CandD

PhD in Physics, what now?

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CandD

Hi all,

I graduated in June 2016 with a PhD in experimental solid state Physics with a specialization in superconductivity and magnetism, I know this might be a bit over the top to state this, but it seems that most of the job based threads want a person to list their specialization and this is mine.  I will be picking up my PR VISA on Monday and we are planning on activating the PR in Feb 2018 and naturally staying.  Currently I am a lecturer at a university. So now for the questions:

1) I have started applying for jobs as I can now state that I am eligible to work in Canada, I do mention my landing date.  How likely is it that I will get an Skype interview and is their something I can do to improve my chances of getting one?

2) Academic jobs are fairly scarce and I am looking to move more into an applied science or analysis role anyway. Is the non-academic job enviroment welcoming or weary of such a change in career direction?

3) Where is the best hunting grounds for these kind of jobs: Ottawa, Toronto and British Columbia? I know these places also have the highest competition for said positions so finding a balance between job density and compertition is one of the biggest challenges. 

4) With respect to networking how does one initiate a conversation, via Linkedin for example?  My experience with networking is at academic conferences in which there are sessions where people present their research and people who are in the same field may approach each other and discuss ideas and possible collaboration.  

I do apologize if these seem a bit stupid or obvious questions, but these are the questions that are currently plaguing me.  Thank you in advance. 

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Nettie

Hi @CandD One thing that comes to mind is that you may need to state in your cover letter that your intended arrival date is "x", but you are willing to relocate at a date that is convenient for the employer. I will give your other questions some thought and respond if I can. Good luck!

(edit)

2) In my experience the Canadians are highly qualified even in the non-academic field and I doubt they would see a career change as a negative. I would venture to say they would understand it, since you are foreign educated and it happens with a lot of new immigrants.

3) I believe you will be the best person to know the answer to this. If I were you I would flood the market (all major centres, including Montreal) with my resume. 

4) You can make a connection and introduce yourself in a short note. Once you've made the connection you can write a letter to introduce yourself and attach your resume. Think of it as networking online vs in person. The best is still the in-person networking. Look at opportunities for that (like upcoming seminars in your area of interest) at/after the time of your arrival. Connecting with like-minded people on Linkedin will give you an overview of the way the Canadians think and approach certain ideas and topics of mutual interest.

Edited by Nettie

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CandD

@Nettie Thank you for your comments.  I have a question regarding your point 3 above, with EE can you go work in Quebec once you are a PR in Canada?

 I am indeed flooding the market with my CV and I have been quite surprised with the amount of applications I have sent out this week: on aveage 3/4 per day in my chosen fields and every day has at least 10 new job postings.  I feel confident for the long term prospects of getting a job, having one lined up prior to going will decrease my uncertainty produced by the questions: "where should we go" and "what are we doing now that we are here"?

I will let you know if I get good news. 

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Nettie

Hi @CandD You're welcome. Not sure how EE works. However, I believe if you're a PR, you can work wherever your heart desires. In the end it is about getting a job and contributing to society. :)  Yes, tag me with your update, it would be exciting to see you succeed!

Edited by Nettie

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OutOfSa

Hi CandD

I'd love to tell you it's easy - and it could be, and then again, you're "African".

On TV we are currently being treated to a spate of false degrees - some people high up in universities / colleges are being found/suspected to have bought their degrees from fake universities in Pakistan.  It's amazing that these people can pull this off, I have a M.Sc. and can tell in seconds when talking to a person if they are knowledgeable - (Can't remember what the fake degrees were in - perhaps something more difficult to spot than science... Hard to BS physics !  :D). 

But then, many years back, I worked at a SA factory - the CEO of the plant  was chatting to the chemist from head office - turns out the HO chemist smelled a rat while chatting to the CEO of the plant and started to investigate - it turned up a fake degree - cost him CEO everything.   My thoughts at the time were, "if you're going to fake a chemistry degree, at least take courses to make sure you can talk it..."

 

Toronto has many very high tech companies - you only really notice them when you look for them, despite the USA thinking were are a buck of country bumpkins.  

Your problem will be to persuade people to employ you with an "African" degree (no matter that it was assesed by WES.)  People are very suspicious of foreign qualifications, once you have been here for 5 or more years, you will begin to understand why they feel this way.  Once I moved from the application side to the assessing side, I realised how creative people are with their resumes.  

Eg: Touched on VERILOG in school, translates to  "accomplished programmer in VERILOG, with 5 years industrial experience.  "

Working as a technician under engineers translates to :  "Experienced design engineer with 5 years development experience".  

