Post # 1
I need major advice as this worries me a lot. I spend lots of time each day thinking about this and need help.
I am already about 2/3 done with my PhD in physics. Actually, I have completed all courses with good marks, and all I have left to do is finish my research and complete my dissertation. So credit wise, I only have about 2-3 more semesters and research wise probably about the same if not more. Anyhow, although the work is exciting and have no problem doing the work, I don’t see myself working in this field after I graduate. I have other interests in mind, such as working for an organization dealing with enviornmental & health issues, helping solve problems for the well being of the planet.
I cannot yet understand how can I go from having a PhD in physics to doing that. I wouldn’t mind stopping and working while I decide what route to take. I am 29, and I don’t mind spending another 2-3 years of school to get where I want to be. Even DH has decided to go back to school for his second master’s at age 32. I guess the big question is, can I get my degree in physics (PhD) and get employed doing something else outside the field? Is this worthwhile after spending so much energy and time (almost 4 years)? Would it be better to take a break and think everything over? Should I just stop completely and enroll at another program? Any advice? If you have questions, I can answer them. Thanks.
Post # 2
- Wedding: March 2014 - A castle!
candy11: I think you are in a great spot with a physics PhD. Physics is so translational. I would concentrate my efforts looking for a certain technique you can become an expert in that is translational to other fields. Particle Image Velocimetry is something that comes to mind here. I’ve known Physics PhDs to work in PIV and translate that work into the bio field. You can do a lot of cool fluid dynamics work with PIV that can be applied into cardiovascular biomechanics. Or what about something with harmonics and sound? Harmonic frequencies are very important in engineering design. What about optics? You could develop medical grade lasers, assess the efficacy of lasers in medical treatment/diagnostics/or surgeries.
Post # 3
candy11: so one of my girlfriends got a Phd in stochiastic equations (math) and went from academia to finance to analytics to data science to software engineering. All by 32.
Just continue to be curious and diligent and you will have your pick of problems to solve. And solve them.
another friend has a PhD in Geotechnicial engineering and he models possible future outcomes based on data. He wants to move out of engineering and into data science (more money and opportunity) but his wife is against it. I’d say her lack of support and the limiting belief that he has to work in engineering is what’s held him back.
Post # 4
candy11: I’m in a social psych PhD program, and quite a few people in my department end up in closely related/applied fields after they get their degrees. For example, one friend just got her PhD last year, and while she’s currently employed as a visiting professor, she’s been getting involved with lots of interdisciplinary groups that focus on environmental issues (her area of interest). She’s still open to being in academia, but is also really interested in industry jobs, and by making these connections/getting these experiences, she’s in a better place to do that. So, like FutureDrAtkins: mentioned, it’s probably a good idea to figure out a way to relate physics to the field you’re more interested in, and then build connections/experiences. I don’t know anything about physics, so I have no concrete suggestions, but I’m sure you can think of different directions!
Oh, also, seeking out mentors in physics who are open to this route AND mentors in your related fields would be really helpful.
Post # 5
FutureDrAtkins: bitsybee: Magpie86: Thank all for responding. You all make great points, and I can see your persepctive. I have been doing a lot of thinking lately, and I have decided that I would change advisor and project. I think this might just be what I need to gain a new perspective. It was a decision that took months, and I feel really good about my decision. Now, I need to look for a new advisor and start a new project. I hope it all works out at the end, if not there is always plan B plus I have another line of work I am interested just in case this doesn’t work. Thanks!
Post # 6
candy11: I would say yes, and at this point I would definitely finished. Honestly, I think everyone has these kinds (or similar) feelings during their PhD and consider quitting- I know I did! I have a PhD in neuroscience and I now work as a medical writer, mostly doing regulatory writing, none of which is related to neuroscience. I write about all kinds of things that I have no particular expertise in- cancer drugs, weight loss devices, etc. I was hired because I had a PhD, and therefore understood research, statistics, and scientific writing. I think you’d be surprised at how little your field matters if you are going outside of academia.
Post # 7
- Wedding: March 2014 - A castle!
candy11: Good luck! Do you have your own funding source? I’m not sure how your department works, but for me it would not be easy to just “find a new advisor.” My advisor pays for my stipend and funds all my research materials. How would making the switch affect your funding?