Physics degrees and problem solving skills

Problem-solving is one of the invaluable, yet difficult to measure, abilities that most people who study a physics degree develop. Soft, yet sought after, skills like these are often what sets people apart from the pack in the eyes of employers.

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Problem-solving is one of the invaluable, yet difficult to measure, abilities that most people who study a physics degree develop.

Soft, yet sought after, skills like these are often what sets people apart from the pack in the eyes of employers.

 

 

Problem-solving is the process of finding solutions to difficult or complex problems.

One way of thinking about physics is of extracting the greatest amount of information and inferences from a situation with little constraining information. The process, typically involving things like a mathematical proof, requires both creative and critical thinking, the ability to think like this in later life is valuable as skills-based in-process and repetition can be performed by people interchangeably, but the ability to find a solution where no technique yet exists can make you indispensable. The ability to find new, different solutions is incredibly useful to companies as this is how they maintain their competitive edge if they simply deploy the same techniques as all of their competition they cannot hope to outperform them.

 

 

Physics is particularly good at problem-solving.

This is because it is taught in a semi-canonical way, students are asked to recreate proofs and solutions that are already known but are allowed to do so via any valid method. Often the problems given to students will be altered slightly from previously solved problems to force students to create their own techniques and not rely on existing ones. The ability to take a small amount of data, apply limiting laws and cases and make deductions can be a huge tactical advantage. For instance, if you are able to show that a company’s profit predictions are consistently out when they employ subcontractors, by examining data using bayesian analysis, you will have increased the amount of information available to decision-makers in a way that no one else could.

One truly great benefit is the confidence it gives you in dealing with complex real-world, often unexpected, decisions in your future career, if you end up on a multidisciplinary team you may find that while everyone else is stumped as none of their learned techniques can help them resolve this situation, you are more comfortable than everyone else as you have spent the three years of your degree dealing with freeform problem-solving situations just like these.

 

 

 

In conclusion, it is vitally important that when choosing and studying a degree you develop as much as you can broadly not only in terms of direct technical skills.

Surprisingly you may well use these soft skills more often than the technical content of your degree, this is not to diminish the value of the technical content as it is crucial for a broad grounded understanding of your field, but it’s these soft skills that are of greater scarcity and will, therefore, set you apart.

 

 

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