We had one young lady that looked like a rocket scientist (on paper), we were suspicious but took her on a month to month contract - turns out she knew nothing, not to mention that language became an immediate barrier after starting.  Being from SA, at least you don't have that problem.  Here language is thrown up as a protection mechanism when work is not done as requested - EH?  Sorry?  

SEE:   Manuel Faulty Towers - "I know nothing"

Don't be discouraged if it does not go according to plan immediately - be prepared to start lower down and work up.  Smaller companies are more likely to give you a go as they are not as rigid, but on the down side they may exploit you - using your brains at a fraction of market rates.  This is normal, but it's vital to get those "Canadian Experience" months.  

"Canadian Experience" - What is that? - well, it's a bit of BS and a bit of employer protection - as I said many boast massive knowledge - but many immigrants fail to impress - whether it be due to exaggerated qualifications or language problems.   When thrown into an office / lab position as a green-horn, it can really be difficult to get up to speed.  Everything is different - phone, accent, terms and methods.  Canadian graduates are super smart so there is a lot of competition.

Another issue I came across was that Canada does not know what to do with "pure" scientists - here everyone is a Chemical Engineer, not a chemist etc....  In my 2nd job I worked with a great young graduate for a Russian family business making Night Vision equipment, he was a Canadian graduate with a MSC in physics.   In his case, the Canadian studies was a means to a PR, he was fluent in Russian so it made sense to work for them.

Anyway, that's all I have good luck with your new adventure.

Oh, and a bit of advice - you say flood the market with CV's?  It's vital to create a specific cover letter for every application - without that you may have little success.  It takes me on average about 3 hrs of research and compilation to create on cover letter.  Make sure to use the Canadian "resume" format, or it's file 13 as soon as they open it.  You have to stand out from the rest, be creative and try to use a catchy first sentence in your cover letter - you have only a fraction of an instant to create an impression on the recruiter.  

 

Your PHD is certainly fascinating - perhaps it's just different enough to land you a great position :ilikeit:  There can't be that many people out there with a similar claim !

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CandD

@OutOfSa Thank you for the insights and taking the time to share your experiences, this is what I love about this forum.  It is sometimes so frustrating how the shortcuts people take taint the environment that we all are in, but we just have to work at overcoming that.  People having fake degrees is a problem especially when most of the job posts in Canada need a post secondary qualification and a high percentage require around 3 years specific job experience (the second is a little harder to fudge).  My belief with job hunting is that they cannot employ you if they do not know you exist therefore I am sending out my CV because if I do not then my chance of getting my foot in the door is defintly zero so I might as well try.  I am lucky in some ways as my career is just starting over here so if I have to start from the bottom in Canada it is not an issue as I am basically at the bottom of the ladder here ;).  

With respect to flooding the market for me having 3 job applications a day is insane, and I have become really efficient at crafting cover letters with the job hunting I have done over the past year in the UK, Europe and now Canada (let me just say it has been a long immigration road to get to Canada B)) and it seems that the pure science jobs does not really exist and as you say there are far more application/engineering jobs on offer.  It is for this reason that I have cast my net wider and the fact that I am keen to get out of the university academic environment for whoever says that academia is not cut throat and the corporate world is far tougher, has never been in the academic world.

The hunt is still on so far I have had two no responces and 16 are still out there...

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OutOfSa

You're welcome as the Canadians always say:

One silver lining that I have found here is many Jobs say "xxx Degree" or "Equivalent" experience.....

That opens up a whole lot of opportunity for getting into positions which are similar - without being stymied by the exact qualification requirements.  

What this usually means is that a company may well call you for and interview even if you don't have that Engineering degree - (assuming it's not some position that requires registration with a society".)

 

Sounds like you have it all under control !

I wasn't much different to you in as much as I was sending out many Resume's (don't say CV's !!).

My first real job was a surprise - I was emailing Resume's - probably about 3 or more a day too.  My full time job at that time was writing resume's - for me !

Suddenly, the phone rings - it's someone calling to talk to me, 2 weeks later I was starting my first real Canadian tech job.  I was extremely pleases and excited.

I found that when I was new I was so excited to get a job I hardly listened to the pay.... $18 / hr.  I soon realised I was working really hard doing sophisticated stuff for little pay.  Enter exploitation.  Then after 6 months, the bosses wife ("HR") called me in and said I was doing nothing for the company, she was considering firing me, but would give me another chance - definitely no increase.  I went to my manager crushed - I had created a number of new designs and efficient processes - I could not understand it - how could she asses technology that she did not understand.  He just glowered and said - that's the way they work, it's so they don't have to pay you more. 

