Careers and Professional Skills Development
As well as providing an education in Physics, we place importance on being able to help you with your career choices. Many employers are looking for the types of analytic skills that physicists offer. Nevertheless companies seek graduates who are employable: those who possess an excellent scientific background, professional skills and personal transferable skills. Successful candidates demonstrate their employability through the possession of excellent written and verbal communication skills, they have an awareness of the functions of business and they can work as part of a team, manage and organise their time, can take positions of responsibility and lead others.
The department has good links with many companies. Each year we hold a Physics Department Recruitment Event where you can meet many companies and discuss internships and job opportunities.
Skills Development During Your Degree
The degree course in Physics provides many opportunities for skills development. Professional skills are incorporated into the many and varied elements of the degree course and acquired alongside and during the study of Physics. As well as this we have designed a 4 year integrated package of professional skills courses. These exercises teach many different aspects of the skills you will need for your future career including: scientific/technical writing whilst providing training in proper referencing, searching the technical literature, critical thinking and review and the avoidance of plagiarism. Team work is developed through group projects (years 1, 3 and 4) and students also have the opportunity to give presentations (years 1, 3 and 4). An introduction to the idea of developing intellectual property and the commercialisation of innovative science and technology ideas (year 3 and 4), scientific research funding (year 4) and writing a research proposal. Students will also be invited to attend Research Frontiers talks (term 1 and 2) and Industry Frontiers talks (term 2) to learn more about how physics plays a role in research and the commercial world.
Volunteer work, outreach, clubs and societies also provide opportunities for students to gain valuable experience whilst helping others while the College’s Horizons programme gives students the chance to broaden their skills with courses in business and professional skills or languages.
The undergraduate summer research opportunities schemes also serve to increase students skill base.
Summer Vacation Placements
The Leyden/ESA Astrophysics Program for Summer Students (LEAPS) provides opportunities for students with an interest in Astrophysics to do a 10- to 12-week research project in collaboration with a scientist from Leyden Observatory or ESA.
CERN Summer Student Program offers undergraduate students of physics, computing and engineering a unique opportunity to join in the day-to-day work of research teams participating in experiments at CERN in Geneva, Switzerland.
DESY Summer Student Programme: Each summer DESY, one of the world's leading accelerator centres, in Germany, offers undergraduate students in physics or related natural science disciplines the possibility to participate in the research activities of the laboratory.
DAAD Research internships in Science and Engineering: A programme of internships giving Physics students and other students the chance to spend a summer working with PhD students in a German university or research centre on a real research project.
Institute of Physics (IoP) work placement scheme for penultimate year students, studying in the UK or Ireland, offering the opportunity to find a summer work placement funded by the IoP.
Diamond Light Source summer projects: Diamond Light Source is the UK's national synchrotron facility, located in Oxfordshire. Each year Diamond gives 10-15 undergraduate students the opportunity to work on a beamline during the summer period.
NERC run a number of different placements, which vary from year to year. The link is here: http://www.nerc.ac.uk/funding/available/postgrad/advanced/experience/
STSI Space Astronomy Summer Program, Baltimore, USA.
Ogden Centre Trust Teach Physics Internship offers 36 internships to Physics undergraduates currently in their second year or above, who are considering a career in teaching. The internship is for a period of 4-5 weeks at the end of the summer term.
Biophysical Sciences Institute Summer Bursaries at Durham University offers undergraduate students in their penultimate year of study funding for 4-8 weeks of biophysical research over the summer vacation.
Oxford Instruments - https://nanoscience.oxinst.com/featured/learning-programmes
National Physical Laboratory - https://www.npl.co.uk/careers/industrial-placements
Additional physics related placements in the engineering and science sectors can be found at https://www.gradcracker.com/search/sciences-maths/physics-work-placements-internships
Summary of the Professional Skills Courses
- Group Project and Presentation Skills - built into the Oscillation and Waves module. Year 1 Professional Skills starts with a project highlighting teamwork, the importance of research and how to present your work - inclusing both poster presentation and oral presentation.
- The Problems in Physics course - you will learn about the big issues happening in modern physics and what each research group in Blackett does to address these. Following on from the course you will review a research journal article on one of these topics, and have to summarise it, set it in context and provide referencing.
- Problem Solving - as part of the Practical Physics module you will learn how to break down a physics problem and solve it from first principles.
In Year 1 you will also receive presentations on applying for sumemr research positions and how to write the best CV and covering letter possible to get your foot in the door.
- Term 1: Scientific article writing
- Students will choose a scientific topic of interest to them, research it and produce an article style report. This will be assessed by; (i) a short planning document, (ii) a mid-period short presentation and (iii) the final submitted article.
- The deadline for the article is the first Monday of term two but with students strongly encouraged to complete it before they leave for the Christmas break.
- Introduction to entrepreneurship and innovation
- Teamwork: 2 page summary of a commercial idea
- Teamwork: Elevator Pitch – a short pitch to introduce the commercial idea
- Introduction to scientific research funding
- Teamwork: Marking and ranking scientific proposals
- Teamwork: Writing a short proposal for funding to support a research project
- Teamwork: Presentation as a group to convince ‘funders’ to fund research grant proposal
- 1 page summary of MSci project written in a public engagement style
- Individual poster presentation based on MSci project
Departmental Careers Advisor
Prof. Lesley Cohen
Room 912 Blackett level 9
Office hours are 12 - 2 pm on Mondays and Fridays during term. Please e-mail first to make an appointment during these times. In special cases, appointments can be arranged at other times.
The Departmental Careers Advisor is member of academic staff who acts as a point of contact between the students in that department and the College's Careers Advisory Service. If you want to discuss, for example, vacation training, research opportunities and further study, CV writing for technical jobs, or other career matters then you are welcome to come and see me.
Within the Department, notices about Careers Talks, Employer Presentations, Vacancies, etc are displayed on noticeboards within the student study area on level 2 of Blackett. Notices of MSc / PhD opportunities will also be displayed there. Careers reference and take-away literature is available from the Careers Service.
Careers Service at IC
Jessica Popplewell is the Careers Consultant responsible for the Physics department
20 minute appointments with any of the Careers Consultants, are available in the Careers Service. These need to be booked on the day via JobsLive . The Careers Service is located on Level 5 of the Sherfield Building.
The College Careers Service offers a range of services to Physics students. The Careers website www.imperial.ac.uk/careers is a comprehensive information resource where you can find help with every stage of planning your career, from making choices, to applying and attending interviews. There is also information on psychometric tests and other activities that might form part of the assessment / selection process. You may find the publication ‘Your Guide to Career Planning’ useful also.
The Careers Service organises a programme of employer presentations, fairs, skills workshops run by employers and a range of careers seminars as well as a vacancy site. All the events can be booked via JobsLive at www.imperial.ac.uk/careers/opportunities/search-for-a-job/
PhysicsJobs is one of the leading recruitment directories for the physics community, and is a valuable resource for undergraduates looking for a job or post-graduate course in physics or engineering during their final year.
JobsWatch is the online jobs resource for high-energy physics and related areas, and is also a useful website for undergraduates.
JobsLive The Imperial College Careers Service maintains a career management system, called JobsLive, that includes a database of vacancies. Employers can advertise vacancies in this system via the following link.
Other Useful Links
What Imperial Physics Graduates Do
You can view the overall undergraduate destinations statistics below from the Department of Physics to to gain an insight of previous Imperial students and their career paths to date.
Careers Presentations Delivered by the Careers Service