I majored in physics as an undergraduate. Then I graduated into a recession and was unemployed for a very long time. I had to live with my parents for about a year after graduation. It was horrible. So in graduate school I switched to biomedical engineering. The latter is a much better choice. My career has been much better in biomedical engineering and health informatics. Another option is renewable energy or green energy for engineering. Both are in demand. Physics alone is tough for jobs because it's too theoretical. But other physics-related majors are great. Radiology is an excellent example.
If I had known all those recessions were going to happen, this is what I would have done (in hindsight).
(1) Get an associate's degree 1st in radiology tech or MRI tech so that I can quickly get a job at a hospital radiology department whenever I want while working on the bachelor's degree after getting the associate's degree. Those radiology techs are in very high demand with reasonably good pay for the undergraduate age group. Other good associate's degrees include medical billing and allied health. Jobs are easy to find if you choose the right associate's program.
(2) Work with the associate's degree in radiology (or another good choice) while earning a bachelor's in biomedical engineering. While taking courses, plan each semester such that the courses relate to high-demand topics in the working world.
(3) Find the high-demand skills in the working world by doing searches at www.dice.com.
(4) On dice.com, do searches with key words that interest you such as the following:
* medical physics
* medical device
* mechanical engineering,
(5) From the searches, you will see specific skills that are in demand but not often mentioned in school. For example, here are some for biomedical engineering: GMP, 21 CFR Part 11, part 820, regulatory affairs, FDA valildation, EPIC, EMR, HL7, .Net, six sigma black belt, etc.
(6) So while earning the bachelor's try to find professors and courses that educate you on those specific working world topics found from (3) to (5).
(7) Graduate with a bachelor's degree. Do a job search your senior year and apply to as many jobs as possible. Make sure each resume is adapted to each job. I usually try to make page 1 match the project for each job specifically. Don't send the same resume to hundreds of job openings. Recruiters spot that pretty quick and can just ignore it.
(8) For added job skills, get a quick master's in these areas that are work-specific and in demand.
* Master's of Regulatory Affairs - useful for medical physics and devices
* Master's of Business Intelligence - useful for data analysis
* Master's of Engineering Management - great for real-world applications
* Master's of Medical Informatics - excellent for healthcare technology
* Master's of Systems Engineering - often shows up on job searches for dice.com.
* There are other examples ...
(9) While in school, also keep a strong social life to develop good interpersonal skills. Join clubs an play intramural sports. Stay healthy and physically fit. Employers also take health into account even if they don't say it. An engineer who is on the verge of diabetes and looks like he sits all day will likely be evaluated negatively compared to a similar engineer who is reasonably fit, plays campus intramural sports, and has good interpersonal skills. That leads to (10).
(10) Take courses in written and verbal communication. Learn technical writing with Unified Modeling Language. Give as many powerpoint presentations as you can - learn to speak in front of a large group comfortably.
This would have been my plan. As a young undergraduate, I would just start out by looking at the job skills in demand on dice.com. Use it to build a plan for a switch of major, courses, and graduate school. The associate's degree is not necessary, but I know it would help a lot to pay bills during a recession. Healthcare credentials are in demand. The associate's degree in healthcare technology would also expedite early work experience. By the time you get the bachelor's you could have 2-3 years of experience in radiology or another field of interest. Work experience counts a long way in job searches after the bachelor's degree is earned. In conclusion, I would not have majored in physics as an undergraduate if I knew back then what I know now.
Here is an example of a good job search on dice for biomedical engineering. http://seeker.dice.com/jobsearch/servlet/JobSearch?op=300&N=0&Hf=0&NUM_PER_PAGE=30&Ntk=JobSearchRanking&Ntx=mode+matchall&AREA_CODES=&AC_COUNTRY=1525&QUICK=1&ZIPCODE=&RADIUS=64.37376&ZC_COUNTRY=0&COUNTRY=1525&STAT_PROV=0&METRO_AREA=33.78715899,-84.39164034&TRAVEL=0&TAXTERM=0&SORTSPEC=0&FRMT=0&DAYSBACK=30&LOCATION_OPTION=2&FREE_TEXT=medical+device&WHERE=