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Physics Looking for any career/further education advice and ideas please

  • Thread starter gemmsha13
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Got my bachelor's in physics last year from a small LAC with decent research opportunities, and since then have ended up working as a software developer on wall street. Money is great but I hate NYC and find my work incredibly boring. I really miss the summers I spent working hands-on in physics labs (mostly experimental AMO) and am considering a part-time professional master's program as a pathway back into doing more interesting work, maybe with photonics. Also exploring PhD programs (too late to apply this year), masters programs (usually not funded), and post-bac/research assistant positions (few and far between). I'm about to quit my job and move back in with my parents for the summer no matter what, and I feel like I'm floundering right now. Anything else I could look into?
 

CrysPhys

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I'm about to quit my job and move back in with my parents for the summer no matter what, ....
That would be a big mistake. Continue working until you decide what you want to transition to: you need to progress in maturing, not regress.
 
I know it seems reckless but I am completely miserable right now, very committed to finding something else, and have been sending out a lot of applications. I think my best plan right now is the part time master's program so I can keep working during the day, and if that works out I would only be living at home for about a month. I feel like if I don't take some big risks now it will just get harder to change my career path.
 

symbolipoint

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I know it seems reckless but I am completely miserable right now, very committed to finding something else, and have been sending out a lot of applications. I think my best plan right now is the part time master's program so I can keep working during the day, and if that works out I would only be living at home for about a month. I feel like if I don't take some big risks now it will just get harder to change my career path.
You mean, work fulltime while attending Masters' program parttime? This would seem risky and difficult. Work LONGER while you continue to look for other work, hopefully more technical or scientific, and leave then for that if you find it. Other advice is still necessary for you.
 

Zap

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Got my bachelor's in physics last year from a small LAC with decent research opportunities, and since then have ended up working as a software developer on wall street. Money is great but I hate NYC and find my work incredibly boring. I really miss the summers I spent working hands-on in physics labs (mostly experimental AMO) and am considering a part-time professional master's program as a pathway back into doing more interesting work, maybe with photonics. Also exploring PhD programs (too late to apply this year), masters programs (usually not funded), and post-bac/research assistant positions (few and far between). I'm about to quit my job and move back in with my parents for the summer no matter what, and I feel like I'm floundering right now. Anything else I could look into?
May I please have your job?
What don't you like about it?
 
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CrysPhys

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I know it seems reckless but I am completely miserable right now, very committed to finding something else, and have been sending out a lot of applications. I think my best plan right now is the part time master's program so I can keep working during the day, and if that works out I would only be living at home for about a month. I feel like if I don't take some big risks now it will just get harder to change my career path.
Could you clarify what this part-time master's program is? It's now mid-April; you haven't started it yet; and you plan to move back home for about a month this summer. Is that correct so far? If so, that means you'll complete your part-time master's in about 3 months. Is this a legit professional master's program that will lead to more satisfying career opportunities, or merely some quickie online certificate program that has no real validity with employers?

Assume, merely for the sake of argument, your best path is a PhD in physics (I don't recommend a terminal master's in physics in most instances). Have you taken the requisite GRE's? Would you be able to gather letters of recommendation? One option would be to continue working, while you get your grad school applications ready for next fall.
 
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Zap

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In my eyes, you've landed a pretty awesome job for just having a BS in physics. I think it would be a shame to quit so early into your career. You might benefit from some professional experience, even if you hate it. Your data analyst/programming experience at a bank I can't see but being beneficial. Why not take this time to save money and truly invest in yourself, moneywise. I'm sure you have extra time when you're not working to figure things out. Your experience could be applicable to other areas that might be more interesting. You also have a physics degree, and therefore could still potentially get a job in research, if that's what you really want to do. I mean, why the heck bother going back to school? That's just my opinion. Your in a place where there are bountiful opportunities. Why do you want to move? You could even go to the university there and volunteer in a lab or something on the weekends to see what you like. In my experience, universities are a really easy place to be accepted as a volunteer to gain experience or just to learn. You can lie and say you're a student, if it matters. If I tried to volunteer at Wells Fargo, for comparison, I think they wouldn't be inviting. So, from there you may be able to network your way into something more physics related.
 
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symbolipoint

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In my eyes, you've landed a pretty awesome job for just having a BS in physics. I think it would be a shame to quit so early into your career. You might benefit from some professional experience, even if you hate it. Your data analyst/programming experience at a bank I can't see but being beneficial. Why not take this time to save money and truly invest in yourself, moneywise. I'm sure you have extra time when you're not working to figure things out. Your experience could be applicable to other areas that might be more interesting. You also have a physics degree, and therefore could still potentially get a job in research, if that's what you really want to do. I mean, why the heck bother going back to school? That's just my opinion. Your in a place where there are bountiful opportunities. Why do you want to move? You could even go to the university there and volunteer in a lab or something on the weekends to see what you like. In my experience, universities are a really easy place to be accepted as a volunteer to gain experience or just to learn. You can lie and say you're a student, if it matters. If I tried to volunteer at Wells Fargo, for comparison, I think they wouldn't be inviting. So, from there you may be able to network your way into something more physics related.
Be careful with that!! Much of the first half is good sensible advice, but then a couple of remarks are less secure. First, important is that gemmsha13 you have a job, we might assume a well-paying job, and you need to secure a good income for some time.

