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Physics Work Experience for Physics?

  1. May 9, 2010 #1
    Hi, I'm a Year 12 student in the UK looking to do Physics (Theoretical/Astro) at uni in sept' 2011. A lot of the unis i've looked at so far, predominantly Manchester and Imperial, have mentioned on their websites that work experience can give you the edge, especially as it is so hard to find for Physics.

    I would say I need to do work experience as my UCAS score is going to be made up entirely of A Level results, at hopefully around 480, but the average UCAS scores for my top choices are in excess of 500, so I need something to level the playing field with all the musical and DofE award candidates.

    So after all that waffling, my question to you is; what on Earth could I do for Physics work experience? I talked to my teachers last year about it, but the only consequence of the talks was that a nanotechnologist came and had a chat with me for a few hours and presented me with papers and an interesting insight into industry, but this can hardly be classed as work experience, (and I'd prefer not to go into industry), so I'm looking for something maybe more astronomy-based. The other option I have looked into is medical physics-based work experience, e.g. shadowing a mechanic at the radiology department of my local hospital for a week, but I never got round to applying. This post has gone on far too long for a one line question, so i'm just going to stop typing now :)

    Thanks in advance for your help :)
  2. jcsd
  3. May 18, 2010 #2

    I'm a 3rd year physics undergrad in the UK, so i'm a little rusty on applications but not too much. I think you also get a different perspective on what's important and what isn't after you've already been at uni for a few years.

    I don't think it is important to have a vast range of extra curricular activities, like DofE and music and stuff - maybe just enough to write a small paragraph at the end of your personal statement. The most important thing (after exam results) I think is to be able to demonstrate in your personal statement that you're really interested in physics - so reading lots of physics popular science books (at the more technical end preferably) and mentioning some in your personal statement is good. I read through the 1st volume of the Feynman lectures and put that in the personal statement - anything that is a little beyond A level but not too much is good. And maybe if you find a certain bit of physics particularly interesting, have a deeper look into that beyond the A level syllabus and talk about it in your personal statement.

    About your actual question - work experience. I think this would be very good if you can get it, but I wouldn't be too worried if you don't (if you don't, then it would be a good idea to spend the time you would have spent doing work experience, doing some physics based stuff of your own). You might want to check http://www.nuffieldfoundation.org/go/grants/nsb/page_390.html but it might be a bit late for this year. The best bet is probably just to keep asking around, look for companies in your area that do anything vaguely physics based. You might have more luck if you tell them that you don't expect to be paid. One of my friends had some regular work experience at a place called starchaser who make rockets I think. Also, if you have a university nearby, then perhaps you can see if theres anyone there willing to give you a bit of grunt work. I wouldn't expect to do any groundbreaking work though - Faraday started as a bottlewasher for Sir Humphrey Davy. Also, if you have a university nearby they might do some public lectures or have some sort of outreach programs which you might want to look into.
  4. May 20, 2010 #3
    :) I've read volume 1 too, i'm tempted to read volume 2 over the summer... But great, that sounds good.

    With the work experience, I've found placements at the Rutherford-Appleton Lab in Oxfordshire that I'm going to apply for next year (missed out this year by about 3 days). Thanks for the Nuffield link too, my teacher recommended it to me yesterday but as you said, I think i've missed it for this year. Cheers :)
  5. Jun 1, 2010 #4
  6. Jun 2, 2010 #5

    No... I'm looking for work experience before I go to uni.
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