Concentrating in engineering or scientific disciplines at Harvard can lead to a diversity of career opportunities. You may choose to pursue graduate study to become more specialized in your chosen field, or to focus on teaching or research. Opportunities can be found in government laboratories and research centers, as well as agencies and political institutions. From an industry perspective, both scientific and non-scientific organizations value the quantitative, analytical, and logical reasoning skills developed as an undergraduate in the College.
There are many ways to use your scientific knowledge and interest in a variety of settings. For example, can you envision yourself advising a congressional representative on science and technology policy? Maybe you'd like to put your biomedical engineering degree to work developing medical devices or novel bio materials. Your knowledge of certain scientific issues may come in handy as a science journalist or technical writer. Are you excited at the notion of using your mechanical engineering skills to develop tools for the next space exploration vehicle? Maybe you have a certain business sense and would enjoy developing quantitatively oriented trading strategies for a major bank? These examples illustrate the many pathways available with an engineering or physical science degree from Harvard.
Plan on completing both a research and internship experience during your undergraduate education. Along with your coursework, the best way to explore a career in science or engineering is by finding laboratory work in your field with a potential mentor during the school terms or over the summer. Research forms the backbone of any scientific endeavor, and this experience will provide the skills and knowledge necessary for a future career. In addition, internships (ideally in your junior summer) provide real-world industry experience, which is directly applicable to future career paths. Consider organizations as varied as engineering firms, government agencies, biotechnology companies, pharmaceutical manufacturers, the energy industry, technology companies, or scientific consulting firms.
The junior internship is an ideal stepping stone to a full-time job in engineering or physical science. Employers also like to see hands-on or competition experiences (e.g. completing a design project, or participating in a robotics club). Plan to attend events in the fall, and look for a majority of job postings and interview opportunities in late fall and the spring of senior year.
Graduate and Professional Programs
Deciding whether to pursue a research-based Ph.D. program versus a professional master's degree hinges on your ultimate goals. In addition to speaking with an adviser at OCS, discuss this decision with trusted members of the faculty who have advised or taught you in a related discipline. Faculty are often in the best position to describe the academic and research components of graduate education and may even connect you to their colleagues in departments and schools across the country for further information.