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How do I narrow my focus?

  1. May 10, 2010 #1
    Even though, it is two years off, I need to start thinking about what I want to do with BS in Physics/math minor. Time will fly, I'm sure. Right off the bat, I'd like to get into graduate school if my grades are good enough. Frankly, I go to an upper-level Tier 2 school. Ideally, I'd like to get into a lower-level Tier 1 school. But that's down the road.

    I really need to figure out what career I want and in what field or industry. A guy at work said you can basically break it down into three categories: research, engineering, manager. I suspect I fall in between research and engineering. More importantly, though, I need to find a field that interests me. How should I go about that?
  2. jcsd
  3. May 10, 2010 #2


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    I would encourage you to explore possible areas of interest by taking a variety of courses. If you can get it, do some work (paid or volunteer) for a professor. You don't always have to pick a project in the field you intend to go into. Sometimes the biggest thing you and learn is that you're not cut out for a field. The point is to get as much experience as possible so that your choice of direction after undergrad is as informed as possible.

    The other thing I would suggest is reading. As you move into senior level classes, you should also start reading publications like Science, Nature, and Physics Today, as they cover not only "hot" research, but also tend to be a little more favourable to a general audience (as opposed to specific academic journals). Read the articles and then talk with your classmates and professors about them.
  4. May 10, 2010 #3
    Thanks for the reply. Well, all my classes are laid out until I graduate. In addition to the physics core, my physics electives will probably be Intro to Solid Sate and Intro to Particle Physics. I just finished my first upper-level course - Modern Physics I. Next semester will be MP II (Quantum) and Intermediate Mechanics. Reading the publications is a good idea. Perhaps I'll get a subscription. Any of the ones mentioned politically biased? Off the top of my head, an area I think that interests me is high-energy research. That's one of the reasons why I need/want to take the introductory particle physics class. I think seeing what's out there will help me decide. I just need to know where to look.
  5. May 11, 2010 #4
    Your university should have a site subscription to journals, you can either get a list of subscribed journals from your library or IT service or you can just go poking around and see which journals give you access.

    Otherwise, like Choppy says. You could also even buy some popular science subscriptions like New Scientist or the like, and if you find something fascinating do a bit more reading to see what's involved - the same applies with any material you're given in classes. It took me a long time to figure out what I wanted to do, though I thought I had made my decision in the second year of university I changed my mind right at the end. So, take your time, don't mentally commit to any one career path until you're right there at the end applying though it is good to make some aims and goals.
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