Long Shot

Anyone have any good advice for a newly-minted graduate with a B.S. in Physics and a minor in math?
After getting out of the army a few years back, I thought it’d be a good idea to finish up my bachelors degree, so I’ve spent the last few years cloistered in the Physics & Atmospheric Sciences building at the University of Arizona. Now, I’m in the home stretch: if everything goes to plan, I will graduate next spring and be married shortly thereafter.
Unfortunately, this brings up the big question, “What next?” Do I go into industry? If so, where? Doing what? Maybe work as a lab technician? Teach? At what level? Do I go on to graduate school? Where? For what ((Physics? Engineering? I really enjoy science, particularly space science (as opposed to, say, quantum mechanics), rockets, etc. and would like to stay involved in related fields. )) Should I pursue a Masters or shoot for the Doctorate?
My soon-to-be-wife is a high school math teacher in the Phoenix region. While she makes a decent salary, it’s insufficient for her to be a sugar mama. Fortunately the grad schools I’ve been looking at will cover my tuition and pay of a stipend (not much, but it’s enough to live on), and the VA will give me ~$600 or so per month plus some money for tuition and books for three years, so we should be reasonably set for money, so long as we’re smart about it.
In addition to actually doing scientific research, I enjoy teaching, and would very much like to be a university professor at some point. In nearly all cases I’ve looked at, this requires a Ph.D. and from what I’ve been able to find out, it’s generally better to get started on this sort of thing early. Alas, I seem to have a bit more generalized love of science than a focus on a specific topic, so finding the necessary focus needed for a doctoral program would be challenging.
It’s a bit of a long shot, but do any of you, the gentle reader, have any advice for a person such as myself? While comments are welcome, I’d really appreciate email, as it allows for me to respond more personally.

6 thoughts on “Long Shot”

  1. I once dated a guy who is now a prof over at ASU in chemical engineering. He went straight on for his Ph.D. and then did some post doc work at a government lab for a few years. I guess after that he decided to enter academia.
    I know that’s not much of a description, but I only have vague information since I split with him right before he finished up his Ph.D. and I finished undergrad. It took me several years before I thought of him again to Google him. 🙂

  2. Orbital Sciences? Or maybe Raytheon or Allied Signal ?
    I dunno, I suck at math. 🙂
    My former roommate got his Doctorate’s in E.E. and is now in the L.A. area working on spread-spectrum radio stuff for the Navy/TRW after working in the industyy and going overseas for two years, so maybe the urge to get the big degree ain’t that urgent.

  3. Go back in the Army as an officer. Get the gov’t to pay for your masters and Ph.D. Maybe you can teach at West Point for a few years. You will have your 20 in before you know it.

  4. First of all, thanks for the awesome blog. I am currently working on my B.S. in physics, really like firearms, and care about politics. Your blog appeals to all three of those interests.
    I have been able to figure out my next steps by keeping my eye on my end goal. Bruce Wilkinson’s “Dream Giver” was a huge help to me.
    As for Navy Nuclear Power School, I also was strongly considering going into NUPOC. NUPOC offers opportunity for teaching, research, or a line officer. This seems like it would be great for you, if you don’t mind being tied to a government on a downward spiral.
    I hope you find what you are looking for.
    God Bless.
    P.S. Thanks for your service to our country.

  5. BTW, my co-blogger Jon graduated from NUPOC a few years ago and then did a stint on a nuke boat. He’d be happy to answer any questions you might have.

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