Friday, January 18, 2013

Who I am : PhD in Physics

I am Dr. Jeffrey Berger, I graduated from Penn State with a PhD in physics.  I defended in August and have not gotten a paycheck since the summer, which makes this the 8th month I've been unemployed.  I have years of programming experience in different languages and almost a decade of teaching experience.  There are 5 papers out with my name on it, 3 proceedings, and 6 talks.  I was told when I started working towards my degree that there are plenty of jobs for physicist PhDs, "There aren't PhD physicists living in cardboard boxes".  The only reason I am not in a cardboard box is my friends and my credit card, which I have been living off of for over half of a year.

I was signed up to work as a software developer at a start-up  but shortly after I defended they told me that they never got the funding they were supposed to.  They went under without paying me for a day of work and I started applying to jobs in New York City.  I have over 80 applications out currently and not a single call-back or interview from an employer.

Most all of the PhD positions I can apply for require some industry experience already - so I apply for them and I am under-qualified.  Therefore I am forced to apply for jobs which require masters or bachelors degrees.  This puts me in the realm of the overqualified applicant and again no callbacks.  I have spoken with several recruiters and their responses have been varied from telling me I am not competitive in the workforce to simply telling me they have no companies interested in hiring a new PhD.  My favorite was the recruiter who tried to offer me a position at 10% more than my graduate stipend (which was 20k + tuition a year).  

Most of the jobs I have begun applying for are programming jobs, to use the years of C/C++ experience I have.  However, even though I worked as a researcher programming for almost 4 years this experience does not count as work experience.  I cannot get a job at a university without post-doctoral experience and this problem deserves its own post at a point later in time.

I know I'm not the only one who is having trouble finding work, but the people who are having these issues are all of my friends with post graduate degrees.  Just about everyone I know who has only a HS degree, a associates, or a bachelors degree has a job.

I'll give you updates on how my search is going.

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