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

It's been 3 months so I'm sure this is still very early to "give up" on the job search, but I was wondering how other people did after their BS/BA in physics from college! The job search is for sure hard and I realized a little too late that I lacked some experience in CS. I wasn't planning on going to grad school after graduating, wanted to hop into industry because that's what my advisors and professors suggested me (thanks guys). It seems that I need to go to grad school anyway, and where I'm at right now is deciding on where to go. Part of me thinks about getting masters in electrical engineering or something like that. I hate that this is driven solely by the fact that I want a job though, so I'm going to be sleeping on that thought for a while, but I don't know what my physics degree can really do to me right now. I was wondering if anyone has similar experiences and how did they deal with it! What graduate program did you choose to go into after graduating? Also if you did land a job with a BS, if you don't mind me asking, what was it!
 
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Go to grad school. If your objective is to get a job you should think about an engineering masters. I know a lot of people who did that with a BS in physics. They had to catch up a little but it was fairly easy for most of them.
 

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I wouldn't say a master's degree is easy. I think it was one of the worst experiences of my life. Having a degree in applied math is not the worst thing ever. I think you should keep looking for a job before you commit yourself to more school. Sure, an MS in engineering will get you a job, but do you know what kind of work an electrical engineer does? How do you know you will like it or that it will be easy? I guarantee that it probably won't be easy, and if you end up hating it, it will be two years of hell for you.

Don't rush into the school thing. There are some business analyst or data analyst type positions that may hire you for your math skills and programming aptitude. It seems to be more rare these days, but I at least know one physics student who was hired as an engineer. There are other jobs that may hire you, like QC/QA technician or whatever. I would have joined the military if it wasn't for a brief period I had with mental health issues. Keep searching. School is not your only option.

I think I have a pretty good shot at a data analyst/business analyst role. I have had a few phone interviews for those kinds of positions, which is more progress than I've made when applying to R&D or associate scientist/engineer positions. If that doesn't work out, I had one offer to extract THC from weed. It's a pretty crumby job but at least somewhat related to my education, and there is promotion potential in extraction. If you can pass a background investigation, you can apply to the CIA or Department of Defense for just about anything you want. They seem to offer good training programs.

My suggestion is to give the school thing a break. You already committed four or five years of your life and tens of thousands of dollars to that crazy place. You came out with less than what you thought you would, and now they want you to go back. Give it some thought before you commit more of your time and money to that crazy place. Grad school will most likely not be enjoyable. I know someone who spent two years and around 15 thousand dollars on an MS, failed the qualifier for the 2nd time and can’t even graduate. Give yourself a break from this kind of madness you can only find in school. Three months is nothing. I know people who spent 8 months or more looking for their first out of college job, even those with engineering degrees. You have to decide what you want, not go to school because you don’t know.

Think about this, after another two years of school, you're going to be in the same position you are now, applying to jobs and hoping to get your first out of college career. Are you trying to postpone this dilemma? I'd rather have two years of work experience than two more years of test taking experience. At least your advisers didn't shove grad school down your throat. There is still hope for you to move on to the next stage of life. Where do you want to be in the next two years? A recent grad?
 
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I wouldn't say a master's degree is easy. I think it was one of the worst experiences of my life. Having a degree in applied math is not the worst thing ever. I think you should keep looking for a job before you commit yourself to more school. Sure, an MS in engineering will get you a job, but do you know what kind of work an electrical engineer does? How do you know you will like it or that it will be easy? I guarantee that it probably won't be easy, and if you end up hating it, it will be two years of hell for you.

Don't rush into the school thing. There are some business analyst or data analyst type positions that may hire you for your math skills and programming aptitude. It seems to be more rare these days, but I at least know one physics student who was hired as an engineer. There are other jobs that may hire you, like QC/QA technician or whatever. I would have joined the military if it wasn't for a brief period I had with mental health issues. Keep searching. School is not your only option.

I think I have a pretty good shot at a data analyst/business analyst role. I have had a few phone interviews for those kinds of positions, which is more progress than I've made when applying to R&D or associate scientist/engineer positions. If that doesn't work out, I had one offer to extract THC from weed. It's a pretty crumby job but at least somewhat related to my education, and there is promotion potential in extraction. If you can pass a background investigation, you can apply to the CIA or Department of Defense for just about anything you want. They seem to offer good training programs.

My suggestion is to give the school thing a break. You already committed four or five years of your life and tens of thousands of dollars to that crazy place. You came out with less than what you thought you would, and now they want you to go back. Give it some thought before you commit more of your time and money to that crazy place. Grad school will most likely not be enjoyable. I know someone who spent two years and around 15 thousand dollars on an MS, failed the qualifier for the 2nd time and can’t even graduate. Give yourself a break from this kind of madness you can only find in school. Three months is nothing. I know people who spent 8 months or more looking for their first out of college job, even those with engineering degrees. You have to decide what you want, not go to school because you don’t know.

