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Job Skills Not sure what jobs I am qualified for

  1. May 16, 2017 #1


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    I am a semester away from graduating with my Bachelor's Degree in Physics, and I am not sure which jobs I should apply for.
    The only two careers I know for sure would be High School Education and Process Operator. But because of my B.S. I tend to be told I am overqualified for the Operator position. Recruiters are afraid I am just using it as a stepping stone into engineering... but I don't feel like I am qualified to be an engineer :(

    maybe I just don't understand what an Engineer actually does on a day-to-day basis?
    Perhaps if I list a few of my qualifications, someone can give me some ideas? And if you are feeling extra generous, tell me what the responsibilities are that I am qualified to do? please... :)

    B.S. Physics
    AAS Industrial Technology with Concentration in Process Technology.


    Computer and Cellphone Technician ----- at a small technology retail store that did sales and repairs

    Tire and Battery Technician. --------I change/fix/rotate tires and change batteries. Also do headlight restores...

    Maintenance Internship at a refinery. ----------- I am not really qualified to do maintenance work. I just followed the machinists and millwrights around the plant and observed, lent a hand. I was more helpful to the contractors who were assisting the machinists crew.
    Eventually they put me with the preventative maintenance crew (I believe that's who they were). We walked around the plant checking the temperatures of various equipment and so forth and entered the data into spreadsheets. That was more my speed. I was able to help them a bit with Excel (I'm pretty good with excel. Not "writing macros" good, but much better than the average joe).

    Probably worth mentioning:
    I don't know how to program.
    Degree GPA: 2.933 (with 9 more hours to go)
    Major GPA: 2.286 (with 9 more hours to go)
    Cumulative: 2.688 (with 9 more hours to go)

    My major GPA is low... I had a couple bad semesters. Where it just didn't work out... But I retook those classes and did much better.
    Some (or many) people are able to work full-time and go to school and do very well... for me it wasn't always the case. :( But I made it through... and if I have to start at the bottom somewheres, that's ok with me.

    I'm going to try and calculate my gpa for my major GPA excluding the classes that I repeated.

    EDIT: Just tested it and found that the major gpa calculation method used by my university is the average of all PHYS courses.
    If I exclude the ones that I repeated for a better grade, then my major gpa is 2.818. It isn't a 3.2, but it is a heck of a lot better than a 2.286. Perhaps I can explain that away?
    Last edited: May 16, 2017
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  3. May 17, 2017 #2


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    Does your university have a career center? They may be able to help. Your GPA may be a hurdle to be overcome. Perhaps not a rigid barrier, but something that will need to be dealt with. Note that some company recruiters use GPA as a starting filter. So if you can get past those, then you can start with talking about how you have improved over time. Are there any professors, who you look up to, and perhaps feel comfortable asking advice? Just because they teach now, doesn't mean they always did that. Or at the least, they may have contacts in industry which you could talk with.

    I would think that some sort of programming could come in handy. Perhaps you could talk to somebody about if that could benefit you. Maybe an online class would be enough to at least give you some level of knowledge. Those are my thoughts. I hope it helps.
  4. May 17, 2017 #3


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    I tried programming... I don't know...

    Or maybe I need to go to graduate school? If I get a Master's Degree, will my undergrad GPA matter anymore?

    Or maybe I should just be teacher. It is the one thing I am sure I can do. I was just hoping that I had more opportunities available to me.
    Last edited: May 17, 2017
  5. May 17, 2017 #4

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    With your GPA that will be difficult.
  6. May 17, 2017 #5


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    I don't know. My advisor keeps asking me if I plan on going to graduate school. He's the Department Chair... I don't know if I will be able to get into graduate school or not, but he gives me the impression that I could.
    I think they are desperate for grad students.

    But I'll probably end up getting a Master's Degree in Education or some other form of alternative certification. whatever happens.
    All of the time and money wasted.
  7. May 17, 2017 #6


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    To the OP:

    What you are doing is asking the wrong question. The question should not be what kinds of jobs you should apply for or qualify for -- you could apply for any job that happens to be advertised, and an employer will decide whether to take a chance with you and determine whether you are qualified for that job.

    What you really should be asking yourself are these questions:

    (1) What types of careers do you want to have?

    (2) What skills do you have that an employer would value?

    (3) What skills do you need to gain so that you can get the types of careers that you want?

    You can't go with "I don't know..." That attitude will only lead to failure. At this stage in life, you need to start having an idea of what you want to do!

    Once you have answered these questions, then you need to take practical steps to work toward getting those careers. These steps include the following:

    (1) Taking courses while in school to gain skills. You said you don't know programming -- you should fix this! Take computer science courses, or do self-study, or study using Coursera of EdX or other online platforms to build some programming skills. Set up a Github account and post open-source code to demonstrate your skills.

    (2) Work on building your resume, highlighting the key skills you possess, as well as any experience that would be relevant. Customize your resume toward particular jobs that you want to apply to. Work on writing that cover letter/e-mail making the case that you can contribute to that company. Sell yourself!

    (3) Network, network, network!! Set up a LinkedIn account, talk to people you know (professors, classmates, past graduates, etc.) about where they ended up. Go to job fairs. Search online for contact names. Set up informational interviews to companies that you're interested in, and show enthusiasm -- something that is super lacking in your posts here.

    (4) Apply to as many places as you can. Be as flexible as possible in where you can work for your first time job. If you can relocate, that is good. However, if there are specific places you want to work at, then tailor your applications to key businesses/industries/organizations well-known in that area that you're interested in applying.

