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What adds value to a Physicist?

  1. Apr 5, 2015 #1
    Particularly, I mean trained skills rather than traits. For example, for a blank student/graduate who knows only physics theory, learning LaTeX would put them a little bit ahead. Then maybe some programming, learning simulation software etc.

    I'm finishing up my 2nd year in undergraduate right now, and I'm looking to learn something that would really make me of use to an employer as soon as possible.
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  3. Apr 5, 2015 #2


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    Problem Solving, Scientific Programming, Data Analysis
    Communication skills: written, poster, oral
  4. Apr 5, 2015 #3
    I appreciate the reply, but these things are a little vague. Could you be more specific?
  5. Apr 5, 2015 #4


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    Physics folks are generally good problem solvers... applying methods to fields outside of physics.
    Learn to write computer programs that model problems in the real world.
    Learn to write good lab reports, prepare good homework solutions, write good posters [with proper mathematical typesetting and graph labeling].
    Learn to speak clearly and confidently in front of an audience.

    Be self-motivated, independent, but also a good team-player.
    Last edited: Apr 5, 2015
  6. Apr 5, 2015 #5

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    Vague is good. It's not a checklist, I'm afraid. Can you present a poster? Can you program a computer? Well? And within these areas there is plenty of room for individual exploration and skill development: can you program? Can you program numeric computations efficiently?
  7. Apr 6, 2015 #6
    If you are looking is hit the ground running when you graduate then you must have developed usable skills by then.some social and some technical. CEO's list the three most desirable traits as good communication skills, good team player, (working well with others), and good problem solving ability. I would add good organizational skills to this list. So assuming you have and will continue to develop good problem solving skills add writing courses, courses related to project organization and management, Be aware of how you relate to others and correct negative or non productive behaviors.

    From the technical side acquire usable skills including familiarity with software used in research and industry like LabViIEW, MathLab, or COMSOL along with the basic programming languages as C++ and JAVA.. Try to become familiar with instrumentation and their use if possible. Practical lab experience would be very valuable. You must do the research to find those which will meet your needs and that you have ready access to . Check out the courses in the engineering and computer science departments. Remember Its all about what you can do for your prospective employer as well as how you are perceived, but don't assume that because you know something that you are a shoe in.
  8. Apr 6, 2015 #7


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    I would say being of use to an employer and getting hired by said employer are not the same thing, sadly. As Gleem said, CEOs claim they desire strong soft skills and problem solving ability but these are extremely difficult to evaluate in an interview so companies typically default to technical basics and a few trick questions that hopefully you've come across before.

    That said, if you're not going for a physics summer job and want a more engineering-oriented one the best thing you can do for yourself is become a good programmer, both in traditional languages like C and in heavily-used scripting languages such as MATLAB and Python. Once you get into an organization, THEN you will be evaluated on your team work, problem solving skills, etc. Getting your foot in the door can be the tricky part.
  9. Apr 6, 2015 #8
    Friends of mine who obtained jobs with only a bachelors did internships which gave them connections. Networking definitely qualifies as a skill, which is dependent upon your social abilities.
  10. Apr 6, 2015 #9
    CEO's or highly placed administrative persons usually only interview those who will be working close with them all others are interviewed mainly by Human resource personnel and department heads. They can evaluate communications skills starting with your resume and cover letter and extending into the interview.. Team work can be evaluated by your documentation of past experiences requiring team work and your presenting your interest and knowledge of the company's business during the interview. Make sure you can defend your documented skills and accomplishments. Honest is still the best policy.
  11. Apr 11, 2015 #10
    The reason you're getting vague answers is that it's impossible to answer this question without knowing what kind of job you want. Specific skills are highly dependent on job and employer. If you can identify your ideal job, look up the job description and target those requirements.

    I second networking as perhaps one of the most important skills you can develop to enter the workforce. Networking and related communications skills has gotten me and everyone I know more jobs than any other method.
  12. Apr 14, 2015 #11
    To second the notion that networking is valuable, I just got admitted to a fancy prestigious program for my PhD via a connection. For me, my grades and lack of hard evidence that I'm good at research can make it difficult to get noticed in the application pile, but if I can get an interview, I can quickly convince people I'm quite knowledgeable and hard working. It's amazing what a connection can do for you.
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