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Physics graduate can't get job with defense contractor

  1. Jan 23, 2010 #1
    I just graduated with my BS in physics and applied math this December 2009. I'm currently taking 2 mechanical engineering classes right now through my school's extension program for BA/BS degree holders. After taking these ME classes for 3 weeks now, I'm certain that I want to enter ME for my career. I know I want to eventually go for a MS in ME.

    But I'm debating whether to seek employment right now, even if it means dropping those classes in the middle of the semester, or to just take the classes. The problem is that I wish the most to work on tanks, weapons, and missiles for a defense contractor, but I'm not getting any job offers from them. I have gotten a few interviews for other technical positions, such as computer programming/math for economics/finance and website-design companies, but none of them sounded very interesting. If I get future offers for these positions, should I take them, so that I could put them on my resume as work experience so that I can eventually obtain an engineering position? Or should I just wait until I get an offer for a position related to engineering at a defense contractor, not just because the work is more interesting, but because they can also reimburse me to work on a MS part-time?

    Another dilemma that I'm having is that I applied to the government labs, such as Sandia, for the SULI summer program. When I applied, I wasn't sure I wanted a phD or MS. But now after thinking it through, I'm sure I want a MS. If I get offered a position at one of those labs, should I take the offer?

    Sorry my situation sounds so complicated, but I'd really appreciate it if any one could help, probably physics BS -> engineering MS people could help the most.
     
  2. jcsd
  3. Jan 23, 2010 #2
    Having been a summer intern at Sandia, I know that there is the possibility of them paying for your MS if they want to keep you on. I kind of wish that I had taken them up on that sort of an offer but with a PhD. They pay pretty well and treated me well. I just wasn't interesting in staying in the area of physics they had me working in (radiation detection). I was a physicist continuing on with physics, but there are plenty of engineers there.
     
  4. Jan 23, 2010 #3

    russ_watters

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    Staff: Mentor

    Do the jobs you are applying for have physics on the acceptable degrees list? Either way if you want to be an ME I wouldn't drop the classes. There is an awful lot you can do on tank design - materials and electrical engineering too.
     
  5. Jan 23, 2010 #4
    If you can afford to go to school, go for it; Finish what you have started if you can. If not, working and getting tuition aid from an employer is a great alternative...but involves LONG hours; I have done both....there is no "one size fits all". Taking a position in a large company often means that your success in one area will enable you to move on to other areas with the company.

    I just read a scathing article at the Heritage Foundation website regarding how many of our major military systems are now over twenty years old...that they have been neglected and underfunded.....many airframes for example, and I guess the Abrahams tank despite it's awsome performance in the middle east. So maybe defense is a lackluster area in a lackluster economy..maybe not. I don't know.

    One thing for sure, President Obama has repeatedly said he wants to redistribute wealth, and has not voiced support for major military defense initiatives. So you might check out financial reviews of defense contractors ( stocks) and see what Wall Street thinks about the defense industry. Healthcare is a natural "growth" area due to aging baby boomers; the defense industry may be in the doldrums for the next several years because of spending on other priorities. But the US defense industry also provides systems all around the world so the world economic and political situation IS relevant.
     
  6. Jan 23, 2010 #5
    some of them have physics listed under required or desired majors

    i can afford paying tuition for an MS, but of course i'd much rather save alot of money and try to get paid to do it while working for a company.
     
  7. Jan 24, 2010 #6

    ZapperZ

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    Education Advisor

    Have you ever considered that maybe you're being too picky and consequently, have narrowed down your choices way too much? I have never thought that it is a good idea for new graduates to have such narrow vision on the career that they want to pursue. It is difficult enough to get a job. It is even worse when you only want to do certain types of jobs and limit your search to just those.

    Zz.
     
  8. Jan 24, 2010 #7
    I have, that's why i asked: "I have gotten a few interviews for other technical positions, such as computer programming/math for economics/finance and website-design companies, but none of them sounded very interesting. If I get future offers for these positions, should I take them, so that I could put them on my resume as work experience so that I can eventually obtain an engineering position?"

    I don't know if its better to take jobs that don't sound interesting or to just take engineering classes and wait for grad school
     
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