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Programs I will soon graduate as a physicist, I am lost

  1. Dec 15, 2016 #1
    I am in my last year (4 year total) of my physics studies, I will be graduating as the top 1 or maybe top 2 of my class.

    I don't have a clue what to do next.

    These last years I have been getting more "cynical" to say something, don't really know how to express this. I have been losing my love for physics and maths over time but I haven't lost it yet. When I started I loved the idea of studying something for the shake of studying, but know I know how life really works and the academic world isn't as beautiful as I painted it in my mind as a younger self.

    I fear that the decesions I make in the next months will be very important to my life path so I want to try my best. My dream job would be to be in some kind of place with collegues and to work on a very interesting topic, both theoretically and experimentally, I love the lab. I have thought of persuing a career in materials science or something related since what I like most of physics is quantum physics and the idea that quantum or small scale phenomenon can have a very important impact on the macroscopic scale is very thrilling, say semiconductors or superconductors to name some.

    I don't really like the idea of staying here, in Spain, which I could given my position as a top studying of my promotion I could easily finish a MSc in my city or maybe elsewhere and get a PhD schollarship and then go on, but I feel I have to go outside and not limit my options, both professionally and personally as I want to go to other places and meet new people. I am not motivated enough to do stay here either.

    What should I do? Should I find a good MSc program abroad and cross my fingers? My idea was to do a PhD in something both physics and tech related, is this a dream? I have been looking for job offers online too and it's very depressing, nothing really physics related, only data science and engineering type jobs... Everyone in my class is pretty much in the same situation, I would sincerelly appreciate any advice or personal experience, thank you very much.
  2. jcsd
  3. Dec 15, 2016 #2


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    I also have a 4yr Physics degree. It is VERY difficult to find a job which used this degree. It is really just a ticket to grad school. I have found near continuous employment over the last 40yrs as a tech but the main qualification for these jobs has been my Navy electronics training. The Physics degree satisfied the requirement for at least an AA deg that many large corps have.
    Now what you need to be, is good at selling yourself, there are many "engineer" jobs you will be qualified for, but that is not an easy or guaranteed path as there are many engineers looking for jobs as well.
    Good luck
  4. Dec 17, 2016 #3
    Most jobs where you are making real intellectual contributions to scientific problems will require an advanced degree. Without that, you will more often be acting in a more technical capacity maintaining instruments, performing repetitive preparation tasks, etc.

    But the best advice usually comes from faculty who are more familiar with your capabilities, local job prospects, and graduate school paths likely to be open for students with your accomplishments.
  5. Dec 18, 2016 #4
    I think material science is a very appealing direction for physics students who have a strong interest in the applications of quantum physics into the semiconductor / nano world. It also is a fine career choice for future technical / research work given the large amount of different R&D being doing in material science (biotech, energy research, etc). I know many people who do this type of work and it very much involves applying knowledge of quantum and solid state physics!

    I also get the impression that in top Material science programs physics students do better than others since the hardest courses are often the more physics-type classes such as solid state physics which many of the engineering-background students have a harder time with.

    So why not apply then for materials science PhD programs abroad, such as in the US? What do you have to lose?

  6. Dec 19, 2016 #5
    Thanks for your answer!

    I have given some thought to studying in the US but I don't see a compelling reason to go. Everything is so much more expensive there, its it worth it? how much could a MSc cost in the US? 30k€? On the other hand in europe they are much cheaper even free in some countries where I have though of going. I belive there are good universities in every country, maybe the US wins here, but is it worth it?
  7. Dec 19, 2016 #6
    Apply for a PhD program! Then your funding is covered in most top schools by research and teaching assistant work.
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