Two years ago, I got my degree from a master's programme in theoretical physics. After graduation, I took some time off as I felt burnt out after completing my studies away from home during the pandemic. I was encouraged by my thesis supervisor and other people around me to pursue a PhD and I intended to do so as I truly enjoyed the challenges of doing research while working on my thesis.
However, I ended up spending the last two years helping out in the family business in an unrelated field. This was needed because of a relative's health issues. Still, I did not give up my dream of working in academia. In my spare time, I worked on smaller coding projects, revisited some basics and learned new skills thanks to online classes and workshops.
I am still motivated and passionate about doing science. I miss being part of the process of unravelling how our world works, and I feel like I have something to offer. However, I am getting too much into my head about the gap in my CV and have started doubting my chances after getting my first rejection. I understand that it might be difficult to get into academia now and that my application is weaker than those of candidates who just graduated.
Now, as to my question(s): Is getting hired for a PhD realistic after so much time away? How do I go about this? Should I try for an internship or an industry position in a related field first?
Thank you in advance for your advice.