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Recent grad moving to new city

  1. Nov 20, 2008 #1
    Hello everyone. I recently graduated with a B.S. in physics from St. Louis and am moving to Austin, TX very soon. I'm at a bit of a crossroads and can't figure out exactly my best course of action and am hoping to get some advice or to hear your experiences. My plan was to apply to UT-Austin and go to graduate school in Fall '09, while trying to find a job in the mean time. However, since I only want a Masters degree, this is proving to be more complicated than I thought. First off, there is no financial assistance available for this course of action from what I can tell. I certainly cannot afford to pay tuition as it stands now without working down there, so I would have to go part time unless I could save a lot initially. The other option is to apply to the Ph.D program to get the assistance and then quit early for the M.S degree if I decided not to continue. This stands the risk, I assume, of upsetting people I probably don't want to upset and also I don't think the course of action to getting a M.S and PhD are the same. As a FURTHER complication, I missed the chance to take the GRE subject test, have to apply in December and can't take it again until April, so that means I'm lower priority. I'm hoping my 4.0 GPA can overcome this, but it's a competitive school and they might not even look at me. What are your opinions?

    Finally, the job situation. I've had some research projects all through my undergrad career that can beef up my resume a little bit, but I still cannot hope for a prestigious position with a B.S. degree and little to no experience. The most notable thing I've done is a summer research position with a local Silicon wafer manufacturer. I was doing Transmission Electron Microscopy characterization of different parts of the process that gave me some sample preparation experience and shows I can get results to problems. Would you recommend I take some of my research and try to get a publication or two in some more obscure journals, or do you think that this won't make a huge difference in the type of jobs I can land with my qualifications? I know it couldn't hurt to have my name on some papers, but I have limited time and need to spend it optimally. Thanks in advance for taking the time to read this!
  2. jcsd
  3. Nov 20, 2008 #2
    Do you not have som kind of taught degree across the pond? Like they do in the UK and the rest of europe?
  4. Nov 20, 2008 #3
    If they do, it costs money that I don't have right now. From what I understand, the only way to get a tuition waiver and stipend to pursue a Master's degree is to tell them you're pursuing a PhD and then once you complete the requirements, tell them you've changed your mind and don't want to go any further. But it also seems that there are several things one must do in pursuit of a Ph.D, even early on, that are not necessary if you want a Masters, so I'd have to jump through some hoops and do extra work that will have been a waste, along with being dishonest. It just seems like a sticky situation that I'd like to avoid if possible.
  5. Nov 20, 2008 #4
    You could try finding a job somewhere with your physics degree that might pay for your graduate school tuition. I know some companies pay for their employee's graduate school; however, im sure the process is alot more complicated than this may make it seem.
  6. Nov 21, 2008 #5
    Ok, so we have a real cheapo here...

    *cursewords*, just save up the frigging money when you work and buy yourself a place at some good school and get that Msc if you can't get your company to buy the place for you. WHY do you have to have the degree this instant? just wait a bit and see. If you really want it, you will get it.
  7. Nov 21, 2008 #6
    No need for curse-words. The sooner I get the degree, the sooner I can get a job that I want. With a bachelors and no experience, I'll probably be stuck in a thoughtless job that anyone can do and I was chosen not because they want me to use physics, but because I have the piece of paper saying I can get through a program. This is my assumption anyway and that's why I made the post, to see what others have done and what I should anticipate. And if cheap means that I don't want to spend tens of thousands of dollars if I can avoid it, you're darn right. I went through my undergrad career debt-free and hope to do the same for grad school. The company paying is a good suggestion, but if I can avoid it, I'd rather not work and try to do graduate level physics in the evenings. I could do it, but it's a much more desirable option to go to school full time and get it done in a year or so instead of working full time and going to school part time for probably 3 years. It's also more economical. If I spend an extra two years getting the MSc, those are two years I could be making MSc degree money doing a job I probably enjoy more. I only get to make this decision once, so I might as well make a good one. Thanks for all the responses.
  8. Nov 22, 2008 #7
    Ok, maybe it was unnecessary to just burst out like that. But I feel that many in my generation (my ansatz is that you are somewhat in my age-range) do not have the understanding of corporate culture. For them to wager money on you; The ball in your hand is to actually make an effort in whatever your work is.

    Another tip on the way is; If you are doing your job very good, despite it being a dead-end-MickyDs'-job as you describe it (do they actually exist for a physics Bsc?) you will get promoted to do other things. Even at my summerjob, I worked at a plant manufacturing concrete slabs, and the head honcho saw that I got potential and let me do other stuff that was more fulfilling for me as an engineering-student.

    So, do your job properly and better than the other mindless drones, and you will get noticed.

    Another thing that really gives me a good cup of rage is that you want something at no cost. No cost to you, probably no effort as well and just the piece of paper that says "higher paygrade, more power and more selfdetermination in my work".

    Because you say "I won't pay for it myself/save up", "I won't do it in the evenings" and "I want to cheat some poor ol' school to waiver the tuition so I can bail ship when it suits me".

    Listen up bub, and listen up good. NOTHING comes at no price or no effort from your part in life. And I really mean that. Not in a sarcastic manner, but more in a "man the **** up"-way.

    Like I said, if you really want this degree and what it stands for, then you will get it, when the time is due, the money is cashed in etc.

