Two First Class degrees in physics, no job yet - is COVID that bad for jobs?

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SWolf1997
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Hi guys,

looking for some general advice and wondering how other recent graduates are getting on with the current UK job market and their general mentality going forward!

I've recently graduated from UCL with a masters degree in physics (Distinction 80+ % average) and previously graduated with a first class degree in theoretical physics from another Russell Group university. I've been applying to many graduate jobs & part-time work positions to keep myself occupied (whilst at home searching for a full-time graduate job), but it's been rejection after rejection after many gruelling and long graduate applications. I recently was hopeful for a graduate scheme position in my hometown in the East Midlands area for a military defence company, having got past all 6 assessment stages, only to recently get a short email with no feedback saying I wasn't selected. I've even expanded the job search to other cities including London, but it's been the same there too, with going through video interview after interview and not even hearing back from some jobs.

Ultimately my questions are:

1. Are there any others in similar positions and frustrated / losing morale with the job search because of COVID? Before the pandemic, I applied for jobs and got interviews within 2 days sometimes, but now I'm not even getting proper replies from even part-time work!

2. I'm very concerned about moving to new locations at the moment for work because of the pandemic and the uncertainty surrounding it - how are others dealing with this?

3. I've exhausted all my options with applications in nearby locations (there not being many technology / STEM related jobs in the East Midlands as far as I can tell ...) so where should I go from here? I'm going through some personal family problems at home so can't leave for elsewhere even if I wanted to right now, and I'm trying my best to keep my mental health in check but it's proving to be very challenging. Of course, I am by no means in the worst-case scenario and I'm grateful for all I have, but as a recent graduate of 2020 I feel very lost and worried for my future job prospects / career during this time after working so hard for 4 years.

Thanks. :-)
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MiffedGrad
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My sympathies mate, I'm going through much the same thing (have been a fair bit longer though, not to worry though!) - there's thousands of us out here, which is consoling in some ways, but competition in others.

One thing I would advise - whether I'm in any such position to give it is a debate for another day - is if you've got any random skills or interests, try monetising them. It probably won't solve all your problems and make you the next Bezos, but it lets you do something you like and get paid for it - good for the self-esteem! For example, I got quite interested in houses at Uni. Now, I don't want to become a full-on estate agent, but I thought I'd look online (Fiverr, Upwork, Freelancer etc.) to see if anyone wants help with property searches. So a few times a month, in amongst all the actual job hunting, I might help some guy find a 3-bed semi in Leeds. I'll say I'll find some options for a price, look em up, put em in a document or spreadsheet, send em over. Helps someone out, breaks things up a bit, and all of a sudden you've got client management and negotiation experience, insight into a new sector, kept your research/presentation skills up-to-scratch.

Now, I don't suggest doing this exact thing...I'm a saddo who likes browsing RightMove, but maybe you play guitar? Say you'll write a riff for someone for cash. Or design a logo, or make a playlist, or do some proofreading. I've a few side-gigs, as it were, and whilst none of them are approaching enough to solve things, it's good experience and sometimes more fun than job-hunting. Someone said to me I should try making my own work, and I would wholeheartedly recommend it if the system is knocking you back. Also, there are quite a lot of jobs going around COVID, too. Try joining the National Vaccine Programme - you don't have to be a HCP or do the jabs directly, they're recruiting just logistics/admin too.

Otherwise, keep on keeping on. I hate the hectoring kind of response these things get from people with flawless CVs, six Lambos and a castle in Herefordshire, plays havoc with whatever way you're getting to grips with the situation. I posted something like you did in a pit of frustration a few months ago, and a very nice responder told me that since you are who you are, you will find success. If you're worried about it, and clever enough to do what you've done, then you've clearly got real drive and intellect. I don't know whether it's too late this year to try for PhD studentships in Physics, if you were still interested? I was getting knocked back left right and centre until recently, but now I'm through to the final round of four different graduate schemes and still to hear from more, got a PhD interview, and may apply for a Masters (in something I didn't fancy straight after my degree, but things change...see!). Until we're sorted, you just have to come up with ways of dealing with it. Location-wise, it's so up in the air I wouldn't even worry too much. If you got a job with a London office, whose to say you wouldn't still be working online from home come September? It's galling and can feel at times like a cruel trick, but things will resolve. It's the constant feeling of in-between that I hate. You can't move on because you're still in it...If someone just said, you're starting this job or this course in September, fill the time from now to then it'd be much easier - but when you're in that time, you feel like you're constantly in flux.

