B.Sc. Physics, University of Toronto, 1992
M.Sc. Physics, Simon Fraser University, 1994
Studied Industrial Design at the Ontario College of Art and Design for 2 years. This was followed by a year spent on exchange at the Center for Creative Studies in Detroit and at Pratt Institute, NYC, also for Industrial Design.
My first real job was as a web designer/developer with a tiny dot com company. I had a portfolio and an array of self-learned computer skills, but very little in terms of work experience. Due to the market demand for high tech workers, the company was willing and even happy to take a risk with a quote, diamond in the rough. My physics background, with its aura of geekiness, helped establish my technical credibility.
I left the start-up to help form a web development company. It's a very different experience - running a business, as opposed to working for one. There's always new challenges and things to learn - this is where my problem solving skills really give me an advantage.
While nothing sticks out, I admit to having the occasional physics moment now, yes, even though I'm not actually 'in' physics anymore. Away from the obsessiveness of equations and symbols and details of experimentation, I find myself musing about physics concepts and ideas, with a greater interest and understanding than compared to when I was in school.
Definitely the problem solving aspect. It has become second nature to me, but sometimes I am aware that I approach problems and challenges in a much more efficient way than most people. I tend to abstract and classify problems and concepts, and am thus able to build upon what I know, as opposed to starting from the beginning every time.
Ironically, they had been available, I just didn't know to take them. For anyone wanting to study physics, I recommend taking as many math courses as can be stomached. A better grounding in math would have made my physics classes much more enjoyable.
Outside of traditional physics jobs, I don't know that it makes much difference. It's more about work experience and having the right skill set.