What can I do with this major?

Christie McCowen

What can I do with this degree?
PHYSICS
Why did the chicken cross the road?
I think the better question is if the chicken really crossed the road, or did the road move beneath the chicken?
A new term — a new opportunity to load up on classes that will (hopefully) satisfy some sort of Major/Minor/GER requirement or is interesting enough to risk loosing GPA points. I find it frustrating, however, that it is usually the case that the classes I find interesting and want to take that also fulfill requirements overlap with the classes that I have to take (or fall behind a term).
I have never had a keen interest in physics; however, I do have the deepest respect for those willing to attempt such a thing. I have even more respect for those who manage to graduate with a degree in physics or any combination therein. Having never considered a path through physics, I have never stopped to consider what paths lie beyond the degree. So, if anyone else is wondering — or considering this very path — below is some just some of the information available to you.
And, remember! Career Center staff are available to assist students with a variety of needs including: self-assessment and career/major exploration, graduate/professional school information, job search strategies, internship information and support, preparation of cover letters and re****accent e ***sume*accent e***s, mock interviews and contacting alumni about career networking opportunities.
Students are also strongly encouraged to attend an Internship Information Hour Tuesdays at 10 a.m. or Thursdays at 3 p.m. in the Career Center to learn more about all internships, including those listed on the internship database on the Career Center Web page.
ASTRONOMY
Areas:
Teaching
Research
Writing
Employers:
Colleges and universities
Observatories
Planetariums
Science museums
Nonprofit foundations
Industry e.g., aerospace, scientific supply, mass media
Federal government: National Aeronautics and Space Administration, Smithsonian Astrophysical Observatory, U.S. Naval Observatory, U.S. Naval Research Laboratory
Strategies:
Acquire excellent verbal and written communication skills. Get involved in a research project. Develop a specialty area of expertise and experience.ACOUSTICAL PHYSICS
Areas:
Basic and Applied Research
Development
Teaching
Consulting
Administration
Testing
Employers:
Colleges and universities
Government laboratories
Nonprofit research centers
Industry e.g., electronics, building design, medical instrumentation, communications, engineering, noise pollution, sound recording, film production
Strategies:
Supplement program with courses in psychology, physiology, communications, political science, and sociology. Obtain a graduate degree in physics for opportunities in industry. Maintain an interest in music, the arts and humanities.

ASTROPHYSICS
Areas:
Teaching
Consulting
Administration
Research
Design
Astronautics
Employers:
Government laboratories
Research centers
Airports
Colleges and universities
Commercial industry
Space industry
National Aeronautics and Space Administration
Observatories
Planetariums
Military
Strategies:
Obtain experience through part-time or voluntary position in a planetarium, observatory or science museum. Complete an internship with a research organization or related industry. Participate in research with scholars in the field.
Contact the American Astronomical Society for more information.

BIOPHYSICS
Areas:
Basic and Applied Research
Development
Teaching
Consulting
Administration
Employers:
Colleges and universities
Government laboratories
Nonprofit research centers
Industry e.g., biotechnology, environment, pharmaceuticals
Hospitals
Strategies:
Acquire information about state licensure required for various types of technicians working in medical settings. Gain experience as a laboratory assistant or hospital orderly. Volunteer at a hospital or clinic.

FLUID AND PLASMA PHYSICS
Areas:
Basic and Applied Research
Development
Teaching
Consulting
Administration
Employers:
Colleges and universities
Government laboratories
Government agencies
Nonprofit research centers
Industry e.g., automobile, jet engine, space vehicle design, controlled fusion device design
Strategies
Obtain a graduate degree (master’s or doctorate) for opportunities in industry or research.

GEOPHYSICS
Areas:
Basic and Applied Research
Development
Teaching
Consulting
Administration
Exploration
Employers:
Colleges and universities
Nonprofit research centers
Federal government e.g., Coast and Geological Survey, U.S. Geological Survey, Army Map Service, Naval Oceanographic Office
Industry e.g., petroleum, mining, exploration
Consulting firms
Strategies:
Specialize in geophysics or minor in geology. Develop good background in mathematics, chemistry, engineering, and physics. Maintain good physical condition.

