Industry job prospects for a condensed matter computational physicist

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I'm working on a PhD in condensed matter computational physics, particularly with method development. My plan is to go into industry afterwards, and out of curiosity I've been looking at job listings. It doesn't look good to be honest. Listings for physicists mainly require some type of lab experience, and I'll very rarely see one where my degree would fit all the requirements.

I'm hoping for a decent research or engineering job that would use my physics and math skills to some extent, it doesn't need to be condensed matter or computational. Is it realistic to expect this? Are there things I could do at this point to increase my chances? For instance:

Are there some skills I should acquire while I'm in the PhD program?
Would it be a good idea to do an internship afterwards?
Should I try to publish a lot of papers before I graduate?
Would it be a good idea to stay in the PhD program while looking for a job, with the intention to quickly graduate when an offer comes?

Thanks in advance for any answers.
 

Answers and Replies

  • #2
Dr Transport
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Industry doesn't care if you have publications, I never published in grad school and have been working in aerospace for nearly 20 years.
 
  • #3
hutchphd
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The best way to get jobs is
  1. Be good at what you do
  2. Get to know people. Consider it equally important
Most of the best jobs come from knowing someone (or someone who knows someone). Don't be too worried about whether you are studying exactly the correct stuff. More important to learn something you like and learn it well. It is easy enough to expand you expertise.
 
  • #4
phyzguy
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With your background it sounds like you will be looking for something that will use your programming skills. How strong are they? What languages do you know.? Do you have a github presence? I've seen that having a strong github presence where employers can see exactly what contributions you've made and what skills you have is important.
 
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With your background it sounds like you will be looking for something that will use your programming skills. How strong are they? What languages do you know.? Do you have a github presence? I've seen that having a strong github presence where employers can see exactly what contributions you've made and what skills you have is important.

I think my programming skills pretty good since that's mainly what I do for research. The thing is I mainly program in fortran, with some python. I have programmed in c++, would it be a good idea to get more experience with it?
I was planning on setting up a github account to make available a modification to an open source package I've been working on, though I doubt many if anyone will use it. I suppose I should also make my dissertation project available when it's finished.
 
  • #6
phyzguy
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I think my programming skills pretty good since that's mainly what I do for research. The thing is I mainly program in fortran, with some python. I have programmed in c++, would it be a good idea to get more experience with it?
I was planning on setting up a github account to make available a modification to an open source package I've been working on, though I doubt many if anyone will use it. I suppose I should also make my dissertation project available when it's finished.
I may be wrong, but my feeling is few industry jobs will be impressed with your expertise in Fortran. Yes, I would advise you to get more experience with Python and C++. Having a github presence where you have uploaded code you wrote to github is viewed positively, even if nobody uses it.
 
  • #7
Dr Transport
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I may be wrong, but my feeling is few industry jobs will be impressed with your expertise in Fortran.


You'd be suprised how much legacy code is in FORTRAN in industry and the national labs that is still maintained.
 
  • #8
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And Fortran is pretty excellent at doing what it does well; a number of Python libraries rely on it, at least partially.

But I agree that it's very niche, and not a great place to look for a career. Which language you pick at least partially depends on what you want to do:

Python has a couple of good web frameworks, and is excellent for testing, validation and other scripting. But it's real growth over the past few years has been machine learning, which it does very well.

C++ has extensive usage in application development, especially gaming and other computationally heavy circumstances.

C still has a strong showing whenever you need to get down to bare metal, e.g. drivers and numeric computing. Similar to Fortran in usage, but more common and well respected.

Javascript is still king of the web.

Java lives somewhere between C and Python; more readable, still very fast, but not as flexible or quick to develop in as Python, and nowhere near the library support. We still lean on it when Python isn't a good choice, but I don't really see a long term place for it (others will vehemently disagree with that).

And of course R, for people who want to use computers to do statistical analysis, but desperately want to avoid learning to program. This is not for you.

Lots of others - Julia, Scala, etc. - but the ones I listed above are the ones I would think scientifically minded folks would bump into the most.
 

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