Hope your other problems aren't too bad, and keep it up. You're doing what you can!
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route255
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Same here. Graduated last year. Even got a position last year and cancelled and they never offered a 2021 start to me. Only job I have got was a temp in a supermarket since. Other people in my uni have been hired so Covid cant be the only excuse, though they did have placement experience.

Also been looking all over the UK, though how can you make the move if your skint with no job.*
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SWolf1997
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(Original post by MiffedGrad)
My sympathies mate, I'm going through much the same thing (have been a fair bit longer though, not to worry though!) - there's thousands of us out here, which is consoling in some ways, but competition in others.

One thing I would advise - whether I'm in any such position to give it is a debate for another day - is if you've got any random skills or interests, try monetising them. It probably won't solve all your problems and make you the next Bezos, but it lets you do something you like and get paid for it - good for the self-esteem! For example, I got quite interested in houses at Uni. Now, I don't want to become a full-on estate agent, but I thought I'd look online (Fiverr, Upwork, Freelancer etc.) to see if anyone wants help with property searches. So a few times a month, in amongst all the actual job hunting, I might help some guy find a 3-bed semi in Leeds. I'll say I'll find some options for a price, look em up, put em in a document or spreadsheet, send em over. Helps someone out, breaks things up a bit, and all of a sudden you've got client management and negotiation experience, insight into a new sector, kept your research/presentation skills up-to-scratch.

Now, I don't suggest doing this exact thing...I'm a saddo who likes browsing RightMove, but maybe you play guitar? Say you'll write a riff for someone for cash. Or design a logo, or make a playlist, or do some proofreading. I've a few side-gigs, as it were, and whilst none of them are approaching enough to solve things, it's good experience and sometimes more fun than job-hunting. Someone said to me I should try making my own work, and I would wholeheartedly recommend it if the system is knocking you back. Also, there are quite a lot of jobs going around COVID, too. Try joining the National Vaccine Programme - you don't have to be a HCP or do the jabs directly, they're recruiting just logistics/admin too.

Otherwise, keep on keeping on. I hate the hectoring kind of response these things get from people with flawless CVs, six Lambos and a castle in Herefordshire, plays havoc with whatever way you're getting to grips with the situation. I posted something like you did in a pit of frustration a few months ago, and a very nice responder told me that since you are who you are, you will find success. If you're worried about it, and clever enough to do what you've done, then you've clearly got real drive and intellect. I don't know whether it's too late this year to try for PhD studentships in Physics, if you were still interested? I was getting knocked back left right and centre until recently, but now I'm through to the final round of four different graduate schemes and still to hear from more, got a PhD interview, and may apply for a Masters (in something I didn't fancy straight after my degree, but things change...see!). Until we're sorted, you just have to come up with ways of dealing with it. Location-wise, it's so up in the air I wouldn't even worry too much. If you got a job with a London office, whose to say you wouldn't still be working online from home come September? It's galling and can feel at times like a cruel trick, but things will resolve. It's the constant feeling of in-between that I hate. You can't move on because you're still in it...If someone just said, you're starting this job or this course in September, fill the time from now to then it'd be much easier - but when you're in that time, you feel like you're constantly in flux.

Hope your other problems aren't too bad, and keep it up. You're doing what you can!
DM'd you a reply - thank you!
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Kerzen
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(Original post by SWolf1997)
Hi guys,

looking for some general advice and wondering how other recent graduates are getting on with the current UK job market and their general mentality going forward!

I've recently graduated from UCL with a masters degree in physics (Distinction 80+ % average) and previously graduated with a first class degree in theoretical physics from another Russell Group university. I've been applying to many graduate jobs & part-time work positions to keep myself occupied (whilst at home searching for a full-time graduate job), but it's been rejection after rejection after many gruelling and long graduate applications. I recently was hopeful for a graduate scheme position in my hometown in the East Midlands area for a military defence company, having got past all 6 assessment stages, only to recently get a short email with no feedback saying I wasn't selected. I've even expanded the job search to other cities including London, but it's been the same there too, with going through video interview after interview and not even hearing back from some jobs.