Think about this, after another two years of school, you're going to be in the same position you are now, applying to jobs and hoping to get your first out of college career. Are you trying to postpone this dilemma? I'd rather have two years of work experience than two more years of test taking experience. At least your advisers didn't shove grad school down your throat. There is still hope for you to move on to the next stage of life. Where do you want to be in the next two years? A recent grad?
Thanks for responding, this was a very informative answer and really helped my open my eyes more regarding more school work. I will look into the options you suggested as well :)
 

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You can take out loans and go back to school at any time you want. There's no point in rushing into it. You may find funding for your masters, but the pay typically sucks, and you might have to take out loans or work two jobs anyway depending on your financial situation.
 
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I think you guys are giving him bad advice. He has a bachelors in physics. That won’t get him a job. If he wanted a job after undergrad he should have studied engineering in the first place.
 

symbolipoint

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I think you guys are giving him bad advice. He has a bachelors in physics. That won’t get him a job. If he wanted a job after undergrad he should have studied engineering in the first place.
The point is, he now has (just) the bachelor degree in Physics. What should have been done - not in that situation anymore. What to do NOW is important. Either get job soon, or return to school for something practical. Short on his computer programming skills? Do one or two courses. Short on other practical skills? Identify them, and find some course work or something, to build them.
 

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I know at least one person who has gotten a really good job as a systems engineer with just a bachelors in physics. I wasn’t so lucky, but it can happen. Why not at least try before jumping into more school?

I know someone with a film degree who is making 50k at Home Depot doing God knows what. I've no idea what he does, but he claimed to make 50k. If someone with a film degree can accomplish that, why can't someone with a physics degree accomplish more? Three months is not long enough to warrant giving up.
 
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Choppy

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If you haven't seen these already, you might want to check out:
Businesses who've recently hired multiple physics BSc holders
A state-by-state breakdown
Data on initial employment

The fact of the matter is that the vast majority of physics BSc holders do just fine in terms of employment, but it's not uncommon for newly graduated students to struggle a little in figuring out how to transition from the academic world into the commercial one. Physics is an academic field, as opposed to a professional one. As such, it's rare to find someone looking to hire a physics graduate specifically. What you need to do is figure out what skills you have that you can market, or as has been said, how to further develop those skills.
 

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If you haven't seen these already, you might want to check out:
Businesses who've recently hired multiple physics BSc holders
A state-by-state breakdown
Data on initial employment

The fact of the matter is that the vast majority of physics BSc holders do just fine in terms of employment, but it's not uncommon for newly graduated students to struggle a little in figuring out how to transition from the academic world into the commercial one. Physics is an academic field, as opposed to a professional one. As such, it's rare to find someone looking to hire a physics graduate specifically. What you need to do is figure out what skills you have that you can market, or as has been said, how to further develop those skills.
This is what I wish I had done instead of jumping into graduate school without really knowing what I was getting myself into. I just didn't have a job and didn't know what to do. School sucks the vast majority of the time. If you can avoid it and start your professional career sooner, I would recommend doing that. Of course, if you have to go back to school in order to get your dream job, I would encourage that, but it seems as though OP was considering grad school simply because he is having trouble starting his career. If you want a job, keep looking for a job. If you really want to go back to school, then go back to school, but going back to school because you want a job sounds counterproductive to me.

If after 8 months of job searching you are still unemployed or underemployed and wishing you had a different career, then maybe consider the grad school thing. There's no point in rushing into it. You'll always have the option to go back to school. My roommate worked as a restaurant server for like 8 months after graduating before he finally got his career started in CAD modeling. Imagine if he gave up and went to grad school during that time. He'd be still in school as we speak trying to get another degree instead of starting his career.

Take this time to apply to jobs and figure out exactly what you want to be doing and where you want to see yourself 5 years from now. If you find out that you already meet the education requirements to pursue what you want to do. Guess what? You don't have to go back to school. If you lack the experience you need, there are other options. For example, my roommate built a 3D printer and was CAD modeling and 3D printing as a hobby the entire time he was serving tables. There are also student training programs, post grad internships, co-ops and stuff like that. If you find out you absolutely want to be an electrical engineer and can't get into it otherwise, then maybe consider an MS in electrical engineering.
 