    (5) Repeat (1)-(4).

    If you follow these steps, then you are improving your chances of landing a meaningful position -- nothing is guaranteed in life, but you are boosting your odds. Best of luck!

    PS: I know you mentioned getting a Masters in Education and working in high school teaching, and you talk about "all of the time and money wasted". First, get rid of that attitude -- your education is only a waste if you make it that way! (see what I said earlier). Second, do you actually want to teach? Teaching is a noble profession, so if this is something you want to do, then that is a good thing!
  8. May 17, 2017 #7


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    I don't really know. I am looking for ideas.
    The only skills I really have that stand out are creative problem solving, and teaching.
    I don't really know what is out there. That's why I asked this question. I am trying to get an idea of what I want to do, but I need to start somewhere, and google has been no real help. I've been researching for years now, and I am finally trying to ask. My wallet isn't fat enough to just look at every job available, I have to look at stuff I can reasonably expect to be qualified for in 6 months. and then build from there.

    I just need ideas for what kind of stuff to look at.
    I tried programming. I took two classes. It just doesn't agree with me. I'm going to give it another go, but with my level of trouble, I feel like it will require private tutoring after I get a job somewhere and can afford to broaden my skillset.
    I don't know if I could handle teaching. I can handle tutoring, but it isn't a guarantee. So I am looking at alternatives just in case.

    I wasn't referring to teaching as wasted. If I can handle the job, I think I would be quite happy. I love teaching, I'm not worried about how much money I make. I like the idea of. having lots of time off to enjoy life rather than working all the time.
    But tutoring and teaching are two different games, I think. And I have subbed (which is also different), and the kids these days are uncontrollable... I don't know if I can handle managing a classroom full of kids.
  9. May 17, 2017 #8


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    Let me ask you this question -- is there anything (whether in or outside of classes) that you liked, or really enjoy? You did state that you had interned in maintenance work at a refinery and from your first post, it sounded like you enjoyed the work -- that's a useful skillset which could translate into many skilled labour type positions. A physics degree can be a good complement.

    Think along those lines, as an example to start.

    Can you give me a specific example of creative problem solving outside of the classroom? Highlight that in a resume.

    Remember what I said about networking, specifically talking to recent graduates in your physics programs. I'm sure not all of them went to grad school. Try getting a hold of them and ask them what they have done.

    The thing is that physics is not a vocational degree -- it's an academic degree (like English, history, math, etc.) You can supplement your degree with practical skills, but the onus is on you to think about what you would like to do.

    When you say it "doesn't agree with you" what do you mean? Do you have a difficult time translating a given problem into a working algorithm? Do you have trouble remembering syntax? The simple truth is that any quantitative work will involve at least some programming (even in jobs which don't involve software development), so you better do everything you can to work on this.

    If the problem is the way CS classes are taught at your college/university, then online courses on places like Coursera, EdX or CodeAcademy may help you, and they cost you nothing.

    I acknowledge that teaching can be a challenge and part of "controlling" American kids (really motivating the kids to pay attention to you) will involve having a strong, assertive, attractive personality with a clear, strong speaking voice. Whether that's for you or not, I can't say, but at least that's something worth considering.
  10. May 17, 2017 #9


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    Well I wouldn't mind being an operator. or doing the job that I had been doing at the plant where I just gathered data from the equipment to see whether it was performing acceptably.

    The issue with these jobs is that my Physics Degree "over qualifies" me. my gpa for the associates degree was like a 3.8 btw. but because of my physics instruction, the only thing employers see is an engineer trying to get his feet wet. I'm not guessing, that's what the interviewer from Shell told me when I was interviewed for a position.
    I am in a tight spot. I am at once, over and under, qualified.
    I mean... I can't think of anything specifically brilliant off of the top of my head. Not sure if the word creative is proper either.
    I'll try to think of examples, but to be more specific. Often people have problems that they can't solve, and I am often capable of figuring out unique/novel solutions to those problems.

    And on a different note, I'm a good troubleshooter. And I tend to be good at researching information.
    When I was studying for my associate's degree, we had to do these simulations on the computer where we would follow a startup procedure for a unit, and we would be graded. Everybody was doing very poorly, and no one could get above a 60/100.

    I began to wonder whether or not we had the right procedure for the Unit. I went searching for the procedures from the manufacturer of the software, and I found them. I printed the one up for the Unit we were working with, and I compared them. And I found that somehow or another, the procedure my professor had given us was missing a vital step. After that, we were all getting 90s-100s. The Professor didn't even know what I had done. I did this on my own time. I missed the next class, and then on the following class, I walked in and the entire class and professor "attacked" me wondering how I managed to get a 97%. lol.
    I'm like... I just followed the correct procedure... lol. that's in class though. But that is typical for me.

    I can't really give an example of brilliance because my job doesn't really require brilliance. But I do come up with solutions to problems that other people tend to give up. It almost becomes a challenge for me. To invent a solution. any example I can give will probably seem pretty mundane or obvious, but in the situations, and to the people I help...
    I'll try of some.

    I'm going to give those a shot. I am able to do simple programming. But it is boring and easy. So I have trouble paying attention to the professor. I do all of the assignments and pass. then somewhere in the middle of the semester, I wake up and find him talking about something I had never seen before... and it is too late for me. mingled in with the information I already know was tidbits here and there leading up to the more difficult material. And I missed it.

    It is something that needs to be taught at my pace. quick over some things and slow over others.
    yeah. It doesn't help that I look really young for my age. I'm considering it though.
    Last edited: May 17, 2017
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