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Trying to decide on a career path

  1. Feb 25, 2014 #1
    Hi. I'm not entirely sure if this thread belongs here. I apologize in case it does not.

    I am currently on my third bachelor year on Physics. I have been thinking about the future lately, as I don't know what kind of job I want to have, and I feel utterly lost. I enjoy physics, and I am determined to finish my degree, but I can't see myself on any "typical" physicist job. Particularly I don't think I would enjoy much being a researcher, nor a teacher. I know that my preferences could radically change two years from now (which is when I expect to have completed my degree), but I'd like to know what other options I have.

    The areas that I can see myself working on are

    1) Something related to coding. I always enjoyed computer programming, and I've been some years doing it as a hobby. Maybe web developer, game programmer...?

    2) Something related to music (or sound). I've been a musician for a long time. A job in which I could be involved in both music and physics really appeals to me. Maybe structural acoustics, or some kind of musical instrument engineer?

    3) Something related to writing. I am good with words and I love languages, but I don't know what are the prospects of having this kind of job for someone with a physics background. Maybe science journalist?

    If there's any of you that after completing some kind of Physics studies has gone on any of these "paths" I could really use some orientation, as I feel like I should start "moving" towards some direction.

    Thank you for your time.
  2. jcsd
  3. Feb 26, 2014 #2


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    My 2 cents:

    1) Good option. If you haven't had many formal programming classes, I advise you to collect your best programs in a portfolio to show to potential employers. It can pay well.

    2) Like option 1, you will need a portfolio of projects, or further formal training in acoustic engineering. When you work, the pay can be good, but I'm guessing employment might be spotty and geographically constrained.

    3) Like options 1 and 2, you will need a portfolio of your writing to get that first job. Writing jobs are often temporary or freelance (i.e., no benefits). Money might be tight.

    My advice: writing can and probably will be part of a programming job. Music is extremely competitive and unpredictable, but it makes a great hobby. If you like programming, you should go in that direction. Just my opinion!
  4. Feb 27, 2014 #3
    Thank you, I appreciate it :-)
  5. Mar 1, 2014 #4
    I went the IT/coding route, mostly working in universities. Never had a problem finding a job. I also fancied science journalism and applied to several newspapers/magazines but got nowhere. I did have a portfolio, as I did some science journalism for my student newspaper. (Interviewing researchers on campus about their work, and that kind of thing.) I did land a job as an abstracter, and although this might seem a bit dry, it seemed like a fun place to work. But I took the another option. It might have been a "way in" to sexier science writing kind of jobs. If you are in the UK, think about taking an MSc conversion course in computer science, if you can't land a job immediately. Programming is really where the opportunities are in abundance. *Many* businesses employ computer "wizards", hardly any employ journalists or musicians.
  6. Mar 4, 2014 #5
    So the best path so far seems IT. Thank you for your answers.

    Can you tell me how did you land a job on IT/coding? Did you have any prior formal education outside of physics?
  7. Mar 4, 2014 #6
    I took some programming classes at school and continued coding at University for fun. Then I landed a "numerical modelling in magnetohydrodynamics" position as my first serious paid job. Then I moved into various programming jobs that had no relation to physics - based, primarily, on what looked like the most fun and, secondary, what paid best. This was several decades ago, taking formal courses may be more necessary these days.
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