I finally feel like I can breathe. I'm not done, but I'm almost there. My writing energy is no longer being eaten by Dissertation Monster (Thesisaurus?), so here we go!
In this installment of How to Finish Your Ph.D. and Get a Job, we'll discuss that whole job thing.
To find a job, I tried everything. I visited a career counselor, googled every combination of "physics research postdoc job computation theory" possible, scoured Physics Today's postings, attended on-campus and conference job fairs, emailed colleagues around the world, and stalked job posting sites at various national labs. I practiced my job talk (a one-hour seminar describing my thesis research, given as part of an interview). I bought my first suit, new shirts, and professional, sensible (yet shiny) flats.
I finally applied to about ten jobs. Most were positions in my field, but a few were completely off-the-wall (did you know that NASA recently accepted astronaut candidate applications?), in Germany, England, and all over the USA. At the conference, I interviewed with about thirty people for five different positions. One company had me stop by while I was in Washington to chat, even though they didn't actually have a position available. (They were really nice. Maybe in the future.) Four companies invited me to on-site interviews. Three actually had me visit for those interviews (two in New Mexico and one in California). One rejected me and one accepted me. One hadn't decided by the time I agreed...to take a position in New Mexico!
Did you catch that? I AM MOVING TO THE SOUTHWEST!
Sure, it will be much different than the Northeast, and that's a little scary. But the culture is a little more like the home of my first 22 years, the Northwest, and that's exciting. I signed the lease on a cute townhouse (no more studio living!) with a backyard and canyon view. I'm packing my cat (and parents, for fun) into my Corolla and driving across the country in a few weeks. I'm going to take up trail running and rediscover skiing. I might get a puppy. I am going to have a real job and a new life!