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Issues finding jobs

  1. Jan 9, 2016 #1
    I graduated in 2014 with a B.A. where I studied both Physics and Spanish, and I was a few classes away from a Mathematics minor. In college I also played baseball and worked as a RA for all four years, which led to me not doing internships but I worked odds and ends jobs such as tutoring, golf course maintenance, and more. After graduating I taught for a year abroad in Honduras, teaching Physics, Chemistry, and Math to high school students. Upon return to the U.S. I got a job working again at a golf course and then moved down to be in the Austin, TX area near my now fiancé. As of right now I am working as an Irrigation Technician for a landscaping company. I have been searching for a job that can begin my career in Physics or a related field. After 5 months of searching I feel like I am nowhere closer to a job. I am not making a lot of money doing what I am doing, the hours are long, the work is very physical which is enjoyable at times because I like to see my work getting done, and I get to be outside. However, with student debt and getting married, I am getting frustrated with this issue. Does anybody have career advice for me on how to get started? I have had some teaching opportunities abroad but with debt from a U.S. college it is hard to take a job like that. I would prefer something in this area, I have a quality resume. Any ideas?
  2. jcsd
  3. Jan 9, 2016 #2
    What can you do?

    What do you want to do?
  4. Jan 9, 2016 #3
    I want to get into either Data Science or Engineering (Electric or Civil with an emphasis in Water).
  5. Jan 10, 2016 #4


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    You still haven't answered what you can do though. Can you programming? If so, which languages? How many jobs have you applied too? Have you gotten your resumed reviewed by an outside unbias source? If you want to get into Data Science, do you know how sql works? Do you know how Hadoop or YARN works? Have you practice explaining technical issues to non-technical people? Have you looked into consulting companies?
  6. Jan 10, 2016 #5
    What MarneMath said.

    Also, those are pretty different. It may be challenging preparing for such disparate careers. How do you plan to do so?
  7. Jan 10, 2016 #6
    My only experience with writing code is HTML, though learning a programming language seems pretty easy. It is proficiency within the programming that I am not up to par with. I have applied to over 100 jobs, none of them are biting. Every time it is the lack of experience conundrum for getting hired. My resume has been viewed by outside sources multiple times. I've even started custom writing resumes to job openings and companies to help my chances. I understand what SQL is but I do not have much experience with it and do not claim it on my resume. I do not know Hadoop or YARN. I have a lot of experience describing and communicating technical language to non-technical individuals, especially with my teaching background. The challenge right now is simply getting any experience to jump start my career. Yes, the careers are very different, but getting any sort of experience in a technical field at this point is what I need.
  8. Jan 11, 2016 #7


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    I can't speak for engineering but i'm typically the hiring manager for entry data scientist. Based on what you are telling me right now, there does not exist a reason why I would hire you to be a data scientist for me.

    1. SQL + some high level language: I need to know that you can a)Perform complex joins b)Integrate the workflow into an automatic process such that the pulling of data and the implementation model are seamless. Good news is that this is relatively easy to learn. I recommend you learn python and utilize sqlaclehmey and pandas to incorporate queries, data cleaning and data modeling into one program. Having this knowledge makes you much more interesting to me.
    2. Statistical Knowledge: If I ask you make a model that predicts if product A is defective can you do this? If I ask you to predict the number of calls into our call centers can you do this? Do you know when to use a classifier or a regression? Can you do a time series analysis? If you don't have this skill set at all, then why would I bother interviewing you?
    3. P-value: Tell me what it is in a non-technical way and tell me the limits. Tell me how a support vector machine works without using linear algebra.
    4. Agile: This is non-technical but being familiar with the terms "sprint", "user story" and "iterations" within an agile framework is always a good thing.
    5. Data validation: Let's say you have built a program that pulls data from a database and makes a model. You have automated this. What kind of checks will you build into your program that will let you know if the data from the database is not flawed in some way.
    What I have listed above are the baseline I have for new hires. Notice that none of this references actually work experience, it's simply knowledge that needs to be expressed on a resume and during an interview. If you don't have any of this on your resume, then I have no incentive to interview you. If you can't articulate your thought process on this during an interview, I have no incentive to hire you.

    Now with that said. A lot of this can gained relatively easily, but it takes time on your part to acquire this skills. Udacity, Cousera and Kaggle competitions can help you become a more interesting candidate in my mind.

