Author Topic: need career advice physics degree  (Read 2937 times)

doctor_octopus

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need career advice physics degree
« on: October 01, 2017, 09:30:14 PM »
Greetings Money Mustache Community,

I'm really not sure what to do with my life. Even with scholarships I managed to get myself about 55k in student loan debt (probably 3k in private debt due to separate reasons) with a bachelors in both physics and math, and despite getting a reasonable GPA at a good school and applying to jobs on and off for four years I have found nothing. I'm 27.

At the moment I'm doing an entry-level laborer job that pays my loans and not much else. Probably 30-35k/yr optimistically before taxes. I am unable to afford rent and will probably find a part-time job soon to cover medical expenses. Due to short term forbearances and a brief stint at school I have made a small dent in my student loans.

To top things off somewhat more than a year ago I had a severe months-long manic episode and am being treated for bipolar. I was hospitalized two or three times, lost my job, destroyed a lot of relationships and was basically kicked out of school. I don't even know what I owe in 'outstanding medical bills' but it's probably not trivial.

According to the psychiatrist (my health insurance covers literally nothing) it's not quite bad enough to warrant disability (not that I would want to not work, and I absolutely have to pay off my private loans) but since I can't even find an employer willing to hire me at a salary over 45k/yr it makes the prospect of finding a reasonable and accommodating employer seem impossible. I don't like the possibility of finding a good job only to go full nuclear and have an episode a few months in, or just end up having episodes every year or so for a month at a time and end up completely fucked by debt forever in pursuit of a degree that had the grind and rigor of engineering with the employment outlook of gender studies, for causes that are completely out of my control. I'm not even sure where to find somebody to discuss any legal rights I might have since my psychiatrist has no clue. Should I just lie on job applications forever?
 
I have been learning python and web development sporadically for a few months now and hope to be a junior developer somewhere but honestly four years of just getting ignored by employers is about the most disheartening thing.

JackTheRooster

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Re: need career advice physics degree
« Reply #1 on: October 01, 2017, 09:52:28 PM »
You should probably try to save up 100k and then move to Cuba permanently. With the 4% withdrawal rate, you'll have around $300 a month to play with, which is far more than the Cuban pension of $20 per month. You'll live like a king, and can bide your time.

Either that, or start up a side hustle, that way if you go insane, you can take time off as needed.

Sent from my XT1575 using Tapatalk
« Last Edit: October 01, 2017, 09:56:58 PM by JackTheRooster »

mxt0133

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Re: need career advice physics degree
« Reply #2 on: October 01, 2017, 10:17:58 PM »
Sorry to hear what you are going through.  I have a SIL that went through something similar and it took her a while to get back on her feet.  It took a lot of help from family members and her VA benefits finally kicking in to get her through it.   It took 2 years for them to process her benefits for PTSD and bi-polar disorder.  Without her VA benefits she would be homeless right now.

I would seriously recommend looking into disability benefits until you get better.  I would also look into discharging the student loans, I know that everyone thinks that student loans can't be discharged even in the event of a bankruptcy but they can be discharged if you are disabled*.  Even if you can't get them discharged you might be able to lower the payments and have them forgiven after a certain amount of time if your income is below a certain threshold.

Do you have any family or friends that can help you through this period in your life until you get the medical treatment you need?  I would focus on getting better first and don't be ashamed to ask for help.  From there you can start worrying about the finances.


*https://studentloanhero.com/student-loan-forgiveness/student-loan-disability-discharge/


gerardc

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Re: need career advice physics degree
« Reply #3 on: October 01, 2017, 10:46:23 PM »
Focus on health, work less, spend less, and switch to computer science. With a physics background, it will be easy for you, and look good to employers. Depending on how far you've come, you might want to finish your degree first though. That's what I did, I did bachelor and masters in physics, then PhD computer science. I now make 8 times the amount I would be making in physics/engineering. I'd also recommend nofap (google it) and long walks (2 times 30 minutes each day) for your mental health. Good luck

mozar

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Re: need career advice physics degree
« Reply #4 on: October 02, 2017, 06:31:43 AM »
From what I've heard, both physics and math are the kind of fields that there aren't a lot of opportunity with just bachelor's .  You need to specialize in something and many people do that with a masters. You are a great candidate for computer science. There are online classes you can take through the harvard extension school, and udemy has a 15 dollar Javascript course. There is a online school that works with non profits that you can try. Once you get to algorithms you can start building apps for non profits. Start bidding on upwork so you can see what kind of skills are in demand. Once you get your own clients you can build your own business and you won't have to worry if you need to take off work occasionally.

