What is the likelihood of a physics major getting an engineering job?

  • #1

Main Question or Discussion Point

I’ve been told that physics majors are looked at favorably when applying for entry-level engineering jobs.
Is this true?
How qualified are they when compared to engineering majors?
Are applied physics majors looked at any differently?
Do employers care about an undergraduate thesis?
 
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Answers and Replies

  • #2
berkeman
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For entry-level engineering jobs, I look at the classes they've taken and done well in, and I also look at summer work experience and work on personal projects. I knew of Physics majors in my undergrad who did as many projects on the side as I did, and were very good at electronics. They also tended to be good at E&M, which is applicable to many EE jobs. Programming background is almost always useful as well, even for hardware-specific EE jobs.

You'd need to look at the full job postings of some representative employers online to see what kind of things they expect in their entry-level candidates. Can you post a few example positions that you've been looking at?
 
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  • #3
symbolipoint
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and I also look at summer work experience and work on personal projects. I knew of Physics majors in my undergrad who did as many projects on the side as I did, and were very good at electronics. They also tended to be good at E&M, which is applicable to many EE jobs. Programming background is almost always useful as well, even for
berkeman,
How do or did you view candidates who worked on personal programming projects which were not used directly in his either academic work nor employed work? Would this have any impact on your assessment if the program were not shared as published? But I would guess that you would prefer such program were shared among people OR published in some reachable article, website, or something.
 
  • #4
symbolipoint
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Programming background is almost always useful as well, even for hardware-specific EE jobs.
You would imagine that if programming were important for a job to be filled, the interviewer could quiz the candidate on his programming ability.
 
  • #5
berkeman
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How do or did you view candidates who worked on personal programming projects which were not used directly in his either academic work nor employed work?
It depends on the type of program, its purpose, and what kind of skills were involved in developing it. For example, if it were for an embedded project that the candidate was doing (maybe programming their own home control system or something), that would be directly applicable to the work we do here at my job. If it was implementing a simplified C compiler to learn more about compilers, that would also be impressive to me (since I worked on that back in undergrad). We only have a few tools developers here currently where compiler-writing experience is directly applicable, but it shows initiative in wanting to learn one of the more complex aspects of programming, which is a good thing IMO.

If the project involved GUI development, I'd like to have a look and test drive it with the candidate, and ask questions about the decisions s/he made in the layout and hierarchy. If it's obvious that they put a lot of thought and effort into it, that also would go a long way toward showing me what kind of a programming team member they could be.

And if they happen to have used some source control system already (I think Bitbucket licenses for individuals are free...), that goes a very long way in showing us that they are serious about wanting to develop quality code as a member of a programming group...

https://www.atlassian.com/licensing/bitbucket-server#cloudlicensing-1
242468
 
  • #6
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I'd be inclined to look hard at what aspect of physics seemed to be of greatest interest to the candidate. If it was very esoteric stuff, I'd probably turn away, but if it was classical material, I might be interested.
 
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