What are the careers as a physicist

Career with ... physics

uni: view: You studied physics at the Technical University of Darmstadt and are now writing your dissertation. Why did you decide to study for a doctorate at the University of Vienna?
Manuel Ross: First of all, I find the topic of my dissertation very exciting, because we are using the promising new method X-ray photon correlation spectroscopy. In addition, I immediately liked the working group "Dynamics of Condensed Systems" at the Faculty of Physics here - the atmosphere is really excellent. And I also liked the city of Vienna from the start, I feel very much at home here. But I will soon be able to complete my studies, with my dissertation I am, so to speak, in the final spurt.

uni: view: You also study economics on the side - for a special reason?
Horse: I am very interested in economic issues and I like to think outside the box. I do business studies by distance learning at the FernUniversität in Hagen; the flexible time schedule means that it can be easily combined with my research work.

uni: view: What do you find particularly fascinating about your research area or about physics in general?
Horse: The exploration of atomic diffusion and the new experimental method that we are further developing for it. It is a great privilege to be able to take measurements for our scientific work at some of the world's best research facilities of their kind in Germany and France. I also find it very attractive to present my results at international conferences in places like Istanbul, Prague or even on Lake Garda and to exchange ideas with other researchers about the latest scientific findings.

uni: view: During your studies you also gained some practical experience outside of the academic world of science ...

Horse: Yes, including internships in the USA and Germany. In New York, I worked on a restructuring project for the United Nations, which aims to simplify work processes and introduce a large, standardized information system for all areas of the organization. At the chemical company BASF in Ludwigshafen, I worked in marketing in the area of ​​evaluation and development of new business areas. And I gained a lot of insights into economic processes, especially in the communication and construction industry, at the student management consultancy icons.

uni: view: Which contents from the physics studies can you apply in professional practice?

Horse: It is less the content that is relevant than the skills that I acquired and expanded in physics, such as mathematical-analytical thinking, quick familiarization with new topics and a structured approach. The content-related proximity to technical areas is often helpful. The business studies naturally result in a lot of content-related intersections between acquired knowledge and professional application, whereby the practical application often differs from the idealized academic models.

uni: view: How do you personally rate the job prospects of physics graduates?
Horse: The physics course enjoys an excellent reputation because of its complexity and also because of its proximity to mathematics and technology. On the one hand, an academic career is open to the graduates, but there are also a number of other options, especially in business. The physics course is primarily designed to convey scientific content and methods and therefore prepares primarily for an academic career and less for a non-university career. Therefore, the challenge for many young physicists who want to start their careers in business is first of all to find the right field for them. But once this step is taken, most graduates look forward to excellent job prospects.


Physics is versatile and exciting. Hardly any basic science generates so much mathematically precisely secured knowledge and at the same time deals experimentally and theoretically with such exciting questions as "What is reality, space and time?" and "How do I understand the origin of the world?" All information about the course



uni: view: Is it important to make contacts while studying?

Horse: Yes! The exchange, especially with students from a wide variety of departments, helps to expand one's own spectrum and gain new perspectives, which is also of great importance for professional success.

uni: view: How did you experience the supervision during your studies?
Horse: Always as very good, especially when compared to other fields of study. The involvement as a permanent group member with constant contact with supervisors and colleagues leads to an intensive exchange, which is essential for scientific cooperation.

uni: view: What do you give first-year students in your subject?
Horse: For later professional success, it doesn't really matter which course you choose, that's my personal impression from conversations with academics at different career levels. It is more important that you have a passion for this topic.

uni: view: What are your plans for the future?
Horse: I will soon finish my studies and then, of course, I would ideally like to pursue a job in which I can combine my interests and skills, gain diverse insights and new experiences and have very good development opportunities.

uni: view: Do you have a dream job?
Horse: A high degree of variety and new challenges are very important to me. I think there are many professions that offer an interesting and exciting work environment. My current research is very fulfilling for me personally.


Manuel Ross studied physics at the Technical University of Darmstadt (2005-10) and studied abroad at the University of Bristol in 2007-08. Since November 2010 he has been working as a PhD student and project member in the Dynamics of Condensed Systems working group at the Faculty of Physics at the University of Vienna.