CareerPlus, Pro and Con
The APS News supplement, CareerPlus, is great. APS needs to become much more proactive on professional concerns, and this is a good start. I have two suggestions. First, you may wish to discuss interview preparation in a future issue. Second, the resume recommendations on page two center on format more than content.
Specifically, I would have included in the resume column the importance of emphasizing the contributions made and skills learned in each position. Too often, resumes look like a series of pro forma job descriptions. Stating why, in terms of career advancement, the applicant moved on to a new position also is a good idea. In the cover letter column, I would have stated strongly that the letter must convey that the applicant knows something about the company, and that he or she has something to contribute. Mentioning the name of a respected employee of the organization who would speak well of the applicant also is useful.
Brooks Air Force Base, Texas
Once again, I find myself compelled to write regarding your careers for physicists literature. Over and over in the APS News and Physics Today you refer to career opportunities for Ph.D.'s. In fact, in the career supplement section of the April APS News, you even go so far as to define a physicist as someone holding a Ph.D. in physics! In addition, back when I was job hunting a few years ago, I subscribed to the AIP Career Placement service. I could not help but notice that every single one of the listings in the monthly newsletter required a Ph.D. Does all this mean to imply that if one only has a lower degree in physics, then (s)he is not really a physicist?
Well, I have news for you. There are many people doing physics without the doctorate. In fact, for the past 15 years I have been doing physics related R&D with a mere master's degree (in applied physics, no less). However, if the APS does not consider me to really be a physicist, then perhaps I should resign my membership.
Galactic Industries Corporation Salem, New Hampshire
The Editor Responds....
Mr. Bleiweiss' point is well taken. The analysis of the employment situation in the CareerPlus section did indeed emphasize the problems currently being experienced by Ph.D. physicists. This is primarily because more data is available and the critical nature of the problem is clearest for this group. Obviously, this leaves a lot of people out of the sample. It is in the nature of a careful statistical analyst to clearly define and limit the subset of the data being presented. Roman Czujko's statistics group is currently collecting and analyzing an extensive set of data from a survey of former Sigma Pi Sigma Members on their employment patterns; these include many non-Ph.D.s and B.S. physics majors who are putting their physics degrees to work in diverse -areas. We plan to follow up CareerPlus periodically to update, augment, and expand the materials presented in the first edition.
The APS is working alongside AIP's Career Services Division to greatly expand position listings to which physicists at all degree levels might apply. This includes those in nontraditional areas. AIP is planning a comprehensive survey of job opportunities for physicists at all levels in the near future. One problem we noted is that employers rarely advertise for B.S. or M.S. level physicists explicitly, so they don't think to post listings with the AIP. Obviously we have lots of work to do in terms of breaking down stereotypical views of what Ph.D. physicists can do by employers and faculty alike.
If there is a central theme in the CareerPlus issue, it is to broaden your horizons and be open to how you can use your physics training, whether it be doing basic or applied physics, developing products, or whatever. This is pretty good advise that, I think, applies at any degree level.
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