APS News | People and History

APS Industry Mentorship Program Bolsters the Career of an Aspiring Quantum Scientist

Enrique Segura Carrillo knew he wanted a career in industry, but he needed help getting there.

Published Jul 13, 2023
Enrique Segura Carillo in the lab
Enrique Segura Carrillo
Credit: Los Alamos National Laboratory

In 2018, Enrique Segura Carrillo knew he wanted a physics career in industry — but he needed help getting there.

“I needed a mentor who . . . understood how the marketplace works — how to convert research experiences in the labs to a resume that is attractive to industry,” said Segura Carrillo, a graduate student in physics at the University of Colorado, Boulder, who also conducts research at Los Alamos National Laboratory and JILA.

For support, he turned to APS’s Industry Mentoring Program (IMPact). The program, started in 2015, connects students and early-career physicists with industrial physicists. Over three or four months, the industrial physicists advise mentees on resumes, conferences, projects, and more.

The program is the brainchild of Matthew Thompson, vice president of Systems Engineering at Zap Energy, who also previously chaired APS’s Committee on Careers and Professional Development and APS’s Forum on Industrial and Applied Physics.

Matthew Thompson

Through IMPact, Thompson and Segura Carrillo, who wants to become a quantum computer scientist, connected in 2018.

“He gave me feedback about my personal statement, about how to make the most of my time [during a fellowship] at SLAC National Accelerator Laboratory, and how to approach the next steps of heading to a master’s program to prepare for a future PhD application process,” recalled Segura Carrillo.

While working toward his master’s degree, which he earned in 2021, Segura Carrillo obtained real industry experience at The Aerospace Corporation, where he interned in the company’s Physical Sciences Laboratories.

That year, Segura Carrillo connected with John Teufel, group leader at the National Institute of Standards and Technology in Boulder, who helped him apply for his PhD at the University of Colorado, Boulder.

John Teufel

“John took the time to guide me through the process,” Segura Carrillo said. “Once I arrived at CU-Boulder, he made sure that we met at least twice a semester. For my qualifying exam, he helped me build a great technical talk.”

Teufel said he was excited that Segura Carrillo had been accepted into the program and is slated to graduate in 2026.

“His dream was to work in quantum science, and he knew that dream depended on him being accepted to a good PhD program,” said Teufel. “It’s always rewarding to see things work out for those who put their blood, sweat, and tears into making it happen.”

Teufel and Segura Carrillo said their experience has been a good one, and both offered tips for mentor/mentee relationships.

“I would recommend coming in with a clear picture of who your mentor is,” said Segura Carrillo. “I wanted a career in industrial physics, and specifically in quantum information sciences, so I needed my mentor to be somewhere on that spectrum.”

Teufel added that mentorship shouldn’t be one-sided. “In my experience, mentoring is not about one person answering questions for the other,” he said. “Instead, it is a platform where questions can be discussed, and progress can be made together.”

To support APS’s efforts to help students and early-career scientists build rewarding careers, consider donating.

Tawanda W. Johnson

Tawanda Johnson brings her experience in digital communications and strategy as well as her experience covering local and federal government to her work with APS.

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