Career Opportunities and Internships
Plan your CareerCareer 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
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
- 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.
- REU Physics
- REU Earth Sciences
- REU Astronomy
- NASA: A wide variety of internships during an academic quarter or during the summer
- American Astronomical Society
- Federal Jobs: Internships within the Federal Government
- LinkedInLinked 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.
- SPS provides several Tips for Networking
- Physics World has a podcast on How to succeed at networking in science
- APS has a Professional Development page dedicated to Networking
- AiP has a Webinar called Networking for Physicists
Career Connections mentoring platform is 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.
Career Services Resources
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
Choosing a Career as a Physics Major
Career Resource Links
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
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.