Why is a physics major working in sales and marketing? That’s a good question, and one I’ve gotten several times over the past year. I like that I’m different and that I’m taking an unorthodox route, but I certainly didn’t plan for it to happen this way.
When I applied to college, I wasn’t very sure of what I wanted to do after graduating. But I figured I would go to grad school, get my PhD, and become a professor, which was what I’ve wanted to do since I was a kid. But the summer after sophomore year, I started thinking about how I’d never done anything but work in labs every summer, and I figured if I was going to take some time in my life and explore, it had better be now. So I decided that that summer, I would only do things I had never done before.
It was a great decision in retrospect. I spent half the summer working in the science education division at the Smithsonian, where I figured out that I loved what I was doing but I was really frustrated with the system I was working in, which was just slow and bureaucratic and made me feel like no matter how much talent you had you weren’t going to get much done. Then I spent the second half of the summer working at a gaming startup and it was the complete opposite. It was fast-paced, responsive, and you felt that you could see the effects of your work immediately. And to top it off, somehow despite the fact that I was a physics major who’d never done any marketing before, and I was doing marketing, I actually did a good job. So I started thinking this was something I should explore and learn more about and figure out if it was right for me. It turned out my boss, who was the VP of marketing, had been a chemistry major in undergrad—so I figured, if he could make the switch, so can I!
I spent the next two semesters trying to take some classes that sort of bridged science and business. And I tried to find another internship in a startup for this summer, preferably in sales and marketing. One of my professors had really emphasized the importance of sales in a startup, and I figured it’d be a good skill to pick up, or at least something to learn more about. Needless to say, I really lucked out with TEC.