Careers in Government: Bench Scientist to Policy Wonk
K B. Gebbie
The U.S. system for graduate education in physics is arguably the most effective system yet devised for advanced training in physics. Focused as it is on original research, it teaches students to identify significant problems, study them in depth, and communicate the results. Because it trains them to be analytical, adaptable, persevering, and pragmatic problem solvers, it prepares them for a wide variety of nontraditional careers. Hence the demand for physicists by Wall Street and management consultant teams. Yet, as stressed in the 1995 report by the Committee on Science, Engineering, and Public Policy (COSEPUP), what is lacking is exposure to career information and guidance. Many students appear to be unaware of the range and richness of opportunities outside academe. In an effort to fill this gap, illustrative examples of diverse careers and career changes in government will be presented, together with examples of cooperative programs that can enhance the student's appreciation of career possibilities.