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Math MS in math, MS in physics, feel COMPLETELY unemployable

  1. Dec 5, 2011 #1
    I mean...I have no idea how to even start looking for a job, or where. I did extremely well in both my programs (GPA 3.93), but I don't know who is really going to *CARE*.

    One big thing is that I completely and utterly lack computer programming skills. Well, that's not *entirely* true...I can LaTeX like no one's business, but I know next to nothing about C++, Java, etc., even though I took a class in C and did very well in it.

    What am I supposed to do? I'm a pretty pessimistic person by nature with a low opinion of my intelligence/ability to contribute anything, which is bad when you're trying to look for someone to pay you to...you know, contribute stuff. But I need to make some kind of a LIVING. I just don't know how.

    Any guidance/advice/encouragement whatsoever is welcome. I'll be happy to try to answer any questions you have or provide more information.
  2. jcsd
  3. Dec 5, 2011 #2
    have you considered high school teaching?

    you have a MS in math and physics, which to be honest, 90% of people are terrible at. you can make serious money being a SAT tutor or even a straight teacher.
  4. Dec 5, 2011 #3
    tutor me in both...thanks
  5. Dec 6, 2011 #4


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    Science Advisor

    Hey AxiomOfChoice.

    In your coursework have you done assignments or projects where you get a problem and follow the process from getting the problem, to getting the data, to analyzing the data in context to the problem to finally writing a report or recommendation of what to do in the context of the original problem?

    That kind of thing is pretty important and if you can get an interview, you can mention that kind of thing when they ask you the relevant questions.

    Think about stuff like that and put in a context that will tell the interviewer that you have something to bring to the table. Skills don't always map one to one to job criteria, and if you are aware of this, see how you can create some kind of mapping that you can announce and justify to your potential employer.
  6. Dec 6, 2011 #5
    What follows assumes you are in America.

    I think you are much better off than you think. Searching for a job with degrees in math and physics can be a bit over-whelming at first. The more you search and read job descriptions, the more you learn how to tailor your resumes and cover letters to specific positions. Don't concentrate on the skills you don't have (computer programming), but rather the skills you do have.

    If you don't have any personal connections in the private, educational, or government sectors the first thing to do is create a list of the companies, schools, and agencies looking for your skills in the locations you want to work.

    If you do not know where to find this information, you can use a job search website such as indeed.com, simplyhired.com, careerbuilder.com, etc. I would recommend that you do not get excited when you see positions on websites like these. I would only use them to create a list of potential employers. Always go directly to the employers website when possible. The job search websites mentioned above often contain false postings by staffing agencies and inaccurate posting dates for positions. Basically, I wouldn't apply through any website other than the employers actual website.

    Once you get a list of employers in your area, the next step is to get information on open positions. Open positions change often so you may want to check each employer website every day or as often as you can.

    Once you have found positions that you feel qualified for, do background research on their hiring process. glassdoor.com is an excellent resource for this. Glassdoor contains detailed information of companies including salary ranges, interview questions, and how to get your resume selected.

    If you want to work in the private sector and are worried that you have the education but not the experience, you could focus on larger national companies. Examples include Intel, Boeing, Orbital Sciences, IBM, HP, Honeywell, and Northrop Grumman.

    If you do go this route, remember to look at any job with the word engineer in it. A large majority of engineering jobs I have seen require a degree in engineering, math, chemistry, physics, or other related area.

    It may seem hopeless now, but you just have to put in the time and effort into researching your potential employers. Find out which ones use HR for initial resume screens, match the language in the job description, research STAR and behavioral interview techniques. Be prepared for technical questions.

    The information is out there, it is just a lot to sort through. Oh and also be prepared to send out hundreds of different resumes, do not get caught up on one job. Once you have applied, that is it. It's time to move on to the next one. Just keep a record of which resume/cover letter was sent so you don't get caught unprepared.

    Good luck! I hope this helps.
    Last edited: Dec 6, 2011
  7. Dec 6, 2011 #6

    I like Serena

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    Homework Helper

    I share your pain.
    I've studied math (MS) and physics as well.
    But I've also studied computer science (MS), which is more practical.

    In my job the only use I have of math or physics, is the logical and systematic thinking.
    Beyond that, no one cares about what I can do or what I have learned.
    That's one of my main reasons to be here on PF, where people do appreciate my help in things math and physics.

    As for what I've learned being employed.
    I found that I needed to learn new skill sets to function properly.
    The skill to set up a resume that employers are interested in.
    Soft skills to be able to work in teams.
    Experience to work in projects with project leaders, architects, and to effectively communicate with clients.

    In other words, you're not done learning and you'll need to get experience.
  8. Dec 6, 2011 #7
    I've seen people claiming programming skills in a programming language based on less than having taken a class. If you think that lack of programming skills is your main problem, then just sit down for a week, learn elementary programming, and then claim to have basic skills in <whatever language(s) you played around with>. A mathematician or physicists usually has a sufficient understanding of the concept of "algorithm" and the decomposition of problems into smaller sub-problems to learn basic programming very quickly (a week may indeed be realistic). That is of course far from being proficient at programming, but you are probably not applying for jobs that require more, anyways.
  9. Dec 6, 2011 #8


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    I would not hire someone for ANY programming job with only a week of coursework, even if they happen to have ten PhDs.
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