Department of Physics

Employability and careers

Learn more about what’s on offer to help you become 'work-ready' after your physics degree.

Kay Pearson, SEPnet Employer Engagement Lead for Physics, works on a range of opportunities for students and employers to connect throughout the academic year. These range from employer talks in the department, work experience placements (summer and year-long) to mentoring by employers and CV/interview support for job applications (business/industry and academic).

Placements

One year placements

Kay works alongside Prof Joe Keddie and Dr Paul Stevenson to source longer placements (Professional Training & MPhys Research Placements) and support students with 1 to 1 sessions on CV writing and interview preparation. Professional Training placements are listed on the Jobs Vacancy Database – login required. You also need to be proactive in your placement search, by setting up email alerts with key websites such as:

  • Gradcracker – STEM specific placements
  • RateMyPlacement – internships (1-4 months) and placements (5 months +) in all sectors and ability to tailor search
  • Prospects – search under ‘work experience’, covers all sectors
  • Linked In – click on ‘Jobs’ tab and use ‘placement’ in search facility 

Summer placements

The links  above can also be used to source summer placements of between 4 and 12 weeks. Summer placements are a great chance to gain some work experience mid-degree, whether or not you intend to go on a longer placement in your third year. SEPnet runs a tailored scheme for Physics undergraduates each year, with applications open in March for starts dates from end-June. Kay will email 1st and 2nd years directly with details of when the scheme opens but for general ifno, please visit the SEPnet website.   

Employer talks

Each semester, there is a programme of employer talks held in the department at lunch-time, usually on a Tuesday or Wednesday. Talks are advertised by email, on the Phys Soc Facebook page and by flyers displayed around the department. Recent speakers include: Framestore (digital media/special effects), Ultra Electronics (nuclear radiation detectors), Culham Centre for Fusion Energy and NPL (National Physical Laboratory). For details of current events and how to book, please go the Events page for the department.

Site visits/fairs

Open days at research institutes and labs are promoted to students via the Events page, email and the Phys Soc Facebook page. Kay also promotes specialist careers fairs in areas such as technology and aerospace/aviation and organises visits to part of the Medical Physics department at the Royal Surrey County Hospital. Students who attend can get reasonable travel costs reimbursed by contacting Kay.

Mentoring

A mentor is a person who acts as guide/advisor to someone else, typically where the mentee is less experienced. Employer mentors can offer support and guidance with things like:

  • Gaining an insight into a particular area of work
  • Thinking about whether to stay in academia after your degree/PhD or move into commerce/industry/business
  • Developing your professional network
  • Learning about an organisation/company and its culture.

In 2015 we launched a PGR employer mentoring programme to help PhD students find out about career options for doctorates in business and industry earlier in their PhD and to better manage the transition from academic research to work outside University. Mentors came from a variety of different employer types/sectors/sizes, such as NPL, AWE, Oxford Instruments and SME, Fourth State Medicine. Mentoring can be undertaken in a one-off session or over several sessions during the academic year. We can also find mentors for undergraduates interested in exploring different career areas. If you would like to be matched with a mentor, please contact Kay.