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(Yet another) need help getting a job with a physics degree thread.

  1. Mar 12, 2014 #1
    I am looking for a job, any job. Fortunately, I will be starting graduate school in the fall. I have already graduated with a BSc however and want to make the best of my time until it starts, saving at least some modest amount that'll cover for the eventual travel and first month(s) of living expenditures.

    I am in the tri-state area, fairly close to NYC, and have been applying for tutoring positions that did not require teaching qualifications, as well as through 1-on-1 tutoring websites but nothing has come up so far(only been advertising myself for a week). It doesn't help that my travel radius for tutoring is pretty limited as I don't have a car. I was interviewed by varsity tutors and think I did well, but I was told there weren't enough students in my area to advance me in the interview process (maybe a polite way of saying you're not that hot of a tutor, I don't know).

    I have also been applying to every retail and sales job in the area I've found, shooting for ones I thought having a BS degree won't automatically be considered as 'overqualified' (ie print sales consultant at an office depot-style place). Have not yet expanded my search to NYC. Considering the lowest of retail positions as well, which I did fresh out of high school, but one thing is holding me back from spending additional hours on online job applications with all the behavioral question torture it incurs.

    Should I be ommiting my BS from my resume for jobs like these to actually get an interview? What should I write to account for the past 4-5 years of my life instead without making stuff up? I would like to avoid having to be dishonest, but I am desperately in need of a source of income and don't have much hopes of making it through traditional company online applications if I am frank about my education.
    Last edited: Mar 12, 2014
  2. jcsd
  3. Mar 12, 2014 #2
    I vote no, do not ommit your degree.

    Are you also considering temp companies, especially ones that supply office personel?
  4. Mar 12, 2014 #3
    I haven't heard of such a thing, what/where should I be looking?
  5. Mar 12, 2014 #4
    I'd suggest a tip industry (bartending, waiting tables). NYC has tons of high end restaurants, and staff turnover is very high, you can almost certainly find a restaurant that will give you a chance. Its exhausting work, but you'll make more in a good weekend then you will in retail or tutoring.
  6. Mar 12, 2014 #5
    I really don't have what it takes for this (I have very severe social anxiety in those kinds of situations), nor the 'presence' for it (got turned down for a job like this once for this reason). This is really the only kind of job I haven't considered seriously, despite the obvious higher pay. Should've mentioned it in the OP, but thanks for the suggestion...

    Locrian would you mind clarifying on temp agencies for office work? Any specific branches in mind?
  7. Mar 12, 2014 #6


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    I wouldn't suggest omitting your education, but there are things you can do to take the focus off of it. First, make sure that it's clear on your resume and cover letter what you're looking for. It sounds like you're aiming for a temporary or seasonal position that will bridge the gap between undergrad and gradaute school so don't be afraid to include this as an objective. Next, if you have it, start with the relevant experience section. Your education can still be included later. And unless it's relevant, you don't need to include too many details about it.

    Temp agencies will hire for more than office work too. In the year between undergrad and gradaute school I worked though a temp agency and ended up in a couple of warehouses. It wasn't great work, but it payed the bills.

    If you want to tutor, another option might simply be offering private sessions. Contact local schools and community colleges and see if they have any official tutor lists that you can get added to.
  8. Mar 12, 2014 #7
    If you are applying for retail/restaurant work then there is no reason at all to put your education on your resume. When I left my degrees off my resume for this kind of work I actually got called in for interviews.
  9. Mar 12, 2014 #8
    And what exactly did you put in your resume to account for your years in college? For me they happen to be quite recent, and I didn't really have much of any kind of employment during those years (worked at a warehouse one summer 3-4 years ago, tutored last summer).

    There is retail experience in my resume, but it dates back 9 years ago. A gap like this is probably not going to help me.
  10. Mar 12, 2014 #9
    Nothing. I put my restaurant experience from before my degree, labeled my work history as "relevant work history" and put that I have some college, ~2 years worth. If asked what I have been doing I would say taking some classes and tutoring, which is a half truth/half lie. I was not asked though.
  11. Mar 13, 2014 #10
    Don't overlook hard-hat blue collar operations work. Refineries, food processing, mills, power generation, and water treatment plants need new operators and technicians all the time. There are entry level jobs to be found that only require graduation from high school, and a valid drivers license. Some may even train you for a CDL. If you listed yourself as someone with a physics degree, you'd be an easy hire.

