What Can I Do with My Physics Major?
Through a close knit community, strong interpersonal relationships, and dedication to research, Georgetown physics majors work together to understand the mysteries of the universe. If you like science and math and if you like to explore why things are the way they are, you will like physics. Physics students study matter, energy and their interactions with one another. The fundamental ideas of physics underlie all of the basic sciences – astronomy, biology, chemistry and geology – and all of the applied sciences and engineering.
Because physics underlies all basic science and engineering, physics majors have many career choices. A significant percentage continue their education in prestigious graduate and professional schools – studying physics, engineering (especially electrical and computer engineering and computer science), law, medicine, and other fields. Those entering the job market directly after graduation find their knowledge and technical skills, including modeling of physical systems and computer and electronic skills, are strong selling points.
The study of physics allows for the development of analytical and critical thinking skills that permits students to succeed in virtually any profession. Throughout your experience in the program, you will obtain the following skills:
Critical Thinking Skills
- Problem solving
- Quantitative analysis and interpretation
- Mathematical skills and modeling
- Approaching problems from diverse perspectives
- Avoiding simplistic conclusions
- Perceiving patterns and structures
- Reading critically
- Thinking independently
- Seeking and understanding logical sequences
- Systematically analyzing and solving problems
Effective Communication Skills
- Writing effectively
- Reading critically
- Conveying complex information
- Creating logical arguments
- Documentation and publication of results
- Teaching, communication and listening skills
- Working effectively as part of a team
- Gathering information
- Using original sources
- Applying theoretical approaches to problems
- Establishing hypotheses
- Defining problems
- Synthesizing and analyzing information
- Experiment design, testing and validation
- Continually learning new skills and information
You can use the examples above, and experiences from classes or research projects to enhance your resume. Try plugging in some of your experiences or skills gained into this formula: Accomplished (X) as measured by (Y) by doing (Z).
Sample Resume Class 1, Georgetown University, Washington, D.C.
Member of Class, taught by ______
- Engaged with Newtonian mechanics, the Lagrange formulation of classical mechanics, and applications to one- and two-dimensional motion, central forces, collisions, and oscillations in PHYS 251 Intermediate Mechanics.
- Learned mathematical tools, including (insert quantitative skills) to understand biological ideas from a physical perspective in PHYS 235 Dynamical Processes in Biological Physics.
- Developed theoretical problem-solving abilities and gained a conceptual understanding of topics in Electrodynamics and Optics, including Maxwell’s equations, wave propagation and optical properties of materials, geometrical optics, physical optics, and photonics and quantum optics.
Georgetown Alumni have taken their physics degree across multiple different industries and have applied the skills they learned in physics across multiple disciplines.
Additional information about these outcomes can be found in Cawley’s Post Graduation Outcome Report
Helpful Keywords to Improve Searches
There are lots of ways to find good keywords to help your job or internship search process, or even just to learn more about the types of jobs you can do within a specific major. One way to explore this is by checking out the job search tool on Google.
Once you are in, type in something generic like your major and the world internship afterward. Once you hit enter, it will give you lots of options to explore, but if you want to explore titles, possible career paths, or keywords, hover your mouse over the ‘Title’ tab on the top of the page. This will give you a ton of ideas and options to explore possible keywords.
Sample Internship Opportunities
- Applied Physics (e.g., Acoustics, Astrophysics, Atomic/Molecular, Biophysics, Chemical, Computational, Condensed matter, Fluid, Nuclear, Optics, Particles and fields, Polymer, Plasma)
- Basic Research/National Laboratories (e.g., Thomas Jefferson National Accelerator Facility, National Institute of Standards and Technology)
- Government (e.g., Department of Energy, The State Department, NASA)
- Education (e.g., Learning First Alliance, The Johns Hopkins Applied Physics Laboratory)
- Publishing (e.g., National Geographic Magazine, Oxford University Press)
- Non-Governmental Organizations (e.g., the World Bank)
- Technology (e.g., Software Engineering/Blue Reference Inc., Optical Engineering /JDSU)
The Georgetown Physics Department Website is rich with additional information on studying Physics.
Professional Associations are a great place to go to dive deeper into the field of physics and learn more about what post grad life might look like.
- American Institute of Physics
- American Physical Society
- Institute of Physics
- International Union of Pure and Applied Physics
- International Association of Mathematical Physics
Vault is a fantastic resource to learn more about specific career fields in physics. Vault has information such as salary information, work environment, education and training requirements, outlooks, and specific tips for entering into the field.
Professors & Academic Deans
Georgetown professors and faculty members can be a wonderful resource for Georgetown students. If you are still curious to learn more about the disciplines of a specific major, we’d encourage you to connect with your professors! Outside of office hours, Georgetown has an online interface called GU360 where students can explore and connect with faculty members that are eager to mentor and support students. You can use this interface to learn more about specific department research, specialties, and areas of study within a major.
You can also connect with your academic dean or counselor to further discuss opportunities within a given major.
Lastly, each department has a dedicated Director of Undergraduate Studies (DUS). This is the individual in charge of coordinating the major program or department as a whole. You can find the Director of Undergraduate Studies by exploring the faculty and staff pages of individual departments websites.
Connecting with alumni is a fantastic way to explore a day in the life of any given major student. There are several different ways to connect with Georgetown Alums. Hoya Gateway is Georgetown’s premier networking platform which connects alumni and students to have meaningful conversations and build a strong network of support. This is a platform alumni opt into with the sole purpose of supporting current students, which means there is an extremely high response rate.
You can also utilize LinkedIn to connect with Georgetown Alum. A simple alumni search on Georgetown’s LinkedIn profile will help you get connected to approximately 130 thousand alumni, which you can then filter to meet the location, major, industry, or skills that you are interested in exploring.
You can also check out our Post Graduation Outcomes to learn more about what Georgetown alumni in specific majors are up to after graduation. We survey our seniors at the end of each year and into the following year to learn about jobs they secured, service opportunities they committed to, or graduate schools they decided to attend. You can filter by first major to get an idea of what life after Georgetown looks like. You’ll see in many cases that alums are using majors in a wide variety of ways, and your major doesn’t always equal your career path.
Career Center Staff
You can also connect with career center staff to talk through the possible outcomes of one major over another. In short, there are endless opportunities no matter what major you choose. However, connecting with someone might help you navigate your decision making process a little bit easier.
At the career center, you have the opportunity to meet with either a Career Exploration Counselor or an Industry Advisor. Career Exploration Counselors can help you talk through concerns, goals, the big picture, and strategies to move forward. You can think of them as generalists and a great place to get started. Industry Advisors can help you think through specific questions about a given career path and provide specific industry information and trends. You can think of them as specialists for once you start to narrow down your possible path. If you think an appointment with one of these individuals would benefit you, you can make an appointment on Handshake.