MEDICAL PHYSICS
Areas:
Basic and Applied Research
Development
Teaching
Consulting
Administration
Employers:
Colleges and universities
Medical schools
Hospitals
Industry e.g., medical instrumentation
Government laboratories
Nonprofit research centers
Government agencies
Strategies:
Gain experience working in a hospital. Develop a research specialty in a medical or health related area.

NUCLEAR PHYSICS
Areas:
Basic and Applied Research
Development
Teaching
Consulting
Administration
Law
Quality Control
Operations and Maintenance
Employers:
Colleges and universities
Military
Industry e.g., nuclear weapons, nuclear accelerators, nuclear reactors, nuclear instrumentation, radioisotope products
Government laboratories and research centers
Government agencies e.g., Department of Defense, Department of Energy
Strategies:
A master’s degree is preferred for positions in industry. Develop excellent laboratory skills. Acquire a strong mathematics and chemistry background.

OPTICAL PHYSICS
Areas:
Basic and Applied Research
Development
Teaching
Consulting
Administration
Employers:
Colleges and universities
Government laboratories
Nonprofit research centers
Industry e.g., medical scanners, eyeglasses, binoculars, microscopes, lasers, holography, display technologies, x-ray, ultraviolet spectra, fiber optics
Federal agencies e.g., NASA, Department of Energy, Department of Defense
Strategies:
Obtain a master’s degree for positions in industry. Supplement program with courses in electricity, magnetism, quantum mechanics, and electronics.
Get involved in an independent optics project during senior year.

SCIENCE EDUCATION
Areas:
Teaching
Computer Software Development
Educational Research
Writing and Editing
Library and Information Sciences
Employers:
Public school systems, K-12
Private schools, K-12
Publishing companies: books, magazines, videos
Software developers
Libraries
Strategies:
Gain experience working with young people through volunteering and tutoring.
Work with after school programs and summer camps. Acquire appropriate state teacher certification for K-12 teaching opportunities. Visit schools and observe classrooms. Create a portfolio of science experiments and activities. Become skilled in the use of computers. Earn a graduate degree in information science.

TECHNICAL
Areas:
Engineering (Process and Testing)
Quality Control
Industrial Hygiene
Design Development
Technical Writing
Computer Technology
Research
Employers:
Research and development firms
Mining and petroleum companies
Hospitals
Engineering firms
Professional and technical journals
Government laboratories
Manufacturing and processing firms
Atomic and nuclear labs
Government agencies e.g., Department of Commerce, Department of Defense
Television and radio stations
Weather bureaus
Strategies:
Gain experience through internships or co-ops. Complete applicable certification or licensure through professional organizations. Gain knowledge about the field through informational interviews with professionals. Develop work habits that are systematic, precise, and patient. Develop a strong computer background. Gain experience using scientific instruments and equipment. Pursue a graduate degree in engineering.

GENERAL INFORMATION
A bachelor’s degree will qualify for positions as research assistants, high-level technicians, or computer specialists, as well as nontechnical work in publishing or sales.
Be aware that expertise and experience in a specialty area are usually required for employment opportunities directly related to physics.
A graduate degree and post-graduate experience will allow for more responsibility and advancement in the field of physics.
Visit government laboratories or research centers. Talk with a physicist about his/her profession and career path.
Join relevant professional associations. Attend their meetings and read their publications.
Gain experience with tools, electronics, and machinery.

INTERNSHIP OPPORTUNITIES
Name: NASA-Spaceflight & Life Sciences Training
Location: Tuskegee, AL
Categories: Science/Health/Medical, Research
Majors: Physics, Mathematics, Computer Science
Description: Participants are assigned to one of three Emphasis Groups while at the Kennedy Space Center. Working within the Emphasis Groups, participants gain new learning through engaging in experiential research opportunities. A typical day in Spaceflight & Life Sciences Training is comprised of experiential research and lectures on topics related to spaceflight and research with tours occurring at scheduled intervals.

