Careers Using Physics  

Careers Using Physics (CUP)
Home | Careers Toolbox | SPS Jobs Site | Advice | Profiles | Resources | Preparing to Teach
Follow SPS on: Twitter Facebook YouTube Photobucket The Nucleus Email and Share

People are using physics in their jobs in many unique and exciting ways today—ways you might not even imagine! An asset manager? A video game designer? A fashion technologist? A fighter pilot? All with physics educations! Read, listen, and watch video clips about some of these people and the many different career paths that are possible with a degree in physics. Go to physicist profiles...

Tips for Networking

Network Everywhere

poster session

Whether you are at a STEM fair, physics meeting, department colloquium, or a science outreach event, always look for new people to meet. Every event is a potential networking event. You never know when or where you are going to encounter your next boss. Do not be afraid to tell people that you are looking for a job, most people are eager to help students if they can.




Help Others

poster sessionNetworking is about connecting with people—not just furthering your career. When you meet someone, think about what you can offer them. Do you know someone that does complimentary research who your new connection might like to meet? If your new connection is the only one from his or her institution at a meeting, might he or she like to join your group for dinner? This approach makes networking much less intimidating and can help you form meaningful and lasting connections.

Attend Meetings

meetingsGo to SPS Zone Meetings and meetings of professional societies like the American Physical Society or the American Astronomical Society whenever you have a chance. These are great places for meeting people, especially at the poster sessions and receptions. Consider volunteering as a way to meet people (sometimes you can even get a discount on the registration fees). Attend a meeting as an SPS Reporter and you will get a press pass in addition to earning money for travel, which is a great excuse to introduce yourself to notable scientists.

Introduce Yourself

elevator speechTry and have an elevator speech - a 30-second introduction to yourself (about the time you’d have to introduce yourself if you were in an elevator with someone you’d like to meet). In it, you should mention where you come from, who you are, what you are doing, and where you hope to go in the future. Include something that will catch and engage the other person’s attention, such as how you became interested in physics or your current research project. Once you have your speech outlined, use it!

Ask Questions

ask questionsOne of the simplest ways to start a conversation is by asking “So, what do you do?” After this, the conversation will go fluently if you show interest in what the person is telling you. Other interesting questions you might ask new connections are:

  • How has your physics background helped you in your career?
  • What advice would you give a physics major who wants to go into your field?
  • What opportunities does your company have for physics students?
  • Listen carefully, make appropriate comments, and ask intriguing questions. People like talking about themselves, so let them do the talking and wait for the opportunity to talk about you.

    Make Connections

    positivityIf you would like to maintain a new connection, don’t be afraid to ask someone if you can follow up later by email or phone. Business cards are an easy way to give a new connection your contact information, leave a good impression, and they make you look professional even if they only say “Physics Student”. When you receive a card from someone else, write a brief description of how you met the person and what you discussed on the back. For example: APS March 2012, energy researcher at Argonne. Email about summer research opportunities.

    Network Online


    After networking at an event, stay in contact with your new connections through online networking sites such as LinkedIn or Facebook. Use key word searches on LinkedIn to find people with your dream job or company and ask your connections to introduce you. Ask your professors or career services office if they can connect with alumni in your desired profession via email, if they are not working locally.


    Stay Positive


    Go into a networking event with a positive outlook and be confident in your abilities to have a meaningful conversation. Enjoy the opportunity to talk to new people; you never know when you’ll meet someone that can connect you to your next job. Have a good sense of humor, as well as an enthusiastic attitude. Get out there and have fun, meet people, and make new connections!



    • Career Profiles from Physics Today -American Institute of Physics
    • Starting Salaries for Physics Bachelors -American Institute of Physics
    • Professional Science Master's Is 21st Century MBA -Science News
    • College Majors, Unemployment, and Earnings (2013) -Georgetown University
    Featured Profile
    Elna M. Nagasako, Physician, Boston, MA
    Kate M. McAlpineI am a general internal medicine physician working on ways to improve health outcomes for vulnerable populations such as patients from disadvantaged communities. It’s not the most common career path for someone with a physics background, but I use the skills I gained from my physics training every day. See full profile...

    More Profiles | By Highest Degree | By Job Sector | Hidden Physicists

    Astronomy Cast Episode 67: Building a Career in Astronomy
    Hosted by Fraser Cain (Universe Today) and Dr. Pamela L. Gay (SIUE)
    With all the enthusiasm that’s being generated with astronomy, it’s had a bit of a strange side-effect. We’ve been causing some of our listeners to have midlife crises about their careers. We’ve had other people who just want advice – they’re moving into college for the first time and they want to direct the courses they’re going to be taking into astronomy. Some other people already have skills that are very useful and have wondered how they can help up or even change their career to be working in the field. We thought we’d try and answer everyone’s questions all at once and just run through the major career paths you can take that relate to astronomy and space, and the kinds of things you’ll need to do to actually make yourself a good candidate for that field. Broadcast & Transcript...

    FOCUS on Students: Writing a Résumé
    By Robert W. Vallin
    A résumé is a listing of your education, skills, activities and achievements. It should be a concise history (two pages, maximum) which shows why you are qualified for a particular job. Note that a curriculum vitae (CV) is not the same as a résumé.
    Read the full article from FOCUS magazine...

    FOCUS is published by the Mathematical Association of America.

    Other Sweet Stuff
    Watch the CUP movie about an alien,
    a physics degree, and a life lesson

    Requires Flash
    Get Flash Player
    CUP sponsors: Alfred P. Sloan Foundation, American Institute of Physics, Sloan Career Cornerstone Center.
    SPS Jobs

    Search jobs
    Post Jobs
    Post Your Resume

    Bachelor's Degree Jobs RSS Feed

       Home  |  Search   |   Site Map  |   Privacy   |   Contact SPS