    We can put it this way, what is more satisfying?

    A you plan a great and romantic date with a women you really like and probably will love for a long time. You put a lot of effort in, even your guy friends get all "WTF, I didn't know you had those romantic streaks in you" and your girl friends get all "AWWW, how sweet" and prolly get a bit jealous because their bf's are D-bags who won't do stuff like that.


    B, the women of your dreams just comes at you in a bar and she loves you instantly with no effort from your side of things... And with no effort and hard work, this relationsship will in the end (psychologically speaking) mean zilch in your life, or when you look back at your life.

    Guess what, A is a bit more satisfying. At least for me. But I know most people in my generation prefers B.
  9. Nov 22, 2008 #8

    Dr Transport

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    Prestigious position with a BS, could you give an example.....You have a BS degree, expect to start at the bottom as a level 1 Scientist/Engineer, bottom of the barrel. With a Masters you will move up to a pay grade 2. To give you a sense where the levels are, we have 6 and a vast majority never make it past 4 or 5, less than 1% make it to level 6 and many of them don't get there until they have been around 30-35 years. In my case, I am a level 4 and the education/work requirements are

    BS with 13 years experience
    MS with 7 years experience
    PhD with 5 years experience

    Those are the minimums to be considered and get promoted. My background is a PhD with 8 years at the company, I suspect that if I do well, I'll make grade 5 in maybe 5 more years, if I am lucky.
  10. Nov 22, 2008 #9
    Prestigious was probably a bad word choice. What I meant by that was a job where I get to actually use the skills I gained in getting my degree. Something where I can use critical THINKING skills and not just follow some pre-determined standard that any trained monkey could do. As for Fearless, I appreciate your intention, but don't feel obligated to keep replying. Yea, I get it, hard work pays off. I am planning on working hard, but I don't plan on wasting time or effort when it can be avoided. The idea of applying to a PhD program and possibly opting out early was advice from the Dean of my college and confirmed by my adviser. It apparently isn't uncommon because who's to say that once I get into the program I won't enjoy it and keep going? Departments expect some people to not go all the way to the end, so it's part of the game, like it or not. I'm not looking for a free piece of paper or handouts, but I'd like to consider all possibilities and opportunities available to me before I make a decision. My 4.0 GPA should be somewhat indicative of my ambition and devotion to hard work, so please, if you have nothing helpful to say, save your rants for another thread. Thanks to the people who are trying to useful suggestions and information.
  11. Nov 23, 2008 #10

    Vanadium 50

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    While sometimes I think "Fearless" meant to type "Tactless" when he joined, he has a point.

    The biggest obstacle in your path to success is your sense of entitlement. The physics department of Texas is not obligated to give you a free ride, particularly when you plan to bail. A corporation will hire you to do work it needs done, which is not necessarily the work you'd like to be doing. (That's why they call it "work")

    The people who are most successful are the ones who are willing to do exactly what you call "wasting effort". I have a photograph of a Nobel laureate pulling cables - unpleasant and hard work, but it needed to be done and he did his part. I know a retired CEO of a Fortune 100 who started in the mailroom. A former CEO of a restaurant chain was known for cleaning any bathroom he found dirty himself.
  12. Nov 23, 2008 #11

    Dr Transport

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    A symptom of the younger generation, this is why they job hop on the average of every 3-5 years. I worked with a guy about 5 years ago, same situation, high GPA, some co-op experience. He left for greener pastures after a year because he expected to be making 20% more than his starting salary. He left, went out to the west coast and from what I heard, has been in two jobs since and still not happy. The funny thing he had two offers when he left us, one paid a slightly higher salary and he had the opportunity to develop his own projects (it was a job shop type of place), the other was working for a major aerospace firm and having the opportunity to work a long term program and develop his engineering skills further. He chose the former and within a year and a half was very frustrated that he couldn't get enough contracts to cover his salary and finally left to work for a traditional company. (He found out he wasn't as smart as he thought he was.)

    The long and short of it, you have to work to be appreciated and your setting your expectations a little to high. You are an unknown, no graduate degree in a discipline that it is the norm. You will use your critical thinking skills, but you will have to deal with the grunt work that every entry level engineer/scientist has to do. Even if you do go to graduate school, the chances of hooking up with an adviser and running your own lab and project for a PhD will take time, you'll get picked up and you'll be doing the grunt work for some other student who is finishing his degree and down the road after you have proved yourself, you'll get the opportunity to be the big person in the lab.
  13. Nov 24, 2008 #12
    Fair enough. I'm not sure my wants have come off clearly though. I'm not looking for more responsibility than I can handle and I realize I have very little to offer in the work force aside from potential. I'm not opposed to doing grunt work, I just want to make sure I'm in an environment that IS providing me the opportunity to learn more and make myself more marketable. My adviser told me that though it's easier to take the first job offer you have, mindless work or not, it's also possible to put in the extra effort and land a job that's going to be more enjoyable and challenging. That's all I'm looking to do. I've heard the stories of people getting garbagety jobs where they have little room for advancement and use nothing from their education, except for the piece of paper to get the interview. If this makes me a naive young person, so be it. I'm not sure how wanting a good job = unwillingness to work. Is there any other advice aside from "Except that you're going to get a mindless job"? Don't mistake a willingness to seize opportunities for a sense of entitlement.
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