Join Professional Societies
There are numerous reasons for scientists of all career stripes to join and engage in professional societies (not that we are biased!). Professional societies are the gateway to many enabling information sources and career development activities: networking, collaboration, funding announcements, travel grants, journal publications, etc. Many professional societies provide venues – both real (meetings) and virtual (webspace) – through which scientists spanning decades of experience can interact. Furthermore, many societies offer students reduced registration rates and opportunities for travel reimbursement to major meetings.
Becoming active in society governance is an excellent mode for career development and can be personally rewarding in its own right. Experience gained in society leadership can help one navigate the leadership landscape at one's home institution, can make a positive impact on the scientific community, and provide a broader perspective on the issues facing one's discipline of choice.
Below is a list of a number of the scientific professional societies which have physicists as members:
- American Physical Society (APS)
- American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS)
- American Association of Physics Teachers (AAPT)
- American Astronomical Society (AAS)
- Institute of Electrical and Electronic Engineers (IEEE)
- Materials Research Society (MRS)
- Optical Society of America (OSA)
Utilize Social Networking Venues
The most common method for finding new jobs is through personal connections, so building your network is a very important step. Connect with other scientists through sites such as LinkedIn.
Take Advantage of Networking Opportunities at Meetings
Most professional organizations include networking opportunities (receptions, panels, etc.) at their meetings. Attend these events, and talk to as many people as you can. Be able to describe to them what you do, and what you want to accomplish. You may be surprised by how many helpful connections you obtain in this way.
Talk to everyone--everyone!--about what you do.
We all interact with people every day outside of a professional context. But what many people don't realize is that each of those individuals may have connections who could help you achieve your career goals. For example, your hairdresser--who is in contact with lots of people from different walks of life daily--could know people looking for hires in your area. So make a point of speaking to as many people as you can about what you do and what you'd like to accomplish. Recognize the potential for opportunity in every person you meet.