Soon after that I left for a great job where my work is valued - I now earn MUCH more than I did.  5 years later I have responsibility, freedom and sway.   When I left, they suddenly counter offered 3 times - that was the best feeling ever - it showed that the manager was indeed right, they did value my work, they just didn't want to pay for it. This is the longest I have ever stayed at any job in any country !

As for the first company, two years later, they came back again and made another offer - and I said, thanks, but no thanks  :D

Once you have cracked the system, Canada is a brilliant place to live.  It's paradise for raising kids - there is so much opportunity - more that I have ever seen in SA or the UK.

 

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CandD

@OutOfSa That story is something I can relate to, during my PhD my boss (supervisor) also overworked me and always pointed out how little I was doing...even though I was in the lab 13 hours a day while doing 3 projects at any given time.  Now that I have decided to leave for Canada he now realizes just how much work I did in keeping that lab moving and the students he has in there now are not so dedicated as I was :P.

Once I reach Canada and if I have to start from the bottom in a similar situation it is ok, in the beginning, and then moving up is only natural.  The thing I like about the Canadian job scene is that most if not all the jobs give you a living wage, therefore you can pursue your passions more easily and have a real chance to be happy.  In SA your concern about money equates to the amount of security you can afford, therefore it is money first and happiness second :( and in Canada it seems to be the other way around  :lol:.

Thank you for the support and the insights into the Canadian culture that we will be learning as we become citizens of our new home in the years to come.  

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MuggleOnline

@CandD - Hi! Have you landed in Canada yet? We are in a very similar situation at the moment; both hubby and I have PhDs in Chemistry. I was just wondering if you have had any luck in either the academic world? It seems like there are so few positions available (although the SA job market is no better in terms of this).

Would love to hear about any insight you may have with regards to the scientific job market in Canada

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CandD

@MuggleOnline  My wife and I are landing 07 Feb 2018, we have booked plane tickets and the first two months at an Airbnb.  There are plenty of scientific jobs to apply for, which I do, but there are already many candidates that are already in Canada which makes interviews scarce.  To give you an idea there were 600 applications for a job in Toronto which I interviewed for.  Academic jobs are tricky the posts whch are there are professor level and it is a requirement that you need to have your own research funding and we can not really use NRF funding :angry:.  I am not looking for an academic post though as the system here in SA has tainted my view irreversibly... 

I think that the interviews will pick up in Jan and definitely once we are in Canada when you can see them face to face as it were.   On the forum people say that the Canadians regard this face to face interview very highly and I think that is the biggest obstacle in getting my foot in the door currently.  

I am sorry my news is not more positive but I feel more positive about my prospects going to Canada without a job lined up than the word of the university saying they will renew my contract here in SA.

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MuggleOnline

Thanks for the reply @CandD. Academic posts are horrifically scarce in Canada; hubby has been applying for them (he is actually currently post-doc'ing in Canada at the moment) and no interviews as of yet :( Unfortunately the academic situation in SA has tainted academia for both of us too; although judging from hubby's experience in Canada it seems to the same the world over.

Thanks for your insight regarding the job situation. I know the scientific fields tend to be quite different to it is nice to hear from someone in a related field. I have been applying for jobs from SA, but unfortunately no luck as of yet. Hoping that things will pick up once we actually have PR though.

I definitely agree with you regarding job prospects being better in Canada though, things are a bit scary in SA at the moment; especially with the changes to the NRF grant system.

Good luck with the landing in Feb! Would love to hear more about your experiences after landing.

 

 

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CandD

@MuggleOnline In my lab we have many international post-docs and they have been going from country to country for 5 plus years with that elusive faculty position never being quite in reach, it is this that made me NOT consider a post doc as an option to start a life with in Canada.  My second degree (BSc) is in chemistry and if you have an analytical, organic/biochemistry with a focus on pharma then there are jobs by the boat load... I would say that all jobs I have applied for ask if you can work in Canada and without the PR (or work permit) the answer must be no and I think they bin the application if that is the case (agian I have no proof but just a feeling).  Therefore I believe once you have the PR things will be easier for you.  I will keep you informed of the progress I have made and I hope your hubby gets interviews for permanent posts and is not on the post doc wagon forever, I have seen that too many times. 

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