Need Some Guidance on Career Path

In summary, the individual is struggling with indecision about their future and career path. They started out in Mechanical Engineering but switched to Physics after realizing their passion for it. However, their doubts arose when they began undergrad research and found it to be different from taking classes. They are unsure if they want to pursue a career in physics, especially after seeing the intense workload of their undergrad professor. They have considered dropping research and pursuing a Computer Science minor, switching research groups, taking engineering classes and going to grad school for engineering, or even leaving the U.S. and exploring other options. They are seeking advice and opinions from other physicists on what to do.
  • #1
ksmitty1223
5
0
I really need some guidance on what to do with my life. I'm going to do my best to organize my thoughts into an understandable manner, but forgive me if it sounds like I'm merely venting, as I have a lot on my mind.

Basically I started out college in Mechanical Engineering, and after about a year decided that I missed learning about Physics. I switched halfway through my Sophomore year and have never looked back. I'm now a second semester Junior, and absolutely love what I'm learning about. My doubts arose, though, when I began undergrad research (specifically in a biophysics group). I quickly realized that being a physicist is extremely different from taking classes on Physics. Quite frankly, the idea of going through data and making plots for the rest of my life really troubles me, and is in now way as fulfilling for me as learning mathematical physics in class. I've thought at times that perhaps it is just biophysics that bores me and I should try out another area for undergrad research, but I'm not so sure.

A year ago I was positive I wanted to go to grad school for physics and get a Ph.D and become a professor, but now I'm not so sure. Just watching how my undergrad professor lives, working 60-80 hours a week with no breaks, really puts me off from the idea even more. Granted, he loves what he researches and is quite passionate about it, but I feel that I have too many interests and hobbies to devote my entire life to one thing. Also, I'm the type of person that is afraid of someday working a 9-5 job, as I feel it is no way to live your life, so the idea of a working 24/7 job being tied to a lab is terrifying for me. I should also point out that this is in no way a slight towards those who do choose to do this. I really respect my undergrad research professor as he is extremely passionate about his work, and I am just hoping to find something that drives me to work as hard as he does everyday.

So lately I've just been switching back and forth every single day about what I want to do with my life. I switched to physics because I love learning about physics, but I don't know about being a physicist anymore. It's probably worth mentioning that I also am in the Math Major, and do well in school with a GPA of around 3.8 or something like that, I don't know. I still really want to go to grad school for something, and still love the idea of teaching, just not the research project that comes along with it at universities.
Recently I've proposed to myself a few ideas:

-Drop undergrad research and tack on a Computer Science minor (I really enjoy programming and a job in software engineering could be cool, maybe go to grad school in this area)

-Switch undergrad research groups into a field that sounds more appealing and see what happens.

-Take some engineering classes to get some real world applicability, and go to grad school for engineering (Aerospace engineering sounds really cool to me, though I may just be romanticizing it in my head).

-Go to grad school in physics, as planned, get a Ph.D and go into the private sector or something.

-Graduate, leave the U.S., travel the world and wing it.

I've been switching back and forth between these ideas for the last month or so, and thought it was time to post on here and see what other physicists think
 
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  • #2
sorry I just realized there was a career guidance section, I should have posted this there
 

Related to Need Some Guidance on Career Path

1. What steps can I take to determine my career path?

To determine your career path, first assess your interests, skills, and values. Consider taking career assessments, conducting informational interviews, and shadowing professionals in your desired field. Research potential career options and create a plan to gain the necessary education, experience, and skills.

2. Should I pursue a career that aligns with my passion or one that offers a higher salary?

This ultimately depends on your personal priorities and values. If you prioritize job satisfaction and fulfillment, pursuing a career aligned with your passion may be the best option. However, if financial stability is a top priority, you may want to consider a career with a higher salary.

3. How can I switch career paths if I am already established in a different field?

It is possible to switch career paths, but it may require additional education, training, or experience. Consider networking with professionals in your desired field, taking relevant courses, and gaining transferable skills through volunteer work or side projects. Be prepared to start at an entry-level position and work your way up.

4. What are some signs that it may be time to change my career path?

Signs that it may be time to change your career path include feeling unfulfilled or unhappy in your current job, lacking opportunities for growth and advancement, and having a mismatch between your skills and job responsibilities. Additionally, changes in your personal life or interests may also indicate a need for a career change.

5. How important is networking in determining my career path?

Networking is essential in determining your career path as it allows you to connect with professionals in your desired field, gain insights and advice, and potentially find job opportunities. Building a strong network can also help you stay updated on industry trends and advancements, which can inform your career decisions.

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