Next, if you are working full time, then volunteering at some school might not be possible. Outside of work-time, you have other life chores which must be done. Voluntter in a lab? No, I guess you do not have the time; but you know what your actual situation is better than we readers. Do NOT LIE saying that you are a student if you are not a student!
 

CrysPhys

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You could even go to the university there and volunteer in a lab or something on the weekends to see what you like. In my experience, universities are a really easy place to be accepted as a volunteer to gain experience or just to learn. You can lie and say you're a student, if it matters.
Volunteering to work in a university lab on weekends won't be so easy. There are issues of building and lab access, on-site supervision, and liability. Yes, professors, postdocs, and grad students do work weekends, but their schedules tend to be irregular. If you have a personal relationship (e.g., friends or family) with a professor who is willing to help as a personal favor, then maybe.

Lying about being a student is unethical, stupid (how easy is it to get caught?), and likely to launch anyone heeding this inane advice into a state of exponential decay. Are you familiar with the "first do no harm" precept? You shouldn't guide anyone along a trajectory that will lead to a train wreck.
 
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Zap

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But working full time means you come home at 5 or 6 and you have the rest of the day to do whatever you want. Why not use that time to really do whatever you want, like search for a new career, volunteer, etc. I don't think the situation of volunteering in a lab is as complicated as one of yous's makes it sound. You simply do some research on the web, email some people and schedule a meeting, walk over there and then ask if you can shadow the lab because you are interested in the research. I know one dude who isn't a student and volunteered in the lab I'm in, was a crappy worker and mostly incompetent, but still stuck around and helped out. If availability is a problem, obviously you would discuss that with the person you want to work with, either through email or in person.

I was almost going to start working in an electrical engineering lab, a computer science lab, a computational science lab and a chemistry lab, but I ended up having too much homework and didn't follow through on any of that, but they all welcomed me. Maybe this is because I go to an unknown state college. I emailed some dude at the University of Madison Wisconsin, and he acted like his lab was super selective and received hundreds of emails from people wanting to work with him. So, maybe it's not possible to do outside of my small desert town, but I don't see any harm in trying.

If OP is miserable, maybe she needs to take a chance. All times I was miserable in life, I took a chance and made a drastic change, and I was temporarily relieved, but eventually became miserable again. I am miserable right now, and so I am gong to make another drastic change. I am moving to LA in May, right after I graduate. I don't have a job lined up, and I don't have any money, but I have someone who offered to provide a little bit of money for me to get by. I am really grateful for that.
 
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CrysPhys

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If OP is miserable, maybe she needs to take a chance. All times I was miserable in life, I took a chance and made a drastic change, and I was temporarily relieved, but eventually became miserable again. I am miserable right now, and so I am gong to make another drastic change. I am moving to LA in May, right after I graduate. I don't have a job lined up, and I don't have any money, but I have someone who offered to provide a little bit of money for me to get by. I am really grateful for that.
This is exactly the path I want the OP to avoid: oscillating from one state of misery to another, instead of converging to at least a satisfactory state. Deliberate analysis of the root causes of misery, and a well-thought out plan to resolve those root causes are needed. Granted, there are singular, egregious, or traumatic events that justify seeking refuge to heal. But "My job sucks!" doesn't fall into that category.
 

symbolipoint

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This makes sense, although not too accurate - only that it is a logical way to start.
This is exactly the path I want the OP to avoid: oscillating from one state of misery to another, instead of converging to at least a satisfactory state. Deliberate analysis of the root causes of misery, and a well-thought out plan to resolve those root causes are needed. Granted, there are singular, egregious, or traumatic events that justify seeking refuge to heal. But "My job sucks!" doesn't fall into that category.
EDIT: I know I should say, "although not too accurate " in a different way but don't know how right now.
 

Zap

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Who knows what OP should do. It might be hard to get into research once you're established in the financial industry. I agree that she should give it a little more time and advise a plan, but in my case, I am gong balls to the wall because I don't have a job and I've got nothing to lose. I liked studying science ( up to a point ), but I was never in love with science. I'm open to anything and everything.
 
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symbolipoint

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bachelor's in physics last year from a small LAC with decent research opportunities, and since then have ended up working as a software developer on wall street. Money is great but I hate NYC and find my work incredibly boring.
May I please have your job?
What don't you like about it?
gemmsha13, you have very strong reasons for staying in your job for a while - maybe at least two years. Earning a good income NOW is better than soon moving back in with your parents. Hating NYC might be more important than I am able to understand, but maybe your feeling is justifiable. "Incredibly boring", somewhat hard to understand. What does it mean? In case you work full-time, have you an option to cut this to part-time?
 

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