1. Limited time only! Sign up for a free 30min personal tutor trial with Chegg Tutors
    Dismiss Notice
Dismiss Notice
Join Physics Forums Today!
The friendliest, high quality science and math community on the planet! Everyone who loves science is here!

Science or Finance?

  1. Sep 5, 2010 #1
    Hi, basically I'm trying to find a job but indecided as to where I want to go.

    I've been applying to Finance stuff in the City cos the pay is good... and I think its pretty glamourous to work there... but I've not been having much success, probably cos my background is science and I have no business/finance experience whatsoever. And am not very numerate, and not THAT interested in business/money...

    So I'm thinking maybe its better to stick to science cos thats what I know. I do enjoy learning about it, but I HATE lab work... but it would be so cool to discover something new in science. But to discover without lab work? seems unlikely...

    I don't know what to do!

    My dream (as stupid as it sounds) is to do something amazing with my life! haha. like something worthwhile, something that contributes to society. so science fits that pretty well...
    but in my past experiences of research, they've all been a lot of effort for a long time, but no reward. what if I never get lucky? and what if I go in to science (like start a phd) and find out that I dont like it anymore?
  2. jcsd
  3. Sep 7, 2010 #2
    These are probably the two of the worst reasons to work in finance.

    There's lots of jobs that aren't finance, where you can still make money.

    What's your background?

    Why don't you try to do theory?
  4. Sep 7, 2010 #3
    Thanks for the comment.

    So I have a Bachelor's degree in biology, have done a few months of lab research and also worked in a biotech company. But I didn't really like either cos research was fruitless and working in a production lab was horrible.
    You know, I just dont know if I am the type to succeed in science! For the following reasons:
    1. I don't think I am very smart: I'm not very sharp - it takes me some time to understand papers.
    2. I'm not very dedicated - I become enthusiastic very easily, but also get bored easily - I dont know if I can research one topic for years... I have no perseverance!
    3. I am clumsy and scared of chemicals/autoclave/liquid nitrogen/bunsen burners...

    Theory... (like theoretical science? that doesnt involve physical experiments?) I dunno, I'm not very numerate...

    sorry this is so lame! oh man...
  5. Sep 7, 2010 #4


    User Avatar
    Staff Emeritus
    Science Advisor
    Gold Member

    What about sales or customer service, for a technical company? Not exactly glamorous or amazing, but it will pay the bills until you decide what direction you want to go.
  6. Sep 7, 2010 #5
    Yeah, that was what I was applying to - admin stuff, but have not got any replies, guess its pretty competitive right now.
  7. Sep 7, 2010 #6
    If you want something badly enough, you can change. I think the thing that you have to figure out is what do you want, and if you are willing to put in the price and sweat you need to get what you really want, whatever that is. If you aren't smart, become smart. If you aren't dedicated, then become dedicated.
  8. Sep 12, 2010 #7
    The problem is that I dont want anything badly enough...
    I want a job, but I dont feel passionate about any career...
  9. Sep 12, 2010 #8

    I'm worried now. everyone is worried about me, and I dont like it!
    I was thinking maybe I should just do a phd... but I've read that scientific research is more of a lifestyle than a job, and it can be very depressing sometimes, and you are on your own in a lab most of the time, and because it is competitive, a lot of time and effort are needed to do well.
    I dont know, I like science, but I dont know if I can do all that! what if I cant do it?
    I would like to be able to talk to people in my job... and I think I get depressed easily enough as it is!
  10. Sep 12, 2010 #9
    Do you have a hobby?
  11. Sep 12, 2010 #10
    mmm... not really... (thats really sad!)
    ok some things I like (probs even more sad)
    I like reading... yeah I DO like reading! like books! and magazines :) I was reading fiction, but now I'm trying to read more about biology cos I have forgotten all I'd learnt: currently reading selfish gene :)
    I like travelling, but haven't been to THAT many places, but I like to experience new cultures.
    I like... I was trying to learn music instruments (guitar) but didnt get anywhere with it - too hard!
    hobbies... I dont do anything really consistently for it to be a hobby...
    I like cooking! and I think I make nice food! but my parents dont like most of the things I make... I was thinking about tea shops, but have no money to open a restaurant, and have to get up early... and working in a kitchen... all men... scary... not good at cutting... clumsy... basically not really feeling it is for me.
    I like animals - watching them, they're pretty! I was thinking about zoo work/ecology... but think it requires more physical power than I have... and only found voluntary positions available...
  12. Sep 12, 2010 #11
    Reading, writing and meeting people (taditional job for liberal arts majors) vs sitting in lab/in front of PC and calculating (science majors job). It's not true. There are jobs that require background in science even if you don't sit in lab. With your background you can work in technical sales in biotech company or get MBA instead of PhD and try to become executive. Science journalism, high school teacher are other options.

