I've been looking through a lot of member profiles and have found it difficult to find a close match to my own situation in terms of research experience. Specifically, a number of people here have done an REU, participated in NCUR or just managed to complete research with a professor/advisor (and in many instances have managed to get published). I was unable to do this at my school because of time constraints (I typically had to work 30-40 hours per week to support myself) and because I went to a smaller liberal arts college with only 3-4 physics professors (each of whom had a very specific area of research that perfectly matched with the skills of 3-4 specific students). On the flip side, I have managed to work at a few very significant scientific/research/engineering companies, including:
- Currently working as the primary systems engineer (mechanical) for one of the largest Aerospace DoD contractors in the US. The job requires quite a bit of my Classical Mechanics/Mathematical Methods repertoire.
- Temporary position (2-3 months) as a lab analyst/data analyst at a bio-medical testing facility
- 3 years as a tutor in Physics/Math at my University
- 6 Months as a private tutor (mostly calculus) at Sylvan Learning Center
I would like to get a feel for how well I could compete, all things being equal, with someone who has research experience of a more "academic" nature. Will I benefit from having a slightly more unique profile or would that be overshadowed by the fact that all of my experience is less relevant to graduate school than publications and research experience?
On a mildly related side note, I do have some research experience in the sense that I have completed a couple of senior projects. However, most if not all of these were in theoretical physics (e.g. Gauge invariance in E&M and Simulated Hydrophobic Solvations of Methane) and it makes me wonder if I stand a better shot applying for theory (due to senior projects) or experimental (due to work experience).