10


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    Hi Jercko - welcome to PF!

    I think Energy Engineering would be a great degree to have. Very timely! Seeing as this decision was made in the midst of a depression, I'm impressed!

    As far as where you would work with that degree, my advice would be to make a lot of contacts as you earn your degree. I think the classes you take will give you an idea of where you want to go with this.

    And sorry to hear you're feeling down. Hang in there - you'll be on the upswing soon.
  12. May 29, 2008 #11
    Hi TR345, I'm doubtful if i could get to NASA, I come from a foreign country, the philippines. I'm not sure if my skills or background are enough to edge out Americas' best. :) You see TR, in our country, it's either we get call center jobs (and some of my physics major classmates took call center jobs) or we go to IT. That's why when I open up to some of my friends about my discontentment, they get offended and tell me that I should be happy that I even have a job. Most of them say that I should just shelf all those 4 years of taking up Physics and move on with IT. *Sigh*

    Thanks lisab! :)

    I'll try to remember your advice. My enrollment is in the second of june. This shotgun decision to take up masters might be something I should be cautious about though.

    On a side note...
    Hmmm I seem to have stated which country i'm from. bahh it's ok; There's no boundaries in Physics right? Being in this poor country, I look up mainly to the United States. It was there I had my formative growth as a kid and a teenager. It was in that country I got my greatest moment in physics research. All that is gone now. I'm back in the philippines, trying to get a decent living as an outsourced oracle dba.

    Thanks for hearin' me out PF.
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