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Engineering How can a junior physics major prepare for software jobs

  1. Sep 27, 2016 #1
    I’m currently a third year physics major who has realized that grad school probably isn’t the right path, as I’ve become anxious to finish school and start doing something more productive. I want to know what I should be doing now in order to be a good candidate for software engineering jobs after the bachelors degree.
  2. jcsd
  3. Sep 27, 2016 #2


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    John004, in order to best answer your question above, we need some more background information. Have you taken many computer science courses? What is your background with respect to programming? Do you have any experience in software development or programming in the work place (say, as part of an internship or summer job)?

    Depending on the answers to the questions above, I would focus on (a) taking more CS courses if possible, (b) build on your existing knowledge of programming on your own, say by taking courses through Coursera or edX (including posting any code in an open-source forum such as Github), and (c) pursue an internship in the following summer in a software engineering or software development role.

    I would also investigate any conferences related to software development/engineering and network with people working in such roles. Others can chime in any additional advice.
  4. Sep 27, 2016 #3
    Hi StayGuy2000, thanks for answering. I haven't taken any computer science classes. The only programming I know are the bits that I had to pick up for routine data analysis in my physics labs. I've also never done an internship or anything else that would be considered valuable experience apart from perhaps learning how to write some really basic games on python.
  5. Sep 27, 2016 #4
    Statguy gave all the good advice but another route is to work in an experimental or computational lab, since that typically involves a lot of programming.

    There is also a big open source movement in computational biology, so computational biophysicists often write codes that are put on github; good for your resume.
  6. Sep 28, 2016 #5


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    Then I would suggest taking computer science courses as electives (if need be, even taking an extra year in school to earn the equivalent of a minor), as well as spend time learning more programming languages (far beyond the routine data analysis in your physics labs). One of the most important things for working in software engineering is knowledge of algorithm design, & that's something that a CS or software engineering graduate will (or should) have a solid background in, so you'll need to gain at least some familiarity in that area.

    In addition, you said you've never done an internship -- apply for an internship!! I seriously do not understand why more students don't bother doing this as part of their education (it should be a requirement for graduation). If you start to prep your resume and check job from now until March, you should have a decent chance of landing an internship for the following summer.

    Another option is to pursue a REU in a physics lab focusing on computation or experimentation (as suggested by Crass_Oscillator), where you could hone in on your programming skills.
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