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Physics Paying to work?

  1. May 12, 2016 #1
    Hello, I'll try to keep this quick and to the point. Feel free to ask if you have any questions.

    I'm 24 years old now. I finished my physics B.S. last year. I studied in Utah and did research for my university for 8.50$ per hour. I've been living in poverty since I was 18 trying to become a physicist and make a future for myself.

    After finishing my degree last year I moved to Seattle where I am currently living because I wanted to make more money. Also, I know that UW has a great physics program so I knew graduate school would be a possibility here.

    Anyways.. what am I supposed to be doing? I'm 24 going on 30, my net worth is in the negative tens of thousands, I have no job opportunities, no girlfriend, and because of my location I really have no friends or family either. To be straight with you, I have no motivation right now. I've worked so hard and there's absolutely nothing to show for it.

    I love physics. If I had money to fix my car I'd be driving up to the UW to attend physics and philosophy meetings. I also love other things though... I'm almost comfortable speaking German, I wish I could travel there. I wish I had time and money to study business and politics. I wish I had time and money to participate in Bernie's campaign or something. But right now I'm just a jobless college grad with no car and no direction.

    Living in poverty as a physicist really damaged my passion for the field and right now I really really really don't want to pay to work for the next 5 years of my life, like what I did with the last 5 years.

    Fulfillment is what's most important to me in my life. I want to see as much as possible, learn as much as possible, and experience as much as possible. If I had it my way I'd be on a plane to another country planning to meet with some intellectuals from around the world. Instead though I'm walking up and down the street filling out job applications to Starbucks and McDonalds and stuff..
    Please any advice is much appreciated..
  2. jcsd
  3. May 12, 2016 #2


    Staff: Mentor

    One, don't despair you have a degree that is what you have to show. It will go a long way to show a company that you can do things.

    Two, with minimal funds not having a girlfriend is a plus.

    Three, you need to start thinking outside the box where everything is new. What skills do you have? Can you program a computer?

    Start looking for a job and stay focused until you find one.

    Seattle is a big software town, perhaps physics based games would be an area to pursue or computer simulations. With a BS in Physics, its unlikely you will find a physics based job but your math skills and other skills may be re-purposed to other work areas.
  4. May 12, 2016 #3


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    When you moved to Seattle, you apparently had a plan going forward, which, I hope, was more specific than "make money." What was it? What happened to it?With a degree, you should be able to get a job better than flipping burgers at McDonald's. It seems like you're leaving out a bunch of information.

    One thing you should look into is finding resources to help you get out of your rut. Get help from friends and family. Look into career workshops, etc. It's easy to feel like you're all alone, but realize there are people out there willing to help.
  5. May 12, 2016 #4
    Sorry I'm trying to leave out minor info.

    I sat in my room despairing back in Utah for almost a year before I just kinda lost it and packed up my stuff and left. That's why I'm here today even though I finished my degree last year.

    Also I figured since I'm interested in traveling I may as well get some experience resettling in a new place. Next I'd like to go live cheaply in Asia or go study cheaply somewhere in Europe.

    I have a lot of skills. I'm great with programming I just don't enjoy it on an hourly basis. All I need to derive E=Mc^2 is a pencil and paper. I mathematically model all sorts of things just for the hell of it. I've got a pile of like 30 notebooks full of a bunch of random mathematical modeling. I'm also capable of working well under pressure, I'm capable of public speaking, I'm capable of making major decisions, capable of finance and accounting, etc. (I studied finance in my last years of undergrad.)

    Jeez if my research group in Utah would have hired me as their accountant they would have been able to afford to pay me accordingly. They had no idea what they were doing with their money. I wasn't about to go offer advice to someone who treated me like a pawn though.
  6. May 12, 2016 #5


    Staff: Mentor

    Well then perhaps you need to get a presence on LinkedIn and other job oriented websites.

    Perhaps you can locate a headhunter to help you search for a job.