Askel

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Re: need career advice physics degree
« Reply #5 on: October 02, 2017, 06:40:58 AM »
What's your math background? 

If there's an statistics or linear algebra, study up on machine learning (which is basically just statistics and linear algebra). That and python will make a pretty attractive resume. 

Rimu05

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Re: need career advice physics degree
« Reply #6 on: October 02, 2017, 09:44:51 AM »
Hi,

With the degree you have there would be a multitude of jobs willing to take you. From banking to teaching, you should be able to get jobs easily.

I'd look into banking if that is something that interests you. However, that is also an incredibly broad field and it might do you well to do your research. However, some banks really regard physics/engineering/math majors well.

honeybbq

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Re: need career advice physics degree
« Reply #7 on: October 02, 2017, 10:12:20 AM »
The first thing you need is to get well, either by going on disability or finding the right combination of health contributors (therapy, meds, whatever).

Second, evaluate where to go from here. Actuarial science might be up your alley but you might need more schooling.

doctor_octopus

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Re: need career advice physics degree
« Reply #8 on: October 02, 2017, 07:15:43 PM »
You should probably try to save up 100k and then move to Cuba permanently. With the 4% withdrawal rate, you'll have around $300 a month to play with, which is far more than the Cuban pension of $20 per month. You'll live like a king, and can bide your time.

Either that, or start up a side hustle, that way if you go insane, you can take time off as needed.

Sent from my XT1575 using Tapatalk


Interesting idea. If I had 100k I'd probably just pay it off and take a short vacation. I'll keep that in mind if I have a big windfall and feel like not working. Stranger things have happened.

I've been reading through the forum looking for ideas on side hustles.

Sorry to hear what you are going through.  I have a SIL that went through something similar and it took her a while to get back on her feet.  It took a lot of help from family members and her VA benefits finally kicking in to get her through it.   It took 2 years for them to process her benefits for PTSD and bi-polar disorder.  Without her VA benefits she would be homeless right now.

I would seriously recommend looking into disability benefits until you get better.  I would also look into discharging the student loans, I know that everyone thinks that student loans can't be discharged even in the event of a bankruptcy but they can be discharged if you are disabled*.  Even if you can't get them discharged you might be able to lower the payments and have them forgiven after a certain amount of time if your income is below a certain threshold.

Do you have any family or friends that can help you through this period in your life until you get the medical treatment you need?  I would focus on getting better first and don't be ashamed to ask for help.  From there you can start worrying about the finances.


*https://studentloanhero.com/student-loan-forgiveness/student-loan-disability-discharge/

I'm through the worst of it for now and would rather omit some details, but yeah family is helping me out. I am honestly lucky that I was not arrested.

I got into a clinic about six or seven months ago, meds worked first try and I've been stable on them since. A bit flatter and more Spock-like than old friends remember but the two or three work friends find my stories about manic episodes hard to believe, so that's probably a good sign. Management knows nothing. I've been 100% sober so good things did come of it.
 
re: VA benefits - If it's relevant I have no family who were ever in the military and was never in the military. I don't think I have PTSD. If applying for disability requires a psychiatrist's note I seriously doubt she'd testify anything beyond I have bipolar type I, i.e; it's only disabling in the two to five months after episodes.

Get Out of Debt Guy said (paraphrase) that if you have a cosigner, your problems are not relevant, the cosigner is there to make sure somebody is going to pay the debt off. I'd rather not have my elderly parents have to keep working to pay off debt that's not theirs. Really .. worst case scenario and I actually succeed in getting rid of all my debt public and (somehow) private, I would be stuck with a 60k tax bill plus my year's income, so roughly 100k @ 25% tax rate .. still 25k in debt but to the IRS and not the loan companies. I would probably owe a lawyer at least 5k if not more. Honestly I am not sure which is worse at that point.

The first thing you need is to get well, either by going on disability or finding the right combination of health contributors (therapy, meds, whatever).

Second, evaluate where to go from here. Actuarial science might be up your alley but you might need more schooling.

Yeah the way it looks is keep doing what I'm doing (making minimum payments) and just try to find something that pays more.

Hi,

With the degree you have there would be a multitude of jobs willing to take you. From banking to teaching, you should be able to get jobs easily.

I'd look into banking if that is something that interests you. However, that is also an incredibly broad field and it might do you well to do your research. However, some banks really regard physics/engineering/math majors well.

It is broad, yeah. I'll take a look again I suppose.

I was looking into government jobs and spent four wasted months applying only for them to suddenly reject my application(s) part-way through the process, claiming information in 'pre-employment screening'. They stress you should be 100% honest and so I checked under the 'disabled' and would not be surprised if it was held against me. If anybody on this forum is bipolar and employed, at least sporadically, I guess hit me up via PM and share wisdom if you'd rather not over the forum.







doctor_octopus

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Re: need career advice physics degree
« Reply #9 on: October 02, 2017, 07:20:21 PM »
What's your math background? 

