I reapplied to grad school after getting rejected last year (fall 2014). During this year off I spent a lot of time thinking about career goals, but I couldn't find any research to do, I got rejected from all jobs that I applied to ( one that require degree+one that requires no degree). I kept going still. One of my plus points is persistence. =)
I applied to PhD physics for CME, I applied to a few masters for EE, and I continued applying for jobs. My career goal is to work in an industry (academia or not) that contributes to the advancement of science/technology. I applied for jobs that reminded me of the research I did in undergrad in hep-th. Of course the job is nothing like hep-th, but the thinking process is very similar with different challenges ( rigorous math not involved).
Present: I got such a job at a tech industry and I am excited about it! However, I also got into grad schools. After visiting a school, I met with PIs in CME/CMT and they all are brilliant people who do exciting research. None of which I understood though :/ I felt soo dumb because I often did not know what to ask.
I did read papers and their websites and I read articles too, but I seem to have trouble grasping it. I still enjoyed my visit. Condensed matter is an extremely rich field with so many opportunities and I really want to do it, but I don't want to force myself studying something because of the opportunities. I want to study something for the sake of studying it. Isn't that what a PhD is?
Is this the imposter syndrom thing happening to me? Even if I do condensed matter experiment, I still want to take quantum field theory, group theory, general relativity, and possibly a string theory course. However, I would have to find an advisor that would be okay with me doing that...One prof I met already told me that she does not like students just taking too many courses, but I still want to learn those thing. I wish I could learn everything.
Basically what happened is that I went from hep-th --> condensed matter --> Admitted to schools --> confused about what research to do in grad school.