    What about being vet or breeder?
    Last edited: Sep 12, 2010
  13. Sep 12, 2010 #12


    User Avatar
    Homework Helper
    Gold Member

    You sound suited to a job in government or the European Union. :biggrin:
  14. Sep 13, 2010 #13
    haha I'm not good enough at sucking up to do that!
  15. Sep 13, 2010 #14
    yeah, in my last job I was doing kinda science-related admin stuff... I do like the talking to ppl part and not being totally submerged in stats/experiments. I guess management jobs might be ok... but... man... its so stupid, but I dont think it would fulfill my... ambition? as stupid at it sounds with my current situation. do you guys get that? like you want to be doing something really worthwhile and wont be satisfied doing something you consider not important? like you dont just want to be able to make ends meet and make a living or enjoy time out of work only? (for me worthwhile means something thats gonna remain for a long time, or affects people, like medicine, like science, not like advertising, sales... I dont know why I think like this, its just how I feel.) I want to do a job that I really enjoy and think is worthwhile... stupid high standards! so this makes things difficult!

    vet... I'm not that great at handling animals, I like watching them and all, but dont know about hands on...
    Last edited: Sep 13, 2010
  16. Sep 13, 2010 #15

    I'm coming from a similar path but I have a mathematics and accounting background (accounting I did years and years ago). I finished my M.Sc. in Number Theory (not finance related at all).

    I was going to take any job but decided to move back home and do more study. I want a finance job but the reality is... you won't get one without any kind of credential.

    Note: If you want to work in a bank, all you need is high school. So technically you're overqualified now.

    I signed up for the CFA exam (Level 1). Crazy hard but once you pass Level 1... that is huge. Without a CFA, you can't really get anywhere. If you never did accounting, or economics, then I don't recommend signing up for the December exam. Sign up for June and start studying today.
  17. Sep 14, 2010 #16
    talked to my much more with it friends, and they said I might be being a bit too picky - the way they chose careers was not what would be the ideal career, but what, within what they can do, they would hate the least.
  18. Sep 14, 2010 #17

    I wish I had your energy and drive! how do you keep motivated? My problem (one of them anyway) is I know what I need to do, but cant force myself to do it - such a bum. I know its cos I'm lucky and am not being forced on to the streets, but thats no excuse.

    Yeah see you did maths which is more related to finance than biology, and you seem to know you want to work in finance. I dont have any finance/business background, and I am not sure if I want to work there. The main attractions I see in finance/banking/managment consultancy work is: varied work, challenging work, travel opportunities, money, and glamour (I still think its cool to wear a suit and walk around like you own everything!)
    But, is that a good enough reason to go in to a job where I would give up all I learnt and be competing with ppl with 10 more years of experience than me?

    Or should I stay in science where I am used to, and try to make something of myself? The downsides to working in science is: I am terrified of labs - I had some bad experiences and now am scared of the autoclave, the liquid nitrogen, centrifuge, chemicals, bunsen burners...
    how am I gonna deal with that? and I dont want to work alone in a lab all my life.

    side note: I read ur other post, and I worked a couple weeks in a telephone caller role (not call centre tho) and they basically gave us notes on what to say in pretty much any situation! so what the customer said, we would have an answer. I found it pretty difficult despite that, so I guess just general tips: we were told to sit upright - dont slouch, smile when you are talking, sound energetic and happy, refer to the person by their name, and dont make people wait too long.
  19. Sep 15, 2010 #18

    hi guys!
    I went to the careers adviser today, and basically she saw that I was not commercial in anyway, and so said I should not apply to finance stuff cos I wont last long there. and I agree with her. so, no more finance/consultancy for my life! I have decided! :)

    So now I'm looking in to either academia, or grad scheme with some large company like loreal, p&g etc.
    Any advice will be greatly appreciated!
  20. Sep 15, 2010 #19


    User Avatar
    Staff Emeritus
    Gold Member

    You sound like me. I changed from a biology major to a biology minor because I got bored with all the lab work and ended up working in finance.

