Bernard Hishamunda

Can you describe your career path and how it has led to your current work?

In my home nation of Rwanda, I earned my bachelor's degree in applied physics. During my undergraduate years, I also ran a small video library and engaged in making music and DJing. I worked as an IT manager for a few months after graduation before moving to Massachusetts to pursue a PhD in Physics at Brandeis University.

I did not only pursue a Physics Ph.D. at Brandeis. I also enrolled at the International Business School, where I completed science and finance courses that were comparable to a master’s degree. You may be wondering why a Physics PhD student would be interested in business. I didn't want to be a full-time professor, and I found that most people with a Physics Ph.D. who weren't academics were active in business in some manner. During my timeat Brandeis, I looked at a variety of careers, including pharmaceuticals, biotechnology, the oil industry, and consulting. I investigated consulting further because I loved the job descriptions, which included performing short projects of 3 to 6 months. This appealed to me because I have a wide range of interests.

I interned with IBMas a Strategy Consultant/Data Scientist during my fourth year of graduate school. They recruited me mostly because of my analytical abilities and business acumen. This internship opportunity led to a full-time job offer with the same company where I interned. Since then, I've switched businesses and am now working for a software firm that develops AI/ML technologies for B2B digitalmarketers.

I tend to say that my career path is not normal and not typical for a physics student, let alone a Physics PhD, but then what is typical? I pursued interests and opportunities I found along the way and learned knowledge outside of my area of expertise. As they say, "you don't know what you don't know." Branching out was my only way of learning and knowing.

What services and/or resources did you use while at Brandeis for your career search?

I utilized my Brandeis professors, who assisted me to the best of their abilities. Despite their limited network and understanding of the industry professional path. I also visited the Graduate School of Arts and Sciences (GSAS) career center a few times for assistance with my résumé and to inquire about internship opportunities. My friends, especially from the International Business School (IBS) and the Heller School for Social Policy and Management, served as resources as well. Speaking with students outside of my core program provided me with new insights and opportunities to learn about new subjects.

What skills from your Brandeis degree have you found most valuable in your current work?

In my work daily, I use problem-solving, communication skills, analytical thinking, and research skills. This shows thata combination of both hard and soft skills acquired at Brandeis are valuable even outside of the academic institution.

What advice do you have for current students as they embark on their job search? 

Branch out! Talk to people in the industry. Talk to people in different fields. This will give you an idea of what is out there. If you identify something that resonates the most with you, dive deeper into that. Attend talks, give talks, network, and then network some more.