    If you have some interesting simulations perhaps they could become articles to publish or even a book on simulations who knows.These could be talking points in your resume that you need to customize to each job you apply (and keep a copy of each one) telling them what they want to hear that you have to offer (don't give them any reason to reject you like don't say the 9-5 or first shift only... you'll work anytime anywhere period)

    You need to disavow yourself of the 9-5 notion too as programmers can work flexible hours and also many more than 40 per week.

    Don't let your principles shoot you in the foot. When I graduated from HS I vowed never to work at GE. When I graduated from college, it was the first place I looked and I got hired in hours of applying. It wasn't a programming job, it was in computer operations and after a year and half I got promoted to programmer. One of the reasons I got hired was because I was vouched for by folks who knew me from Explorer Scout. I was the poster child for the Scout program that GE sponsored.

    Sometimes you just need o get your foot in the door and then work your way into a better position.
  7. May 12, 2016 #6


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    One issue I see is that you seem to be assuming that one chooses a location first, then a vocation. In today's world it tends to work the other way around... you go where the work is. And preferably, you get a job first, then move to accommodate.

    Jedishrfu is giving some great advice. Sure, in an ideal world you'd be making major decisions and developing mathematical models with pencil and paper, but unfortunately you have to play the hand you're dealt. The point is that first you find A job. Then you find THE job. If that means that you have to compromise on a few things then you have to start thinking about what your priorities really are. For example, maybe you could put up with a 9-5 programming job if that gave you the opportunity to spend your evenings and weekends assisting with the political campaign of your candidate, travelling, etc. It's nice when fulfillment comes through a career, but there are plenty of other avenues to it.
  8. May 13, 2016 #7


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    Hey Hertz.

    Realize that the job market is like a game and unfortunately the game has a lot of politics and superficiality.

    If you have a personality that goes against this sort of thing then it can alienate you from a lot of opportunities and I'd recommend speaking to someone independent to assess whether it's something you may want to consider working on.

    People of all sorts play this game in their working life and although you don't have to be false - you often need to compromise in some capacity in the working environment.

    It's sad that many facets of human society are based on this - but unfortunately this is how the world currently works.

    If you can combine the above information with your skills then I think it will open up a world of opportunities you never thought existed and I wish you the best of luck.
  9. May 14, 2016 #8


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    I hope that's not an an answer to Vela's question, because if it is it is a really bad one. Have you done anything in the past year that might help you out of this predicament? Talked to a guidance/career counselor? Gone to a job fair? Browsed monster.com to look for jobs in your field?

    It really is true that you need to make life happen because if you just let life happen to you, it tends to happen badly.
  10. May 14, 2016 #9


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  11. May 14, 2016 #10

    Charles Link

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    My advice would be to first find yourself a simple, but somewhat rewarding lower-paying job=something to keep you busy, feel useful, and that you can make a few contacts and work your way up from there. You won't lose your academic skills if you put them on hold for a couple of months. Even when going to college, some of my better times were the summer jobs that were completely of a non-academic nature. It is important to experience the non-academic circles as well. The job search for highly technical jobs can be slow-going and you want to be able to take your time in selecting those opportunities. Become an active participant in your neighborhood=e.g. make friends and play sports in the parks, etc. Broaden your horizons, but be patient with the pace of things. I do think things will work out for you.
  12. May 21, 2016 #11
    You don't need to go half way across the world to have interesting, intellectual discussions.

    Sure, those jobs might not be what you want. But you said it yourself: you can't even fix your car.

    So make a plan. Maybe it involves getting a low-income job and saving up to fix your car. Maybe it involves learning some more programming and starting a small project that you dedicate time towards. Maybe it involves volunteering on weekends. Maybe it involves getting out and participating in these things you mentioned above instead of just talking about your passions.
  13. May 25, 2016 #12


    Staff: Mentor

    I want to thank everyone for contributing here but I think the thread has run its course and its time to close it.

    Thank you all
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