    My advice is leverage your ability to translate technical issues into simple terms. I've interviewed highly trained PhD's who failed explaining to my non-technical peer their model in a simple terms. In fact, my last interview I gave was this case exactly. One candidate was a PhD from a top 20 university who has done research in neuroscience, the other was an undergraduate in statistics from a top 20 school too. The PhD had a lot of appealing skills, but he couldn't convey his work at a high level, he got too caught up in the jargon. While the undergraduate lacked a lot of the more advance knowledge across the board, and computer science skills (he knew enough though), he did really well explaining everything he knew. He would draw pictures, use jargon, but then break it down in easy to digest terms. That is a rare skill and why I hired him instead.
    Last edited: Jan 11, 2016
  9. Jan 11, 2016 #8
    I'm sorry that this comes too late for you to do anything about it, but you really don't have a quality resume. At least for the careers you said you were interested in. When I interview recent college graduates, it is really easy to find candidates with more experience and more relevant experience in the field in question. I am not in the fields you mention, but I know enough about college recruiting to know this is true. Fundamentally, this is why you are having trouble finding a job. I am not saying this in an attempt to be mean, but rather to highlight for others what they should do when it is not yet too late.

    For you, the question is: now what? MarneMath gave you some excellent suggestions for increasing your marketplace value. These things are good because you can do them without needing to convince someone you are worth a gamble. Trying to get hired with your current resume is just that: asking someone to gamble on your value. Have you considered moving to Houston and working in the oil industry? Given the choice, I would vastly prefer Austin to Houston, but you do what you have to do when you need a job.
  10. Jan 11, 2016 #9
    With learning the languages, do I have to prove taught experience or can I simply learn the language on my own? For example, my understanding of SQL is very rudimentary, but I can easily spend some of my free time learning the language so that I can have more success later on. However, will the hiring party want to see my work with the different languages? How do I make the 'self-taught' sound positive, except for that I am a go getter? I can do statistical inquiries and calculation regarding a data set. I've taken stats and statistical physics, so that is not hard to use. How do I go about showing these though when yes, I have a resume, but I don't want my resume plus past experience to leak over into 2 or three pages?

    I know that often times I don't have the required experience, but frankly that is what I am asking for, chances to get the required experience. So now you see the conundrum, and at some point some company has to take a low level, college graduate and teach them the skills, right? So what I've done is attached some of my resume, not all, because I don't want the entirety of it out there with personal information and such. However, take a look and give me an idea. If I am not available for that career path right now, where can I look to start going that direction?

    Attached Files:

  11. Jan 11, 2016 #10


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    I see the problem. You're resume wouldn't get pass the automatic filter at all. You say you know how to do statistics on dataset, why isn't that there? What do you actually know in statistics? Can you simply find the mean and standard deviation? ANOVA? There's nothing in your resume that'll tell anyone in HR that you might be worth being a resume that actually gets to my desk. No mention of SQL, R, Python or anything that is essentially industry standard? Nothing there tells me that you can translate jargon into layspeak. Overall, this isn't an issue of no one giving you a chance at all, it's more along the issue that no one even knows you exist. Seriously improve your resume and actually list skills that are meaningful that aim towards your job.

    The thing is, unless you're being hired as a software dev, I really don't expect you to have a formal class on many or any languages. List what you know. I never had a class on python, scala, javascript, perl, java, c, c++, cuda, sas, R, and i'm sure a few more languages I know, but if someone ask me "How do you write an inline for loop in python?" I can do it. That's typically why we have phone screenings. Or in my case, I give people "assignments" prior to the interview to demonstrate knowledge in a language. The thing is most of your resume is irrelevant to me. Much of it is wasted opportunity. You speak about setting up labs for a physics class. What did that entail? Isn't this a chance for you to clearly articulate that you broke down the technical lab instructions into an easy to follow format that set the students up for success? Setting up a lab tells me nothing.

    Lastly, if you want to demonstrate programming skills that you picked up. Establish a github account, start creating repos and demoing your personal projects. On my github you'll find all my kaggle models (minus that one's that are still in competition), euler project solutions, code challenges, a chess engine, and a search engine for a hadoop file system. This will show people what you can do, and also knowing how to actually use git and version control early in your career is bound to impress someone.
  12. Jan 12, 2016 #11
    Since you don't have any experience, it generally does not look good to have a resume of more than 1 page. I have only seen one multipage new grad resume in more than 10 years that deserved to be multipage. Your intuition here is correct.

    I do understand the problem. I will do my best to guide you with the caveat that I don't really know you, and you could get better help from someone who does know you. Who you know really is more important that what you know sometimes.

