APS News

Pilot Programs Seek to Enhance Job Opportunities

Two complementary programs aimed at enhancing future employment opportunities for Ph.D. physicists are being launched this year. Funded by the National Science Foundation and led by Brian Schwartz, senior assistant to the APS executive officer and professor of physics (Brooklyn College), the programs specifically seek to promote changes in and supplements to the graduate physics programs across the country.

The first project is a local pilot program to be implemented at the City University of New York, consisting of three parts: numerous supplementary mini-courses designed to enhance and widen the employment opportunities for Ph.D. students; a regular seminar series open to students and faculty on traditional and non-traditional careers; and a semester long workshop on job and career seeking skills for graduate students in the CUNY Ph.D. program.

The first workshop is being offered this spring semester, and covers topics such as skills assessment, resume writing, interview techniques, networking, the unlisted job markets, and non-traditional careers, especially in the newer technologies, small companies, and the business world. Special guest lecturers have been invited to describe their use of science in their careers and to discuss the employment prospects for Ph.D. scientists in such fields as finance, banking, media technologies, government infrastructure, and management consulting. This fall, a series of certificate style courses (appearing on the students transcript) aimed at Ph.D. candidates will be given in collaboration with the SUNY Baruch School of Business, covering such areas as communication skills, the business and economic aspects of high technology, and computer and multi-media skills.

The second project supported by NSF is a national outreach program involving direct interaction between Schwartz - aided by other physicists and professionals active in career guidance - and the faculty and students at universities in various regions of the nation. The grant has funds to support visits by Schwartz who can be scheduled to give a colloquim on enhancing careers for Ph.D. physicists. During his visit he will work with students and faculty to identify and develop a series of actions and programs to maximize the physics department's use of local resources including university career guidance offices and materials; courses in other departments, such as economics, computer science, and business; and identifying contacts with scientists from local physics-based and physics-related industries. A career seminar series and strategies for supplementing the scope of courses for Ph.D. physics students will also be encouraged.

"The pilot program at CUNY will explore, test, and evaluate the best strategies to enhance and enlarge the employment opportunities for Ph.D. candidates at a specific university, while at the same time a national effort will be undertaken to develop a program to disseminate and implement the most promising career-enhancing strategies to local physics departments, faculty and students," said Schwartz, a former associate executive secretary of the APS, who was also one of the first "establishment" physicists to speak out on issues of employment problems for Ph.D.s.

Further information on the program can be obtained by writing Brian Schwartz, APS, One Physics Ellipse, College Park, MD 20470 or email schwartz@aps.org.


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