Ultimately my questions are:

1. Are there any others in similar positions and frustrated / losing morale with the job search because of COVID? Before the pandemic, I applied for jobs and got interviews within 2 days sometimes, but now I'm not even getting proper replies from even part-time work!

2. I'm very concerned about moving to new locations at the moment for work because of the pandemic and the uncertainty surrounding it - how are others dealing with this?

3. I've exhausted all my options with applications in nearby locations (there not being many technology / STEM related jobs in the East Midlands as far as I can tell ...) so where should I go from here? I'm going through some personal family problems at home so can't leave for elsewhere even if I wanted to right now, and I'm trying my best to keep my mental health in check but it's proving to be very challenging. Of course, I am by no means in the worst-case scenario and I'm grateful for all I have, but as a recent graduate of 2020 I feel very lost and worried for my future job prospects / career during this time after working so hard for 4 years.

Thanks. :-)
Would Weapon Engineer Officer appeal to you? You should be able to apply for it with the qualifications you have.

https://www.royalnavy.mod.uk/careers...gineer-officer
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SWolf1997
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(Original post by route255)
Same here. Graduated last year. Even got a position last year and cancelled and they never offered a 2021 start to me. Only job I have got was a temp in a supermarket since. Other people in my uni have been hired so Covid cant be the only excuse, though they did have placement experience.

Also been looking all over the UK, though how can you make the move if your skint with no job.*
Sorry to hear about the loss of your grad position last year! It's great that you found a temp job at least to keep you occupied, productive and earning (albeit isn't your ideal job at the moment).

If you don't mind me asking, what subject did you study at uni and what type of grad jobs have you been applying for? What's your general experience been like with applications? With regards to making the move with no financial backing, these are my sentiments exactly. Most of the interesting tech jobs I feel are either down south or away from my hometown, so this definitely has constrained my search to a limited few options. Say, hypothetically, you even took out a loan temporarily for rent payments for a flat-share in London, what's the guarantee the job would be reliable given the current pandemic situ for you to pay it back / general expenses?

Does anyone else have any other approaches / extensions to this question about to how to move away from home for better graduate positions with limited financial resources in the current climate?
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SWolf1997
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(Original post by Kerzen)
Would this appeal to you? You should be able to apply for it with the qualifications you have.

https://www.royalnavy.mod.uk/careers...gineer-officer
An interesting suggestion and something I've certainly considered along with the RAF engineering jobs; I have a friend who's currently doing this role in the Navy. I'm not sure if it would be for me though. I'm more focussed on mathematical physics-based jobs that may involve programming / artificial intelligence / analyst / consultancy roles, but as I mentioned my options are limited in my hometown location so definitely open to anything worthwhile!
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Kerzen
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(Original post by SWolf1997)
An interesting suggestion and something I've certainly considered along with the RAF engineering jobs; I have a friend who's currently doing this role in the Navy. I'm not sure if it would be for me though. I'm more focussed on mathematical physics-based jobs that may involve programming / artificial intelligence / analyst / consultancy roles, but as I mentioned my options are limited in my hometown location so definitely open to anything worthwhile!
Something I would say is that there is more to this role than what is actually given on the page. You mention things like artificial intelligence and analysis; I would suggest giving some thought to what actually constitutes modern defence in all its forms.

Someone I know read Physics at University and is a Weapon Engineer Officer Submariner, by the way.

I note that you say that you need to be at home at the moment; if you were successful in an application for WEO, the chances are that your place at Dartmouth would be most likely to be for September of this year, possibly January, thus giving you enough time to hopefully get things sorted out in time.

An alternative option for you would be joining as a Reservist which would be 'local' to you as a rule. Which is your nearest large City?

