The Big Picture
Sam studied for a MPhys Physics at the University of Hull, he completed a number of internships after graduating and then was offered a job at Luxinar as an Applications Engineer.
After Sam graduated he applied for a number of PhD positions as he wanted to pursue his physics research further but unfortunately he was rejected. Whilst thinking he would have to return to his previous part-time job at a service station, he was contacted by his University supervisor who informed Sam about an unpaid internship opportunity at the University, which he applied for and was successful in being offered. This lead to another short-term paid internship also at the University. He recognised the valuable experience from these placements. Around that time Luxinar were looking for someone to work on their lasers, they had links with the University of Hull and were particularly looking for a recent graduate.
The Application Process
Sam applied to Luxinar and emphasised how he:
“…mentioned the internships and real world experience which is always useful. Employers are always looking for some experience, so you’re not going in there blind.”
He was successful in getting through to the next stage of the application process. This involved three interviews: the first one with one of the Directors and the Global Sales Manager and the second interview asked questions about Sam’s thought processes and how he approached problem solving. The final interview was more of a conversation around why he should work at the company. Whilst his understanding of lasers was quite low as he had only completed one module on optics, Sam felt that the skills he gained through his degree and internships, how to logically approach solutions, helped him to get the job at Luxinar.
The Learning Curve
The internships helped Sam develop problem-solving skills. This is something especially important in his current job as it involves solving a different kind of problem every day and it is something he particularly enjoys. Sam says:
“Without the internship I wouldn’t have transitioned well as there was a lot more stress and work to be solved when compared to the graduate role, where it’s a lot more relaxed but there is still a lot of pressure.”
Sam applied for a number of PhD positions as he was planning to continue into academia or possibly eventually into R&D, however he was rejected for the roles. He found this quite disheartening, and felt he was going to be stuck working at the service station. However once working on the internship he realised that it was definitely the type of work he wanted to do going forward and it cemented the fact that he didn’t want to go back to what he was doing before.
Day to Day
Sam states: “I spend my entire day finding solutions to problems.”
His role is focused on problem solving, which is something he particularly enjoys and is why he originally chose to study physics. He relishes the opportunity to work through problems and develop solutions and answers.
Sam’s advice to current undergraduates is that employers are looking for someone who has experience, who is a rounded individual, who can fit into that workplace, but also bring something new to the company.
“Apply to loads of places, don’t just go for the one you really want. Chances are there are a load of other people who really want it too. And you may not be the perfect fit for one thing, but you will find something out there, there’s always the next thing to apply for or discover and you may find the thing you wanted all the time is not the best for you.“
He also recommended joining societies at University to provide an opportunity to meet new people with different opinions and experiences. Sam states that demonstrating a broad perspective is important for businesses are looking for new employees.
Luxinar manufactures sealed carbon dioxide (CO2) and femtosecond laser sources for industrial applications. The company has been at the forefront of laser technology for over 20 years, installing over 20,000 lasers worldwide in industrial applications environments.
The Next Step
Sam enjoys the work and is currently happy at Luxinar, acknowledging that he’s well paid and has a good work-life balance. He feels that he learns something new everyday, finding different solutions to problems. Sam states that the most important thing, when looking for a job is:
“Finding something that you don’t just tolerate but can actually enjoy, you’re always going to get frustrated over different parts of the job and always going to have difficult days but if overall you’re happy where you are that is often worth a lot more than you think. You can earn alot higher pay doing something you hate.”