I’m excited to be starting this 50 Interviews project. I’ll be talking to Scientists who have successfully followed a career path into industry, where their job description is perhaps closer to that of an engineer than a scientist. This topic has been an interest of mine since I was nearing the end of grad school and decided to take my Physics education and go get a job in industry. I soon learned it could be a challenge to convince employers that I could be a valuable part of a product design team despite the fact that I was not trained in any specific design skills.
In the 14 years since I graduated I have not only learned how to sell myself in a product development environment, but also discovered that my Physics training has been very useful for certain aspects of a design project.
In this blog I will relay some of the things I have learned from my own career as well as information gathered from interviews with other “Scientists turned Engineers.” Please give me your feedback and any of your own experiences.
I always say I am a physicist masquerading as an engineer.
I’d be interested in hearing your thoughts on careers in government. I did a post doc at China Lake, and have never left.
I like your perspective about masquerading as an engineer. That’s a pretty good description of the work we do outside of academia, but it allows you to retain your identity as a physicist and sell the skill and attributes that are unique to a physicist.
Careers in government are often a unique area, distinct from both academia and industry. I know a number of people who work at the NIST facility here in Boulder, CO. Their jobs are closer to academia than industry, because they receive funding for long term research projects, and are not developing products on tight deadlines for paying customers. This creates a very different environment.
What kind of work do you do for the Navy?