Something like the Reserves would be good for you.
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Kerzen
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(Original post by SWolf1997)
An interesting suggestion and something I've certainly considered along with the RAF engineering jobs; I have a friend who's currently doing this role in the Navy. I'm not sure if it would be for me though. I'm more focussed on mathematical physics-based jobs that may involve programming / artificial intelligence / analyst / consultancy roles, but as I mentioned my options are limited in my hometown location so definitely open to anything worthwhile!
You might also find things of interest to you here:

https://www.gchq-careers.co.uk/index.html
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Final Fantasy
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I've so far rejected every candidate I've interviewed due to lack of commercial experience, regardless of their education. Just how things are right now, huge demand for skilled professionals and not enough in the talent pool...
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route255
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(Original post by Final Fantasy)
I've so far rejected every candidate I've interviewed due to lack of commercial experience, regardless of their education. Just how things are right now, huge demand for skilled professionals and not enough in the talent pool...
Interesting, what is your advice for them to start?
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Final Fantasy
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(Original post by route255)
Interesting, what is your advice for them to start?
My advice isn't gonna be very helpful and you'll probably hate it: get some actual work experience or side projects or something to show that you've got experience. I understand it's a chicken and egg situations but employers don't care, they just need that experience especially for mid-level / senior roles. For junior roles maybe you can get by with a degree alone but I'm betting the competition is fierce that employers will prefer the graduates who've already got experience.

You can also wordplay with your CV a bit, personally don't recommend overdoing this as I can usually tell if someone is being genuine or not during the interview.
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route255
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(Original post by Final Fantasy)
My advice isn't gonna be very helpful and you'll probably hate it: get some actual work experience or side projects or something to show that you've got experience. I understand it's a chicken and egg situations but employers don't care, they just need that experience especially for mid-level / senior roles. For junior roles maybe you can get by with a degree alone but I'm betting the competition is fierce that employers will prefer the graduates who've already got experience.

You can also wordplay with your CV a bit, personally don't recommend overdoing this as I can usually tell if someone is being genuine or not during the interview.
I see, I have seen some graduate jobs saying for applicants with under 2 years experience. What about someone who is very enthusiastic, great awareness of the company etc, great CV but no work experience?
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route255
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(Original post by SWolf1997)
Sorry to hear about the loss of your grad position last year! It's great that you found a temp job at least to keep you occupied, productive and earning (albeit isn't your ideal job at the moment).

If you don't mind me asking, what subject did you study at uni and what type of grad jobs have you been applying for? What's your general experience been like with applications? With regards to making the move with no financial backing, these are my sentiments exactly. Most of the interesting tech jobs I feel are either down south or away from my hometown, so this definitely has constrained my search to a limited few options. Say, hypothetically, you even took out a loan temporarily for rent payments for a flat-share in London, what's the guarantee the job would be reliable given the current pandemic situ for you to pay it back / general expenses?

Does anyone else have any other approaches / extensions to this question about to how to move away from home for better graduate positions with limited financial resources in the current climate?
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Final Fantasy
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(Original post by route255)
I see, I have seen some graduate jobs saying for applicants with under 2 years experience. What about someone who is very enthusiastic, great awareness of the company etc, great CV but no work experience?
I hired someone who only had like 6 months of experience, it was a bit of a gamble tbh but he did so well at the interview and willingness to learn that we hired him. Best investment ever, he learned and picked up so much and now he specialises in frond-end development. I'm looking for someone to replace him because he's leaving now for a much better paid role.
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route255
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(Original post by Final Fantasy)
I hired someone who only had like 6 months of experience, it was a bit of a gamble tbh but he did so well at the interview and willingness to learn that we hired him. Best investment ever, he learned and picked up so much and now he specialises in frond-end development. I'm looking for someone to replace him because he's leaving now for a much better paid role.
Bet he learned a lot, you have start somewhere. Would offer some work experience for a short period?
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Final Fantasy
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Bet he learned a lot, you have start somewhere. Would offer some work experience for a short period?
It depends - if my boss said to me "right, we're on a low budget, find a junior engineer we can train up or something" then yeah I'd tell the recruitment agencies to look for either: graduate candidates or candidates with experience. BUT, for the security of the business I would give preference to the one with experience even then. It's nothing against the candidates themselves it's just looking at the business risks. If the recruiter sent me graduates with experience and those without, I would pick the graduate with experience. And again there's a but: the interview is the candidate's chance to convince the business that they are the right choice. And as I indicated earlier, one such candidate who only had 6 months work experience really did convince us.

