Evelina Polyakov: from physics to the arts

Meet physics NatSci Evelina Polyakov, from Murray Edwards College, who shares all regarding her current career outlook

I am originally from Moscow. 

I lived there until I finished school at the age of 16. We finish pretty early over there, but in contrast, university undergrad is at least 4 years. Currently I am studying Physics via Natural Sciences at Cambridge, in my third year, and am planning to continue with the fourth year, known as an integrated masters.

I felt strong pressure to choose a more prestigious analytical path

Last year I was very fortunate to get an internship at Cambridge through the UROP programme.

This experience involved eight weeks of lab work and computing and two weeks of work in the lab with the strongest DC magnet in Florida. I certainly recommend getting research experience, but I personally realised research is not for me at all. Also, I found that ten weeks was too much, and I could not rest properly between second and third year.

Up until two months ago, I was doubting which career path to take:

I was considering working with startups to use my critical and analytical skills gained at university, or doing what I am passionate about – film-making, YouTube, and photography. It took me a while to bend toward my passion because I felt strong pressure to choose a more prestigious analytical path, where people would respect that you are good at maths, etc. This was one of the biggest challenges, deciding what I wanted to do and committing to it with thought, but not physically yet.

A career path in the arts could be said to be very unpredictable,

with more reliance on luck, but also on your persuasiveness and confidence than in other industries. For example, with YouTube – some videos just shoot off with 500K views and some stay grounded. While in some ‘City’ jobs there are more determined ladder-based paths that promise good results after hard work, this is not the case for the arts. But I don’t mind it, as in a sense it could be even more fun. I view it as less of a challenge, and more of a game for myself. And it is fun when you do what you enjoy.

I found it useful to make contacts with people in the arts industry

This summer, initially I was planning to do an internship in trading

– as I was just curious how it functions. But then I weighed up my welfare and another box ticked on my CV, and I decided just to rest: travel, make films, and I may be working on the set of a feature film (resting for me) somewhere in the north or on-set for some commercial projects in London. It seems like lots of students have made plans with their friends for the summer and my friends have not invited me to do any travelling with them, so I still need to figure it out.

In terms of my engagement with the Careers Service so far…

I went to many careers events but missed the ones related to the arts this year, but I went last year and I found it useful to make contacts with people in the arts industry, while walking around tech stands made me anxious and probably cemented my choice of not going into STEM.

Few people know:

When I was 16, I was planning to become a journalist.


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