    Stick with science.
  21. Sep 15, 2010 #20
    thanks! so do you wish you'd stayed in biology? or do you enjoy finance?
    I mean, would you do anything differently if you went back in time?
  22. Sep 15, 2010 #21


    User Avatar
    Staff Emeritus
    Gold Member

    I'm a military officer working in finance, so my experience isn't the same as what you'd get in commercial finance, but I largely say stick with science because I think the world will be a better place when our most intelligent people quit getting diverted into finance. I'm a little cynical about the whole "quant" revolution, which I think proved to be a huge brain drain taking American engineering talent and putting it to work for Wall Street hedge funds. Plus, I grew up in Orange County, where it seemed like 90% of the people were either mortgage brokers or real estate agents. Again, plenty of smart people that could have been doing good things for the world if they weren't too busy skimming off the top of the subprime mortage housing bubble.
  23. Sep 15, 2010 #22
    yeah, money's not a HUGE drive for me, so I cant see myself working 90 hours a week or doing something a bit dodgy to get rich. and business just doesnt excite me - the careers advisor asked me if I read the business pages in the paper, and I'm more like a skip through it to read the gossip pages kind of person.
  24. Sep 15, 2010 #23


    User Avatar
    Homework Helper
    Gold Member

    My guess is it would be negative for you to force yourself into doing something you do not like or feel talented for - laboratory all day, 5 days a week.

    There are other jobs, some making use of scientific background and sensibility. Your uni doesn't organise careers days?

    You have a background in biology. A suggestion I might make (to make up for my nasty one :tongue2:) is find your biochemistry department or library and look through the professional society's journal 'The Biochemist'. It doesn't matter if you don't consider yourself a biochemist - it collaborates with other biological societies, it is just the biggest and most well-off. There is usually an article about careers. And publicity about careers events, though in September you may just have missed some. There used to be a series there called 'A day in the life of...' usually by someone who had gone into something not strictly the scientific research profession. Without spending too much time you could seek out relevant articles of the last couple of years or so.

    (I can't say the chances are high in a biochemistry department of meeting the kind of guy you go for, since these are physicists, but you probably know that already. Maybe a biophysicist:bugeye: would be better than nothing? Or even a biophysical chemist :yuck: if you are desperate.)
    Last edited: Sep 15, 2010
  25. Sep 15, 2010 #24
    That word “finance”. A low level underwriter at a small bank works in finance. So does a front desk trader at a large investment firm. There are lots of computer programmers who work in finance, and there are salespeople selling investments to consumers who work in finance. I also work in finance as an actuarial analyst.

    Yea, Wall Street is associated with finance. I value what WS does, but it doesn’t represent all of finance, despite what the public seems to think. Underwriters who make small business loans also work in finance. Non profit companies that help provide health insurance to the poor or cooperatives that provide life insurance to people with dangerous jobs are also financial organizations. Providing warrantees for multimillion dollar construction equipment is a financial activity, and it’s not anything like structuring CLO’s.

    Jobs in finance can be very different. The pay, the hours, the difficulty, the job outlook and the skills used all vary from one to another. Some of them I would enjoy and some I would despise. I’m not Futurama’s 80’s business dude; I’m a terrible salesperson, and I’m more interested in analyzing the bottom line than maximizing it. That adviser would have probably told me to give it up too, though I’m too stubborn to have listened.

    “Finance” isn’t a career path. It’s a very large number of different career paths.
  26. Sep 16, 2010 #25
    thanks for the advice epenguin. I'll check it out.
    as for meeting guys.... man, I'm bordering on giving up :p
Share this great discussion with others via Reddit, Google+, Twitter, or Facebook