If there's an statistics or linear algebra, study up on machine learning (which is basically just statistics and linear algebra). That and python will make a pretty attractive resume. 

I would have to review statistics and linear algebra but yeah, it was used extensively in my major. Is machine learning a subset of software development? The only 'entry-level' software developers I have found hiring in the somewhat near area would be IBM, and only in March.

From what I've heard, both physics and math are the kind of fields that there aren't a lot of opportunity with just bachelor's .  You need to specialize in something and many people do that with a masters. You are a great candidate for computer science. There are online classes you can take through the harvard extension school, and udemy has a 15 dollar Javascript course. There is a online school that works with non profits that you can try. Once you get to algorithms you can start building apps for non profits. Start bidding on upwork so you can see what kind of skills are in demand. Once you get your own clients you can build your own business and you won't have to worry if you need to take off work occasionally.

I am open to going back for a masters degree. It would be nice to have a physics masters but to be square I have not found many programs out there that terminate at a masters (I don't want to be 40 with a doctorate and 100k+ in the hole). I would probably go for computer science since 1) every "entry-level" or even mid-level physics or math job I have found also accepts computer science degrees and 2) might be less difficult to acquire.

Maenad

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Re: need career advice physics degree
« Reply #10 on: October 03, 2017, 10:39:43 AM »
With Physics and Math, check out the big defense contractors. I've known folks with Bachelor's Degrees in those majors who are making good money there.

MayDay

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Re: need career advice physics degree
« Reply #11 on: October 03, 2017, 07:32:59 PM »
Do you mind sharing publicly what metro area you are in?

Hargrove

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Re: need career advice physics degree
« Reply #12 on: October 03, 2017, 08:17:56 PM »
So switching to coding is pretty easy IF you have aptitude for coding. I hear that if you can code, certs and degrees matter way less to the field than they used to.

https://www.freecodecamp.org/
www.teamtreehouse.com

I am not sure what you mean by legal rights and your psychiatrist not having a clue. The person to see about disability is not a medical professional most of the time (in terms of navigating the system), it's a social worker. Look for your community outreach hubs, social services, etc. and talk to someone there. Your psychiatrist should pretty obviously have already recommended this.

doctor_octopus

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Re: need career advice physics degree
« Reply #13 on: October 04, 2017, 01:39:54 PM »
Do you mind sharing publicly what metro area you are in?

Minnesota, looking to eventually work my way up to Minneapolis.
If I find a job offer in Denver or Kansas area I'd move literally tomorrow, friends and family would let me crash at least a month until I found something.

With Physics and Math, check out the big defense contractors. I've known folks with Bachelor's Degrees in those majors who are making good money there.

I never heard back from Boeing (my GPA is only like ~3.4 with some padding from general ed requirements), I guess I'll check Raytheon.

Try one of these if you haven't already:

https://www.usajobs.gov/GetJob/ViewDetails/479153300
https://www.usajobs.gov/GetJob/ViewDetails/479153900
https://www.usajobs.gov/GetJob/ViewDetails/479155100

Ignore the starting pay range listed as it is actually around $70K/yr starting with a bachelor's degree in Physics or one of the Engineering fields.

PM me if you want to know about the day to day duties, promotions, pay possibilities and work/life balance.

Thanks for PM, I'll apply to these and just see what's up.

milliemchi

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Re: need career advice physics degree
« Reply #14 on: October 05, 2017, 12:24:19 PM »
I was looking into government jobs and spent four wasted months applying only for them to suddenly reject my application(s) part-way through the process, claiming information in 'pre-employment screening'. They stress you should be 100% honest and so I checked under the 'disabled' and would not be surprised if it was held against me. If anybody on this forum is bipolar and employed, at least sporadically, I guess hit me up via PM and share wisdom if you'd rather not over the forum.

I don't know about government applications specifically, but I would not consider myself 'disabled' if I'm not on or actively seeking disability. You also don't have to disclose disability to an employer, unless you are asking for 'reasonable accommodations'. Just having a diagnosis does not make you disabled.

In terms of working while bipolar, I know the statistics are grim, but I know 5+ people with successful careers. I would say that it can be done if you have a support system. Being constantly under financial stress (or work stress) will not help healing. You state that you have a low paying job, and you're looking to move up. I would read that as being successful at where you are and striving to do even better. Since you weren't able to make that work, maybe it's not your time yet, and you should spend some more time healing. It can be surprising to find out how much more capable you are when you are healthy and stable. Healing after an episode takes time, so be patient.