    Many companies have significant educational support programs. This might be a good way for you to fund your education. It worked for me, and I know others who started at the bottom and ended their careers as company executives --so this doesn't have to be any old dead-end job.

    Do note that in this line of work you may meet some truly odd people. There are lots of misfits who end up in places like this. In my experience, I have found the vast majority of them to be good people, just a bit off center. For example, I used to know a technician, now retired, who really did eat roadkill (no, I am not kidding). In most ways he was truly a nice guy. He was very literate in astronomy and astrophysics. He had a well equipped observatory at home. Yet he was also a very paranoid miser in most ways. Although, looking back at it, his financial decision to invest heavily in gold doesn't seem to have hurt him all that much :-).

    If you don't feel well suited for working directly with the public, this may not be a bad line of work for you. Just keep your eyes open and look out for some really weird and wonderful personalities.
  12. Mar 13, 2014 #11
    I'll keep an eye out for the businesses you mentioned, especially water treatment, as I actually have a pre-university degree (2 years) in chemistry and about 3-month work experience in a water processing plant in my home country (also got the degree validated for US use a few years ago). Could probably get a ref. from the boss if necessary.

    That was about 5.5 years ago however, not sure how much a lab would like someone that's that far removed from doing chemistry lab work. I applied to a position like this last summer here in NJ and never heard back. I'd need a week or so to get up to speed again... Also did a summer of warehouse work, but again not in the states so I'm not sure how much it matters.

    Aside from the roadkill enthusiasm, that sounds interesting. Embarrassingly, I do not yet have a DL (never needed it where I was living for undergrad, and the fees for it were absurdly high), but now that I'm in the US I presume I'll be getting it within a month (I am legally able to work, in case you're wondering).

    Since I'd be getting the 'watered down' license for the first year, would that bar me from a CDL?
    Last edited: Mar 13, 2014
  13. Mar 13, 2014 #12
    Gonna be slow on replies due to work.

    In college I used three different agencies. Check Robert Half and AccountTemps - it's not just accounting work. Other temp agencies will be local, so you'll just have to do a google search for "office staffing agencies" and other combos including "temporary".

    I hated those freaking jobs. I eventually went blue collar temp (manpower I think). You should consider both.
  14. Mar 13, 2014 #13
    As a side note, I bought a $5 book on accounting, read it, and scored well enough at AccountTemps to work some bookkeeping jobs. The job they ended up getting me was not accounting related though.
  15. Mar 13, 2014 #14
    Water plant operations does involve a bit of chemistry, but most of what they do is basic arithmetic and record keeping. It can be very physical work, including climbing, lifting, and working in extreme weather.

    Operators are considered to be tactically essential employees. This means you need to make every effort to get there when you're scheduled. We have even sent dump trucks out in blizzard conditions to pick up essential employees. We make plans for emergency conditions such as sheltering in place on the plant for long periods of time during a pandemic.

    Operators attend training regularly for first aid, CPR, Lock-out/Tag-out regulations, chemical hazards and SCBA suit use, Arc Flash Protection, Confined Space Atmospheres, Defensive Driving, and Climbing Safety (and Recovery). None of this is rocket science, but please pay attention to all of it. I know people who were seriously injured or even killed on the job from issues like these. It only takes one slip-up.

    To answer your other concern, a driving license is essential for this work. But even with a brand new license, as long as you have a clean record, nobody seems to care all that much. A dirty driving record might be an issue, though. On the job, most operators drive company owned full size pickup trucks. If you're a glutton for punishment, you can earn a Commercial Driver's License (CDL). However, do note that if you are ever convicted of a traffic infraction, even in your personal vehicle, many states will focus additional penalties toward CDL licensees. So if you don't need it, don't get one.

    I'm not trying to scare you. This work is quite safe most of the time. We can tolerate a great deal of stupid --and we have to because you never know when someone's fatigue, stress, or distraction will get the better of them. But that said, we do expect people to make every reasonable effort to stay safe.
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