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Career fairs and other employer events

Career fairs, both in-person and virtual, take place throughout the semester.  Most are hosted by University Career Services.  Some are general, some are specifically for STEM students, and some are specifically for graduate students.  Events sponsored by a particular employer allow you to learn about opportunities there, and to get insight into companies in that technology sector. Even if you are not yet on the job market, these offer great opportunities for networking in anticipation of future job searches as well as a chance to find out what kinds of jobs will be available to you when you graduate.

    • Wednesday August 28th Part-Time Job Fair (University Career Services) [time and location TBA]
    • Wednesday September 11th All Industries Job and Internship Fair (University Career Services) [time and location TBA]
    • Wednesday September 11th (evening) UNC Comp Sci Employer Networking NIght [time and location TBA]
    • Thursday September 12th Tech Fair (University Career Services) [time and location TBA]


Career workshops

These workshops are designed to help undergraduate and graduate students (and postdocs) discover the wide range of careers that a physics degree prepares you for, identify which career paths are of most interest, and learn how to get the job you want.  The first two are aimed at helping identify suitable career paths, and the last two are about applying for jobs.  Though the maximum benefit will be achieved by attending the entire series, the individual workshops stand on their own and can be attended separately.  These workshops will be offered again in the 2024-25 academic year.  Stay tuned for dates and signup information.

  • Workshop I: Career formation:  What do physicists do, and what should I do?

Participants will learn about the kinds of jobs that people with degrees in physics and astronomy typically hold, what starting salaries they can expect, and what kinds of knowledge and skills physics degree-holders in various jobs use.  Participants will begin their “career journal,” in which they will record their goals, interests, and strengths, and their technical and non-technical skills and match them with types of jobs.  They will learn how to find out about physicists in different employment sectors and what they do in their jobs. 

  • Workshop II: Making connections:  Informational interviewing and networking

Participants will learn why and how to conduct informational interviews to find out about different kinds of physics jobs, and how to use the professional networking site LinkedIn to identify targets for interviews.  They will also learn how to engage in other forms of networking to make contacts that could lead to a job opportunity. 

  • Workshop III: Finding a job:  Résumés and cover letters

Participants will learn how to use information from their career journal to construct a skills-based résumé (and how it differs from a CV) and how to tailor it to a specific technical job description.  They will also learn how to write a cover letter to accompany a job application.

  • Workshop IV:  Finding a job:  The interview

Participants will learn about the kinds of questions that are asked at job interviews for technical positions and how to use the STAR method to respond to them.  Behavioral questions, technical challenge questions, and job parameter questions will all be considered, as will video interviews. 

Career panels

In these panels, alumni/ae of the department describe the work they do and answer questions from participants.  Past panels have focused on jobs in manufacturing and data science, and recordings can be viewed here.  Other potential areas for future panels include the following:

  • Academia
  • Biomedical
  • Consulting
  • Finance
  • Defense
  • Engineering
  • IT
  • K-12
  • Military
  • Software

Physics degree-holders (including UNC graduates) can be found in all of these employment areas.  To indicate which you are most interested in for future panels, fill in this form.

Dates and topics of panels will be posted here when they are scheduled

Mock interviews

University Career Services (UCS) runs a mock interview program in which students are interviewed by recruiters from industry.  The questions asked during the mock interview are typical of those asked in a real interview.  The recruiters give feedback after the mock interview to help students improve their performance.

One P&A grad student who participated had this to say about the experience:

“I’m really happy I went through the process! I think it was a really good experience and gave me a few important reminders about some of the things we worked on in the Career Workshop in Spring 2022. The interviewer said I did a good job of using the STAR method to answer the interview questions and suggested that before any interview I write down 3-5 accomplishments that I’m most proud of and outline them with the STAR method. I thought this was a great tip! … While it wasn’t necessarily a technical interview, I definitely benefited from it – and potentially gained a new connection with my interviewer to add to my network, too.”

If you would like to participate in a mock interview, indicate your interest in this form.  UCS will be in touch to schedule the interview.

Jobseekers’ listserve

From time to time we receive notices of job openings suitable for people with physics degrees.  These are posted to the “jobseekers’ listserv.”  The list is closed (only Prof. McNeil can post to it), so it generates no spam.  Postings occur every few weeks, so it won’t fill your inbox.  If you would like to join the list, add your name to this Google sheet.  You can remove yourself from the list at any time by contacting Prof. McNeil.