Name: Smithsonian Astrophysical Observatory
Location: Cambridge, MA
Categories: Science/Health/Medical, Research, Education
Majors: Physics, Computer Science, Mathematics
Description: The Smithsonian Astrophysical Observatory (SAO) Summer Intern Program is a nine to ten week program, depending on the availability of Harvard University housing. The program is funded by the National Science Foundation and the Smithsonian Institution. Undergraduate students interested in a career in astronomy, astrophysics, physics, or related physical sciences are encouraged to apply.

Name: Intel
Categories: Computer Science/MIS, Science/Health/Medical
Majors: Chemistry, Computer Science, Mathematics, Physics
Description: Intel offers many internship opportunities in California, Oregon, Washington, Arizona, New Mexico, Texas and Massachusetts. During a flexible 3-12 month program, interns become an important part of a global, multidisciplinary team working on important technology that’s changing the way people live, work and play. These are paid opportunities.

Name: Center for Great Lakes Studies, The
Location: Milwaukee, WI
Categories: Environmental, Research, Science/Health/Medical
Majors: Biology, Chemistry, Mathematics, Physics
Description: The Center for Great Lakes Studies of the University of Wisconsin – Milwaukee and the National Science Foundation Division of Ocean Studies offer career development and experience in Marine and Freshwater Sciences through a Research Experience for Undergraduates (REU) Site program. The program will consist of a work-experience program in the laboratory and in the field, under the supervision of a research director. In consultation with the research director, students will prepare a written research plan, conduct the proposed work, prepare a project summary and give an oral presentation of the results at the close of the session. Team Investigations will join students and faculty from several disciplines working on a major research project.

Name: Gusmer Enterprises, Inc.
Location: Waupaca, WI
Categories: Research, Science/Health/Medical
Majors: Chemistry, Physics
Description: Part-time internship position to support the Research and Development group with key filtration initiatives and engineering projects. This paid position offers the opportunity to gain experience and technical training in an industrial setting. Intern will assist with performance testing of filters, conduct engineering work, provide technical support on key product development projects, assist in the operation of R&D scale production equipment, and write reports on key project results.

Name: Lockheed Martin Simulation Training and Support
Location: Orlando, FL
Categories: Business-General, Computer Science/MIS
Majors: Computer Science, Mathematics, Physics
Description: Intern will perform software upgrades to the program Peer Review Tool, assist in the development of an informational database to collect information on COTS products used by the JSF ALIS program, document collection mechanisms for the metrics used to quantitatively manage the JSF ALIS program, and perform software configuration changes to the Track Plus action item tool used to collect action item data for the program.

Name: Appleton
Location: Appleton, WI
Categories: Research, Science/Health/Medical
Majors: Biology, Chemistry, Physics
Description: The Research and Development intern at Appleton (formerly Appleton Papers), will work on specific product development projects under the direction of and in conjunction with the scientists doing development. Duties include testing of experimental products, lab experiments such as evaluation of coatings, films, and other raw materials, assisting scientists on pilot or production equipment during experimental trials, and writing summary reports of activities and findings. This is a paid internship position and candidates must be entering their junior year of college.

Name: National Institute for Technology and Liberal Education
Location: Georgetown, TX
Categories: Computer Science/MIS
Majors: Computer Science, Mathematics, Physics
Description: Internship in software engineering. Southwestern University in Georgetown, TX for a nine-week program. Will study the principles of software engineering and practice those principles by working in teams on real world projects for the consortium. Internship provides room, board, and a $2500 stipend.

Name: National Nanotechnology Infrastructure Network
Location: Ithaca, NY
Categories: Research
Majors: Biology, Chemistry, Physics
Description: Interns will undertake a hands-on nanofabrication research project with applications to bio-engineering, chemistry, electronics, materials science, optics, optoelectronics, and physics. Projects are designed using the unique resources offered at each award site and are supervised by faculty, graduate students and technical staff.

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