Also, look into getting more support from your family than 'letting me crash for a month'. Not all families are supportive, but some are, and a period of rest and recovery can do wonders. The longer you are stable, the more self-confidence you will have to take on a more demanding job.

I know it is really hard to have a disability and perform at a level that healthy people are expected to perform. It is also unfair, and counterproductive, but this is where we're at as a society. You have my sympathy, and I wish you the best.

AlienRobotAnthropologist

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Re: need career advice physics degree
« Reply #15 on: October 05, 2017, 10:07:12 PM »
Systems engineering, (not to be confused with real engineering) would require no additional schooling or credentials beyond a physics BS. Pays as good as engineering, but you won't get to do anything technical. It can at least get you in the door. Then you can have an employer pay for an MS or otherwise maneuver into something that pays well and is more fun than being a bureaucrat.

Linea_Norway

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Re: need career advice physics degree
« Reply #16 on: October 06, 2017, 05:45:24 AM »
I think companies like Raytheon might be difficult to get in to.
I have some contact with one department at Raytheon and it might not be representative for the whole company. But in the part that I know, there is a very high security and I guess they do a lot of background screening of new employees (they even screen people they have phone meetings with).
If you have high debt, you might not pass that screening and not get a security clearance (because you could be vulnerable for bribes from enemy countries etc).

I wish you good luck. Maybe try some other software company.

wordnerd

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Re: need career advice physics degree
« Reply #17 on: October 06, 2017, 07:36:06 AM »
Re: Disability and government hiring. Having a diagnosed disability can give you a significant advantage in being hired. It's called Schedule A, and it allows almost anyone in the government to hire you whether or not they have an open position. I've seen people try for years to get certified as Schedule A just to get hired. Your issues sound like they may qualify. There's not set list of conditions, although are examples; your doctor has to write a letter (the requirements for the letter are very specific, so check in with the agency you want to be hired with before you get the letter) and then you're certified. More info here: https://www.opm.gov/policy-data-oversight/disability-employment/hiring/

honeyfill

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Re: need career advice physics degree
« Reply #18 on: October 06, 2017, 11:35:02 AM »
Engineering is definitely a possibility. A friend of my daughters just got a job with Intel  in Phoenix with just a BS in Physics.  He has long hair and tattoos and is a bit of a flake. If he can get a job anyone can.

My nephew in the Bay Area got a degree in Industrial Engineering and could not find a job.  He took a twelve week Software boot camp course.  no upfront costs, they only take a percentage of your paycheck to pay it off once you start working.  Within 3 months of completion, he got a job with Google!!

Hang in there!! something will comeup!

MrMoogle

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Re: need career advice physics degree
« Reply #19 on: October 06, 2017, 12:08:50 PM »
For the career part, I would just start applying to engineering positions.  Most will take degrees in physics or math.  Apply for positions that aren't a degree name, like "electrical engineer" would probably be bad.  There's a lot of more niche positions that aren't learned in school.  You just have to be willing to learn on the job.

For example, I'm a *niche* analyst/engineer, and there are a lot of physics and math majors that I work with.  I basically learned everything I know about my niche on the job.  System engineering also tends to have a wide variety of majors.  In fact I know a system engineer who has her degree in English Lit.  There's a lot of planning and organization skills that are used in it (depending on the job) that don't require any math.

I think companies like Raytheon might be difficult to get in to.
I have some contact with one department at Raytheon and it might not be representative for the whole company. But in the part that I know, there is a very high security and I guess they do a lot of background screening of new employees (they even screen people they have phone meetings with).
If you have high debt, you might not pass that screening and not get a security clearance (because you could be vulnerable for bribes from enemy countries etc).

I wish you good luck. Maybe try some other software company.
I would think most of Raytheon's positions require a clearance, which might be difficult to obtain with a history of bipolar.  Other than that, it would be a good fit.  There are a lot of DoD positions that don't require clearances though, assuming you're a US citizen.  As long as it is under control, a history with bipolar might not be an issue either to obtain a clearance.

The biggest hurdle I see is that you graduated 4 years ago, and haven't done any technical work.  You're really going to need an IN to be given a chance.  That requires mostly tapping your network, or developing one.

milliemchi

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Re: need career advice physics degree
« Reply #20 on: October 06, 2017, 01:23:35 PM »
I know second hand that for the government security clearance with bipolar, you need a letter from your doctor stating that you are well controlled, low risk of relapse, and that depressive episodes are easier to clear than manic (where you could go and post the government data on YouTube). Also, if you are hospitalized, you may lose the clearance, as then the stability is in question.