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The point is, he now has (just) the bachelor degree in Physics. What should have been done - not in that situation anymore. What to do NOW is important. Either get job soon, or return to school for something practical. Short on his computer programming skills? Do one or two courses. Short on other practical skills? Identify them, and find some course work or something, to build them.
I understand that’s the point. He’s found out that a BS in physics doesn’t get you a job. That’s why I told him to get his MSE. He’ll likely have a job before he graduates.
 

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He’s found out that a BS in physics doesn’t get you a job. That’s why I told him to get his MSE. He’ll likely have a job before he graduates.
Have you experienced this, or is this something someone you know has experienced?
 
One path would be to develop a computer science and programming background that can convince employers that you're a better hire than a CS student for a software development position. There are positions like this where a a physics degree is appreciated. Some people speak of self-study and building a portfolio but for me personally this was not very effective. Another option would be go to graduate school in applied mathematics or physics or engineering with a topic that is computational heavy where you can learn programming simultaneously. You'll have to learn a lot on your own but at least this is something hard that you can show employers and you would have gained a lot of useful experience in the process. Some graduate programs are even oriented towards career development with the expectation that their graduates go on to industry rather than continuing to a PhD and academia, offering internships and things like that.
 
This is what I wish I had done instead of jumping into graduate school without really knowing what I was getting myself into. I just didn't have a job and didn't know what to do. School sucks the vast majority of the time. If you can avoid it and start your professional career sooner, I would recommend doing that. Of course, if you have to go back to school in order to get your dream job, I would encourage that, but it seems as though OP was considering grad school simply because he is having trouble starting his career. If you want a job, keep looking for a job. If you really want to go back to school, then go back to school, but going back to school because you want a job sounds counterproductive to me.

If after 8 months of job searching you are still unemployed or underemployed and wishing you had a different career, then maybe consider the grad school thing. There's no point in rushing into it. You'll always have the option to go back to school. My roommate worked as a restaurant server for like 8 months after graduating before he finally got his career started in CAD modeling. Imagine if he gave up and went to grad school during that time. He'd be still in school as we speak trying to get another degree instead of starting his career.

Take this time to apply to jobs and figure out exactly what you want to be doing and where you want to see yourself 5 years from now. If you find out that you already meet the education requirements to pursue what you want to do. Guess what? You don't have to go back to school. If you lack the experience you need, there are other options. For example, my roommate built a 3D printer and was CAD modeling and 3D printing as a hobby the entire time he was serving tables. There are also student training programs, post grad internships, co-ops and stuff like that. If you find out you absolutely want to be an electrical engineer and can't get into it otherwise, then maybe consider an MS in electrical engineering.
thank you so much for this info and perspective, it really helps a lot to just take a step back and look at more options other than school!
 

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You have a lot of options even if you decide to go back to school, other than engineering. Computer science or applied statistics is an option. You can do a one year masters in data science. There are a lot of different graduate programs that you can get accepted into with a physics degree. So, if you do want to go back to school, know that engineering is not your only option in order to find a career. It all depends on what you want to do. I actually like programming, analyzing data and sitting in front of a computer for 8 hours a day, so I am pursuing the data thing. You should have at least some experience in applying statistics and analyzing data using MATLAB or Excel with your physics degree. Your mathematical skills shows what's called programming aptitude. It's really easy to learn programming when you're used to thinking spatially and organizing concepts mathematically. That's why even a masters program in computer science is possible for you.

If you look outside of a career in physics, you will find hundreds of opportunities where your degree is applicable. I have mentioned just a few here. Keep looking. Go to grad school when you are ready, if it is necessary.
 
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Unfortunately, school doesn't teach us the hustler mentality. It teaches us to do what were told, make mama proud, get a good grade and things will magically be given to you. We need to adopt the hustler mentality to truly become successful and the next generation of leaders.
 
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I don't know if I'd call it a "hustler" mentality, but school definitely doesn't teach students to think strategically.

A simple example I often see (and was definitely true about me!) is answering questions.

What do you do in school when someone asks you a question? You give them an answer. A complete answer. Including lots of supporting details and evidence.

What should you do in a job when someone asks you a question? Stop and ask - what does this person really want to know, and how much should I tell them?

Even just asking brand new employees simple questions like "What are you working on" highlights this. A new grad responds like a sea cucumber, vomiting up every detail of their work over the past week. Someone with experience and savvy, on the other hand, gives me a tight response that tells me the general status and what issues have arisen. The impact when communicating with other departments is even bigger - I don't let new grads near some other internal departments, because the political fallout of a few misspoken words can be really painful.
 

symbolipoint

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Something which should not be missed in this topic is what may happen in your planning or strategic thinking if you work, maybe and especially in your field for a couple of years. You may find skills and properties missing which you are sure would make you better or more effective in some way if you had them - so possible academic pathway in school.
 

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