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Crossing the Bridge: Some Career Transition Tips to Current Physics Graduate Students from an Ex

A few weeks ago, I participated in a day long workshop in my Alma mater. The goal of the workshop was to introduce current graduate students from the Department of Physics and Astronomy to the alumni who work for the industry. The Department has taken a recent initiative to explore job prospects for its students outside academia and as the necessary first step brought former students back for a day to discuss the issue of career transition. The students and faculties were eager to develop an overall understanding of jobs in various sectors in the industry. They were also very keen to know about job experience from the alumni.

As a part of my preparation for the workshop I jotted down my thoughts that I wanted to share with the students. Those scribbles eventually transformed into a full-fledged memo which details my views, thoughts, and opinions in details regarding the career transition aspect of Physics graduates. A pdf copy of the memo can be obtained from my GitHub account. In this post I only  provide a high-level summary from that note.

If you are still a student or a recent graduate currently working as a research scientist or as a postdoctoral researcher anywhere in the world and if you are thinking about switching your profession from the academia to the industry I hope that my note will be a useful starting point for you. I don’t claim that I have depicted all possible aspects of career transition for this particular group of people. Therefore, if you find that my observations lack some valuable facts please share those as comments. I will be happy to learn from you.

“Any Physics graduate student who wants to move from the academia to the industry should prepare for three inter-related situations for a successful career transition. I use an allegory to name these situations. These are: finding oneself standing in front of the bridge, then walking on the bridge, and finally sitting on the other side of the bridge. In this memo I provide a list of tips gleaned from my experience that, I personally think, are appropriate for each situation. A unique combination of these observations and their appropriate utilization helped me cross the bridge and got me land in Finance industry as a Data Scientist.

I. Standing in front of the bridge
One: Plan well-ahead.
Two: Identify quantitative skills that you want to market.
Three: Decide which industry you want to join.
Four: Prepare for the industry you want to land in.
Five: Write a well-formatted résumé.
Six: Create a unique professional profile.
Seven: Create a hub to display your badges.
Eight: Be consistent with information flow
Nine: Increase on-line visibility
Ten: Develop soft-skills.
Eleven: Connect with people.

II. Walking on the bridge
One: Study the company.
Two: Research on hiring manager.
Three: Study common interview questions.
Four: Ask well-thought-out questions.
Five: Be enthusiastic during the interview.
Six: Thank the managers.

III. Sitting on the other side of the bridge
One: Welcome the new work-life.
Two: Embrace the new work-style.
Three: Accept the vagueness.
Four: Learn fast.
Five: Prove your worth.
Six: Remain humble.
Seven: Be happy with the reward.”

This post appeared first in LinkedIn on December 4th, 2017.

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