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Just got Physics BS - job hunt ideas

  1. May 16, 2014 #1
    I just got my BS in Physics from Arizona State University (transferred from UC Irvine in CA after decided I didn't want to pursue biology major there and came back to AZ to live with family and work and pursue physics because I like it)

    I graduated yesterday and have a fire burning inside me to find a job in industry, finance, anything! I want to work and make money ASAP, I have no desire for a PHD in physics and am considering applying for the Masters in Nanoscience (1 year accelerated program at ASU) for the fall of next year.

    In the meantime, this summer, I am looking for a job. I love technology and keep hearing about physics majors working in the semiconductor industry and finance. Although helpful, I have not heard specifics of job descriptions. I was hoping anyone could provide insight or job hunt tips for me!
  2. jcsd
  3. May 16, 2014 #2
    I'm afraid it's only phd graduates that are getting work in fields like these. Did you not get any opportunity to get a coop or internship while you were still in school? If not, I think you're going to have a very difficult time to get any kind of technical job, this has been my experience since graduating. So broaden your horizons to literally everything and anything you can find, because a bachelors in physics is as far removed from specialized as one gets, and industry has more than enough engineers and computer science graduates with the specific skill set to choose from.

    If you are a US citizen, consider defense contractors like Northrop Grumman, Raytheon, Lockheed Martin, etc. and other facilities like national labs you might have nearby. Small optics companies maybe. I would also go look at what the major employers hiring physics graduates in your state are for some ideas:
  4. May 16, 2014 #3


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    In my experience, most physics majors working in semiconductors have Ph.D.s or Masters at least (almost always Ph.Ds). Otherwise you're really not going to be that useful.

    I think you'd have better luck in a software or IT role.
  5. May 16, 2014 #4
    Plan to get an MS, I recommend engineering or finance. Not many people hire someone with an undergrad physics degree to do physics.
  6. May 16, 2014 #5
    Phoenix is a job market I'm at least somewhat familiar with. Phoenix has a lot of technical jobs in aerospace, Boeing, Lockheed, that sort of thing. I haven't been in the job market in 10 years, but at that time, those kinds of companies hired physics graduates. Check with your department to see which companies they have a relationship with.

    Semiconductors is a good option in Phoenix too. Being a new grad, the kind of job you are looking for is "process engineer". Here is a sample search: http://www.indeed.com/jobs?q=process+engineer+physics&l=Phoenix,+AZ

    Phoenix also has medical devices. Medtronic and W. L. Gore are possibilities.

    If you have the option for a 1-year masters, that isn't a bad idea. In general, a masters degree in a technical field will make you more employable.
  7. May 17, 2014 #6
    So you are going to potentially start your masters in one year? Are you going to hide this fact from potential employers? Because I doubt that many would want to take you on if they knew you were going to leave in only a year.

    The job hunting process may take a while.

    I've been hitting the phoenix area semiconductor market (among others) like mad with applications for over two years now. I've tried applying with and without my masters degree but haven't had luck either way. I almost never see a position with requirements that a new physics grad will satisfy. That is, most request or require previous work experience in the area or on their specific equipment and techniques. Of course I apply to those anyway. If you look through that link that Ben Espen posted there are virtually none for a new physics grad without very specific work experience and/or skills. Hopefully you got some of that with your undergrad research.

    I would wish you good luck, but it looks like we are in direct competition for those jobs. :wink: Im sure that as a graduate from two years ago I am at a disadvantage to you though.
  8. May 17, 2014 #7
    If you guys are applying for a job that looks for specific skills, you are looking in the wrong place. This kind of job is the right place. http://jobs-boeing.com/us/united-states/systems-engineering/jobid5405600-systems-engineer-1?ss=paid

    All Boeing wants is someone with a technical degree. They will train you in whatever else you need to know, or you will figure it out as you go. However, Modus hit on the problem here: there are lots and lots of people trying to get this job posting. If you just spam Boeing's website with another application, you won't get anywhere. If you are a recent graduate, please, please, please use your university's connections to find an opportunity you will actually be considered for. I didn't attend ASU, but I would be very, very surprised if ASU didn't have a relationship with Boeing, and other companies, to place their students in jobs. Take advantage of the benefits your university supplies.
  9. May 18, 2014 #8
    Its not even PhD in Physics in general. You need to be experimental condensed matter PhD to be likely to get a semiconductor job.
  10. May 18, 2014 #9
    Companies like Boeing,Northrop, Lockheed love to put up ads for jobs which they are only looking to create if they get the perfect candidate. It is harder to get a job which is only possibly being created rather than one that is already made to fill a need.
  11. May 19, 2014 #10
    If you are planning to just stick with a BS then software is your best bet. Almost any software house looking for entry level people would seriously consider a Physics major. Gaming houses are good because they need physics types to make their games look realistic. Aerospace like Boeing or Raytheon are not hiring at the moment due to the government slowdown in defense.
  12. May 19, 2014 #11
    How many of you are targeting your job search to large companies? Just wondering. From the people I've spoken with who have gotten tech jobs, the recurring advice I seem to have received in going about the job market is to completely avoid large companies and to focus on startups or small companies that can appreciate someone with interdisciplinary knowledge/skills and also have an insignificant or nonexistent HR department.
  13. May 20, 2014 #12
    I've targeted both. Big companies are easier to find, but I have applied to small places as well. Sometimes they dont have career or job listing so I just send my stuff in, other times they do have a listing or two. I suspect the smaller places are less likely to be profitable and might be just as likely to trolling for the perfect candidate like the big guys do.

    I would certainly take Ben Espen's advice to use "university's connections" but I'm not sure what that is exactly. The career centers at my schools have looked at my resume and cover letter, directed me to the career fair and suggested ridiculous positions like manager at panda express, manning a call center or, at least somewhat relevant, help desk IT. Maybe I didn't ask the right questions to get a connection to boeing or similar positions?
  14. May 20, 2014 #13
    Modus, I'm sorry if I was unclear. I wouldn't actually recommend your university's career center, in my experience I haven't found them to be very helpful. Their job is to correct glaring mistakes in your resume and show you how to click the apply button on a website. Really basic stuff.

    What I mean is talk to a professor or professors you know well, and see what kind of industry connections they have. They all do. Also, the engineering college and or department should have it's own career program separate from the rest of the university. Here is ASU's for example http://more.engineering.asu.edu/career/

    Now, this presents a potential problem if you didn't graduate from the engineering program, as the OP did not. I think they are worth a shot anyway, since they will better connections with technical jobs and not Panda Express.
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