Planning for your career
Don't wait till graduation to think about your future career. Make the most of opportunities at Calvin beyond classes to help you prepare for a job after Calvin.
Get to know your advisor
Your academic advisor has a wealth of knowledge and experience in the field of physics and astronomy. He or she will be your best resource as you choose a career track, select courses, and apply for research and internships. In addition to your assigned advisor, feel free to chat with any professor in the department about careers.
Learn about types of careers
Physics majors typically pursue one of three main career paths: industry, secondary education, or research. Be sure to see our overview of these paths and Calvin-specific advice for each one.
To learn more about physics career options, see these sites:
- Careers for Physicists provides profiles of physicists employed in a variety of jobs and other information.
- This document describes the sub-fields of physics and job opportunities in each.
- The Sloan Career Cornerstone offers much information on careers in physics and other science & technology areas, including forecasts on which fields are growing.
- The AIP Statistics office gives Career Guidance for Students, including information on starting salaries and which companies hire physics majors after college.
- The American Astronomical Society has written the helpful A New Universe to Explore: Careers in Astronomy.
- Frequently asked questions about careers in astronomy and astrophysics can be found here.
- The National Academy of Sciences offers several resources on careers, including Careers in Science and Engineering: A Student Planning Guide to Grad School and Beyond.
Plan your courses wisely
Talk with your advisor about the best type of physics major, and appropriate minor(s), for the career(s) you are interested in. Then select courses carefully. Many courses are offered only once every two years and have multiple pre-requisites, so plan ahead. Check out our sample 4-year course plans, then write a plan of your own. If you are interested in education, your core courses (not just technical courses) also need to be chosen carefully to meet education requirements.
Build your connections
Even while you're an undergraduate student, expanding your network of contacts within your target career field will help you make your way after graduation. Chat with professors outside of class. Contact physics alumni working in your area(s) of interest. Attend seminars and introduce yourself to speakers. Do an internship at a company or a summer of research, and keep in contact with people you meet there. Through these connections, you will develop contacts who can write recommendation letters, refer you to employers, and let you know about openings.
Search job listings
- The American Physical Society is a great resource to learn more about jobs available to physics graduates.
- Search jobs, post your resume and find job fairs at Physics Today.
- The AIP's Career Services "is dedicated to assisting physics educated individuals in their search for jobs", and includes a list of open job opportunities for physicists.
- High school physics teachers: jobs are listed by Christian Schools International, the National Association of Independent Schools and the Southern Teachers Agency. If you did not complete a Calvin secondary ed degree, consider programs like Teach for America, Match Eduction, or the University of Michigan 12-month Master's certification program.
- Astronomy: The American Astronomical Society offers a Job Register for jobs in astronomy and planetary science.
- Industry: A list of companies that hire physicists with bachelors degrees, and a list of companies that hire lots of physicists. MIT Lincoln Laboratory is an example of an employer that recruits physicists with bachelor degrees.
- The federal government offers many jobs in the physical sciences. Usajobs.gov lists jobs at all government agencies that may hire physicists.
- Research & academia: Listings of academic jobs and grad school assistantships from Nature . This site can help you compare graduate school programs GradSchoolShopper.com