    The sentence in your reply that I have highlighted is really important. No, they don't. And in fact, those companies will not, unless they see some financial upside in it. For most entry-level positions in the fields in question, there is a surplus of qualified candidates, ones who can get started with much less investment in training. If you lack the specific degree in question, and lack any relevant experience, you need to find a way past the automated resume rejection machines [that is the who you know part], and then sufficiently impress someone with your smarts/talent/moxie/whatever that they want to pay you money to learn stuff.

    I hear you say: "I don't know how to do that." Well, it is really hard. You are making up for a multi-year advantage others have acquired over you. Nothing I can suggest is a guaranteed solution. If it were easy,everyone else would have already done it and thus it would be of no value.

    • Ask everyone you know about jobs. And I really mean everyone. Your professors. Your friends. People you don't like. Your alma mater's career services department. Friends of friends. Your parents' friends. This is usually uncomfortable. This can payoff, because you probably know lots of people casually and it only has to work once. These people can also probably give you better advice than me.
    • Keep at it for a long time. I know from personal experience how long this can take. I spent a year looking for a job after graduating. My wife spent 18 months. I kept at it, and eventually a personal contact helped me get the interview, where I was able to impress someone that I was worth it.
    • You can try small companies, and I mean really small [~10 people]. Why this small? Companies this small may be too small to have a software package that parses resumes for keywords and deletes you. A real person has to read them all. Plus, it may be easier to make a personal contact with a small company that is disproportionately helpful. A smaller company may also make it easier for you to move into a new role once you have proven your worth.
  13. Jan 15, 2016 #12
    I think this is a pretty helpful response for me. Some of the things I have been doing. Part of my issue is my network. I'm from Colorado, went to school in Iowa, and ended up down in Austin to be near my girlfriend (now fiancé), so my network is lacking, and I know that. However, I do not know many engineers in Texas, and most are not in the Austin area. I've been asking around that way and trying to expand, and I guess that is the slow part for me.

    I've contacted my college career services, some other people that I know elsewhere, and I am putting out a lot of applications in hopes that eventually I will get to that one person. I've started with small companies too, using a website that shows me employers of certain college degrees in my area. From there I am finding their websites, contacting them with my resume in open positions. The going is slow, I will admit, but I am hopeful that if I continue along that route and find ways to make myself more applicable (learning a few programming languages) then I will get a better shot.

    Right now, working in irrigation, it is simply a job I do not enjoy (although I do enjoy working with my hands). However, they are paying for my license and I am wondering if that could eventually take me a civil engineering - water conservation route. I have been at it for some time, but as I continue to refine my resume I will keep applying and developing my skills.
  14. Jan 19, 2016 #13
    CSOleson, we're in very similar boats: I taught Jr High Science and HS Physics at Minerva (Gracias,Lempira,Honduras) in 2012-2013. Like you, I taught the year after I graduated with my BS (Physics). Also like you, I don't have the REUs and Lab experiences that are the necessary requirements for internships that traditionally advance in the field. Igual que, I am aiming myself toward a career in physics.

    Since returning to the states, I've moved back to small town america because the rent was cheaper. The jobs I've managed to land have all been far from physics and far from teaching. Among people I know, nobody who has hired me has ever seen my resume(n=3), and no place I've applied to with a resume has ever gotten back to me. (n=~20). Networking has also been a challenge with me, no matter how many times someone uses the phrase "informational interview" deliberate networking is hard.

    It's hard and I don't know what to do. I'm not confident that my input is even non destructive. However, my latest job happened through volunteering. I volunteered at a local science center (~3 employees [all 40+], ~3 volunteers [mostly retired]) in 2014. When the 2015 season stared, I was offered a part time job as the facilities manager. I think this was because I arrived on time. Essentially, I was then paid to unlock the door, answer questions, and do whatever I though needed to be done to keep the place clean. When the land trust who operated the science center stared a capital campaign, I was offered work as the database manager. I think this was because I was the only person on staff who felt confident with Excel.

    So... volunteer? Maybe that's a good magic word to read.
  15. Jan 19, 2016 #14
    dlincoln, that is a pretty good story. A bit of networking advice I've never shared here is: join a fraternal/sororal order. I'm a member of one, and it is a fantastic way to network, especially in rural America. It costs some money to keep my membership, and I'm active in the organization, so it takes time too, but most of the active members are retired guys who know a lot of people and know how to get stuff done. Pretty much exactly who you need to network with. I don't know that I could have found a STEM job this way, but I probably could have found something.
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