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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.

  • 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. Wednesday 11 October 2023 4:30-6:00 p.m. in 277 Phillips

To sign up for this workshop go to this form.

  • 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. Wednesday 15 November 2023 4:30-6:00 p.m. in 277 Phillips

To sign up for this workshop go to this form.

  • 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. To be offered in Spring 2024, day/time TBA

  • 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. To be offered in Spring 2024, day/time TBA

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 when they are scheduled

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.  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 October 11th: Physics & Astronomy Career Workshop I: What do physicists do, and what should I do? (see above)
  • Tuesday October 17th 2023: Industry Snack & Chat–Get some snacks and chat with employers in a low-pressure environment. This will be an opportunity to connect directly with employers. You can ask any questions and learn more about their company, careers, opportunities, and more! Representatives from the IT/Computer Networking, and Hi-Tech Industries will be present. Register on Handshake
  • November 9th 2023, 12 – 4 p.m.: NC Master’s & Doctoral Career Fair, virtual on the Handshake platform
  • November 15th 2023, 2 – 4 p.m.: American Physical Society (APS) Chapters Career Counseling and Networking Fair with physicists from industry and national labs (virtual) (more info coming).  Made available by the UNC Chapter of APS.
  • November 15th, 4:30 – 6:00 p.m.: Physics & Astronomy Career Workshop II: Making connections:  Informational interviewing and networking (see above)

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.