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Job Skills I finally got my bachelor's degree in physics, now what?

1,791
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as much as i love the physics department where i graduated, they didn't do a very good job at preparing us for what to do after getting our BS. i don't remember anyone talking to us about graduate school or the work field.
This reminds me of a good story. It happened over 15 years ago, when I was just about to get my BS. I needed to get a job, so I set up time to sit down with my undergraduate advisor.

I explained to him that I was pursuing the Navy and Air Force as options, and that I had applied to a handful of local companies. However, I felt that I needed to widen my net. Did he have any suggestions for companies I should apply to that might fit my skill set?

He nodded as I spoke, and sat thoughtfully for a few moments after I finished, rubbing his chin. Finally he replied.

"No."
 

symbolipoint

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This reminds me of a good story. It happened over 15 years ago, when I was just about to get my BS. I needed to get a job, so I set up time to sit down with my undergraduate advisor.

I explained to him that I was pursuing the Navy and Air Force as options, and that I had applied to a handful of local companies. However, I felt that I needed to widen my net. Did he have any suggestions for companies I should apply to that might fit my skill set?

He nodded as I spoke, and sat thoughtfully for a few moments after I finished, rubbing his chin. Finally he replied.

"No."
Locrian,
Sad! Your advisor had no actual normal job with any company with which to give you any counsel. He could have had only academic experience and an advanced maybe PhD degree. I am now curious what kind of progress YOU made since that advisor meeting. You may now have advice to give about this.
 
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This reminds me of a good story. It happened over 15 years ago, when I was just about to get my BS. I needed to get a job, so I set up time to sit down with my undergraduate advisor.

I explained to him that I was pursuing the Navy and Air Force as options, and that I had applied to a handful of local companies. However, I felt that I needed to widen my net. Did he have any suggestions for companies I should apply to that might fit my skill set?

He nodded as I spoke, and sat thoughtfully for a few moments after I finished, rubbing his chin. Finally he replied.

"No."
ha. excellent advice.

and i lied. i remember one instructor that went out of his way to talk to us about future jobs. he usually only told us reasons he would fire us though, which is still valuable.
 

Zap

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This reminds me of a good story. It happened over 15 years ago, when I was just about to get my BS. I needed to get a job, so I set up time to sit down with my undergraduate advisor.

I explained to him that I was pursuing the Navy and Air Force as options, and that I had applied to a handful of local companies. However, I felt that I needed to widen my net. Did he have any suggestions for companies I should apply to that might fit my skill set?

He nodded as I spoke, and sat thoughtfully for a few moments after I finished, rubbing his chin. Finally he replied.

"No."
I asked my "advisor" about where I should apply for jobs. He recommended me to apply to the FBI, the military and the boarder patrol. I guess those are viable options, but I was kind of disappointed with his response. My dad would have told me the exact same thing. "Join the armed forces, boy."

One of my professors actually recommended going the financial route and another into geophysics, which I thought was better advice and better suited my interests.

I did apply to the CIA and FBI, though.
 
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I am now curious what kind of progress YOU made since that advisor meeting. You may now have advice to give about this.
I - like lots of others - built my career the way one hacks their way through the jungle with a machete. Tirelessly, and often without clear direction.

Looking back, it seems pretty clear how I got here and what I should have done. Looking forward, I'm as unsure as I've ever been, with my only consolation that I've managed to get this far.
 

StatGuy2000

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I - like lots of others - built my career the way one hacks their way through the jungle with a machete. Tirelessly, and often without clear direction.

Looking back, it seems pretty clear how I got here and what I should have done. Looking forward, I'm as unsure as I've ever been, with my only consolation that I've managed to get this far.
This reply, as well as @Locrian 's reply in post #76 (along with others in this thread) pinpoints the issue of faculty members trying to advise students on non-academic career paths -- unless these faculty advisers have experience working in industry as physicists (and frankly, given that most research in physics departments are only tangentially related to anything in industry, the majority would not have such experience), physics professors are the least equipped to provide guidance or advice in this matter.

I know that in my alma mater (University of Toronto), there is a program called a Physics Career Accelerator Program that is supposed to provide just such mentorship to guide students in future careers. Here is a link below.

 

Zap

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You guys want to hear another funny story? The physics department head where I am neglected to inform me that I had to take a comprehensive oral examination, even when I had asked him. Therefore, I wasn't able to graduate lol.
 

symbolipoint

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You guys want to hear another funny story? The physics department head where I am neglected to inform me that I had to take a comprehensive oral examination, even when I had asked him. Therefore, I wasn't able to graduate lol.
?
?

Once in a while, people communicate badly.

Once in a while, people SEEM to communicate badly.
 

Vanadium 50

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You guys want to hear another funny story? The physics department head where I am neglected to inform me that I had to take a comprehensive oral examination, even when I had asked him. Therefore, I wasn't able to graduate lol.
You are telling me that there was a requirement that was not listed in the course catalog, and you were held to it? I find this very, very hard to believe.
 

Dr. Courtney

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This reminds me of a good story. It happened over 15 years ago, when I was just about to get my BS. I needed to get a job, so I set up time to sit down with my undergraduate advisor.

I explained to him that I was pursuing the Navy and Air Force as options, and that I had applied to a handful of local companies. However, I felt that I needed to widen my net. Did he have any suggestions for companies I should apply to that might fit my skill set?

He nodded as I spoke, and sat thoughtfully for a few moments after I finished, rubbing his chin. Finally he replied.

"No."
My advice tends to be closely tailored to the individual student. I'm not a fan of shotgunning every possible idea given the time and effort required for each job application if done right. All physics majors approaching graduation are not the same. Abilities, GPA, interests, and background can narrow the field considerably regarding jobs I recommend applying for.
 

Zap

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I was initially in the accelerated program and I read what was written in the course catalog, but after passing the quals at the PhD level, I went into the Department Head's office and I asked him what else I needed to do to graduate. He told me that was it. He said master students do not have to take a oral comprehensive, even though it is written in the course catalog. I took his word for it and didn't take it. So, you could try to put the blame on me, but I think everyone here can agree that I was horribly advised.

Anyway, on a very positive note. I got into a free Data Science and Analytics 12 week training program. I am super excited! I will have to leave for the training next week, and somehow fly back to this crappy department and take the oral, and then fly back to complete the training. Finding a job is my number one priority, not passing a random exam. So, if the exam gets in the way, than I won't be taking it.
 

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