Career Opportunities and Internships
Plan your Career. Career Planning is a process. The place to start is with questions that eventually focus your search. What are my interests? What kind of skills do I have? What are my values? What options do I have? What jobs fit my skills? Do I prefer business, non-profit, public sector? What careers and industries use my skillset? By answering these questions, you’ll be able to focus your job search productively. Luckily, you can get professional advice from physics faculty and/or Career Services.
- Career Planning Starts NOW
- Internships and Summer Jobs
- Career Services Resources
- Going to Graduate School?
- Find a Career as a physics major
- Resources for High School Teachers
Career planning starts NOW
Build your skillset as well as a network of professional connections. A large majority of physics jobs are found through networking.
CV Builder (PDF): Take physics electives that strengthen your resume.
Internships and Summer Jobs: Many companies have internships and the people you meet become part of your personal network. Successful internships often lead to full-time offers of employment after graduation. Most internships are posted during Fall and Winter quarters.
- Cal Poly Campare
- Physics Today Jobs board
- American Physical Society Jobs board
- SULI: Summer Internships at the Department of Energy (DOE) National Laboratories
- REU: National Science Foundation (NSF) funds Research Experiences for Undergraduates (REU) at many research universities. These internships prepare you for graduate school.
- NASA: A wide variety of internships during an academic quarter or during the summer
- American Astronomical Society
- Federal Jobs: Internships within the Federal Government
Get a Linked In account. Linked In connects you with over 1000 Cal Poly Physics alumni. Ask alumni for an informational interview. Ask them about their experiences in their job hunt, and the companies that they work for.
Career Connections mentoring platform exclusive to Cal Poly students and alumni. Alumni in the platform have chosen to join specifically to help current students explore their career paths. Activate your free account to connect with alumni to get career-related advice. You can also search alumni using filters such as major, industry and location.
The Career Fairs on campus are a good place to connect with employers.
Go to conferences with job fairs and industry partners. SPIE, APS, AAS, NOAA. The HR representatives at these physics conference are looking for people with a “BS or BA in Physics”. They paid for the booth to connect with YOU!
Career Services has resources that can help you identify your strengths, find job titles that fit your interests, and connect you with alumni. You can also make a personalized appointment to explore jobs and get help editing your resume.
- Assessments (Explore your values, interests, personality, and strengths)
- Explore Majors & Careers
- Career & Life Success Guide
- Make an appointment or come to drop-in
- Event calendar (e.g., Career Fairs, workshops, employer information sessions, etc.)
- Handouts (e.g., Guide to Informational Interviews, Career Fair Prep Worksheet, etc.)
- Job & Internship Search (e.g., MustangJOBS/Handshake, job search tips and tricks, etc.)
- Resources Toolkit
Going to Graduate School
- Planning for Graduate Studies in Physics and related fields: (Grad Studies Planning)
- More(pdf) on grad school (very real).
- Graduate Programs in Physics, Astronomy, and Related Fields: Gradschoolshopper.com has some useful information.
Choosing a Career as a physics major
We suggest checking out the resources below to assist you in clarifying areas that are of greatest interest to you. For example, some of the most common job titles for physics majors include systems engineer, optical engineer, test engineer, systems analyst, process technician, etc. There are very few job titles with the word physicist in them. It takes some work to focus your search productively.
- SPS Careers Toolbox Career planning resources for physics majors. Most common Job titles and descriptions of what they mean.
- AIP career resources The American Institute of Physics (AIP) has many relevant resources.
- Careers 2020 Career development advice and employer profiles provided by the American Physical Society.
Physics Job Boards
- Physics Today Jobs Board Job postings for physicists at all levels.
- AAPT Career Center Physics-related jobs from the American Association of Physics Teachers
- physicsjobs.com Teaching jobs.
General Job Boards
Beware of scams! There is a good resource on the Cal Poly Job and Internship Search page.
Before searching a jobs board, you need know what job titles are relevant to your search. Check out the SPS Careers Toolbox to figure out what kind of job you’re looking for. Professional advice is advised. Ask your research advisor or make an appointment with a Career Counselor at Career Services.