If you need tips on interviews or getting experience etc. I can answer from a technical background e.g. IT / tech / engineering / development, but I'm not sure about physics so much. If a candidate can't get commercial experience, then I look for and recommend volunteer / open source / personal projects / professional certifications etc. type experience i.e. anything that shows they can do what they claim.

Unfortunately, many of the times a degree alone doesn't translate very world to the real world of work. I know people don't wanna hear this, but that's just how it is - the working business environment is completely different and probably a shock to young people coming out of full-time education. This is why I encourage all students to get work experience, personal projects, volunteering, certifications etc. as much as possible - it is in fact more important than the degree itself in specific roles i.e. speaking from experience: IT / tech / engineering type roles.

I'm not talking about graduate schemes, just normal roles.

Failing that, apply to every apprenticeship scheme possible and hope for the best. It will be low pay, high stress, but at least you've got that commercial experience on your CV and more importantly, it's relevant to the role you're applying!

I also personally advise against applying for graduate schemes. Rather, go to LinkedIn, popular job boards - filter trainee/junior positions and just apply for EVERY ROLE. You'll probably end up with 90% rejections but the rest will be interviews where you've got a chance. Recruiters will have you on their databases for years - it benefits them if you get a role too. This process also toughens you up. The whole graduate scheme 5 step recruitment process with telephone, assessments, dozen interviews etc. is all ******** and waste of time IMO and barely tells you anything about the candidate themselves in all the right ways that matter.
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route255
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(Original post by Final Fantasy)
It depends - if my boss said to me "right, we're on a low budget, find a junior engineer we can train up or something" then yeah I'd tell the recruitment agencies to look for either: graduate candidates or candidates with experience. BUT, for the security of the business I would give preference to the one with experience even then. It's nothing against the candidates themselves it's just looking at the business risks. If the recruiter sent me graduates with experience and those without, I would pick the graduate with experience. And again there's a but: the interview is the candidate's chance to convince the business that they are the right choice. And as I indicated earlier, one such candidate who only had 6 months work experience really did convince us.

If you need tips on interviews or getting experience etc. I can answer from a technical background e.g. IT / tech / engineering / development, but I'm not sure about physics so much. If a candidate can't get commercial experience, then I look for and recommend volunteer / open source / personal projects / professional certifications etc. type experience i.e. anything that shows they can do what they claim.

Unfortunately, many of the times a degree alone doesn't translate very world to the real world of work. I know people don't wanna hear this, but that's just how it is - the working business environment is completely different and probably a shock to young people coming out of full-time education. This is why I encourage all students to get work experience, personal projects, volunteering, certifications etc. as much as possible - it is in fact more important than the degree itself in specific roles i.e. speaking from experience: IT / tech / engineering type roles.

I'm not talking about graduate schemes, just normal roles.

Failing that, apply to every apprenticeship scheme possible and hope for the best. It will be low pay, high stress, but at least you've got that commercial experience on your CV and more importantly, it's relevant to the role you're applying!

I also personally advise against applying for graduate schemes. Rather, go to LinkedIn, popular job boards - filter trainee/junior positions and just apply for EVERY ROLE. You'll probably end up with 90% rejections but the rest will be interviews where you've got a chance. Recruiters will have you on their databases for years - it benefits them if you get a role too. This process also toughens you up. The whole graduate scheme 5 step recruitment process with telephone, assessments, dozen interviews etc. is all ******** and waste of time IMO and barely tells you anything about the candidate themselves in all the right ways that matter.
I do feel that full time degrees in vocational subjects are outdated now. I studied a construction degree, if I could go back I would of done degree apprenticeships. Think the construction degrees should all be like that, though companies are reluctant to open up more positions that way.

As for applying , I'm applying all over the country, just need my foot in the door. Also messaged someone directly on Linkedin about work experience, most people ignore but gotta try. I'm happy to do unpaid work experience.
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achieve526kk
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i believe good things comes to those who wait
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(Original post by achieve526kk)
i believe good things comes to those who wait
The real world doesn't work that way - you gotta put in the effort.
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