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Physics Majors Internship Opportunities

  1. Oct 24, 2013 #1
    Hey there. I made a thread in the academic guidance section, but I was advised to look here as part of my question pertained more to this area so here I am.

    I won't go into as much detail, but basically I'm an electrical engineering sophomore at the University of Houston on a full ride; however I feel that I'd enjoy a physics major much more while still being able to get into a graduate engineering program and ideally an engineering profession.

    A couple questions, however:

    1. I know many fellow engineering sophomores getting interviewed for high paying internships. While I'm sure physics interns don't get payed nearly as much, I was wondering if physics undergrads even had good opportunities for internships in general? Something to give me experience in a job and perhaps make a little money to help pay for grad school. Another thing with engineering internships is that often the business may pay for grad school as well; would any business be willing to pay for a physics undergrads engineering masters? Or is that mostly relegated to EE undergrads? Because while money should not be the only factor, I could always just study some physics on my own later in life if I can put myself in a fantastic financial situation.

    2. Will having a physics undergrad from a non top-tier university hurt my ability to get a job in the future, even if I got into a highly respected masters program? I went to Houston because of the scholarship, not my abilities, and am confident I can go somewhere 'better' for a masters (and since I'm not paying for undergrad, I can hopefully afford it in some way). I suppose in the same vein, would being from a non top-tier physics school hurt my chances getting into an engineering masters in the first place, and thus future job prospects as well?

    3. I noticed a lot of physics majors don't necessarily get jobs in science related fields. Is this because they don't want to work there, or because they can't find employment? I want to do science, not finance!

    Thanks for any help you guys can give! It's all greatly appreciated!
  2. jcsd
  3. Oct 24, 2013 #2
    Physics majors generally dont intern. If they do it through some other dept. Physics majors do undergrad research which is often unpaid but can pay minimum wage if you are lucky. I had to do it unpaid, but some of my classmates got minimum wage.

    Engineering masters, though they are competitive, they are not usually that competitive. This is because you have to pay to get it. If you suck and fail then they already have your money so they are ok. I do not think that being from a non top-tier school will matter with respect to getting an engineering masters. What matters is if you have the time and money to do it.

    I think many physics graduates dont get jobs in science related fields because they are unable to. Physics is a hard degree to sell and honestly physics grads often dont have marketable skills. I just came back from a job fair at my states big engineering school, just about an hour ago. Nobody there was interested in a physics grad. If you want to do science you need to get a PhD, do post docs and compete for the few positions they have. If you want to get a career in science related field, I suggest studying engineering.
  4. Oct 25, 2013 #3


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    I've seen things like http://cns.utexas.edu/career-design-center/jobs-interviews which suggests some science majors have internship opportunities. I don't know how common it is, nor where they intern, if they do. Perhaps you should find out from the science faculty or career office at your university.

    OTOH, if you know you want to do grad school in engineering, it makes more sense to do an engineering undergrad.
    Last edited: Oct 25, 2013
  5. Oct 29, 2013 #4
    Thanks for the responses guys. This is pretty much what I had expected, that I would be much more focused on research than internships.

    Part of the thing too is that I'm interested in nanotechnology. Granted, my school has a nano engineering minor which I will likely take if I stay EE; however I've been told that right now there aren't exactly many industries making use of nano technology or engineering, so if I wanted to get into that field I would more likely be doing research. And most of the professors here working on nano are in the Physics department, although either way I know people doing research in fields other than their major so I suppose it isn't a big deal.
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