As a Careers Advisor I get interesting industry invitations sometimes. One of these came from Forensic Science SA . I met Emma who is a young dynamic scientist working there. I was really suprised to find that Emma hadn’t studied science in her senior high school years. I’d love to share her story with you…
Emma still gets squeamish occasionally, when she views graphic crime scenes on TV but not, funnily enough, at work.
A Forensic Scientist at Forensic Science SA, Emma is a Toxicologist who analyses samples such as blood, liver and urine for drugs and poisons. The best part of her work, she says, is being a part of the valuable team that helps answers the critical questions. Whether working on a criminal matter, or an unexplained death, Emma finds problem solving and working in science very rewarding.
Looking at her year 12 subject choices now, you’d hardly know that Emma was destined for a career life in forensics. Favouring humanities and creative subjects, she chose Maths, Art, English (received 20), Home Economics and Tech Studies.
Emma didn’t do science subjects for her senior years and didn’t even think of this career pathway until she was doing her gap year, working in hospitality. In Year 12, she applied to do graphic design in uni but deferred when she realised her heart wasn’t really in it. She confesses almost apologetically that watching crime shows on TV did have something to do with stirring up her career interest.
She enrolled at Flinders University and started with her Bachelor of Science aiming to transfer into Bachelor of Technology (Forensic and Analytical Chemistry) after she had completed her entry level subjects: Chemistry, Biology and Physics (which she achieved in one year). For a student who hadn’t done science in her senior years, she did very well getting distinctions and high distinctions along the way. Emma realised that the Forensics industry would favour further study so she embarked on her Honours Degree whilst on placement with Forensic Science SA.
Emma is now in a job that she loves even though her work can be challenging at times. “Sometimes it can be difficult when confronted with particularly disturbing or sad cases, or with complex cases where results are hard to interpret.” But despite this, she loves the sense of achievement that comes with problem solving.
Emma didn’t know what science careers were out there when she was in high school and felt she should have known more about developing her career interests.
The best career advice that Emma has for other high school students who are interested in working in a similar role is this: “If interested in Forensic Science, keep in mind that there are many areas that have forensic applications including Biology, Trace Evidence, Chemistry, Pathology etc.. Find the one that you would enjoy the most rather than the one that you think will give you the best chance of getting a job.”
I think Emma is a great example of high school students who are a bit confused about their career pathway but by taking time out and giving their interests a bit of consideration – end up on the right career track.
What about you? Do you have a good idea of where you want to go and what you could be really good at? If yes, great! If not, great too! It will all get clear as you think about it and explore your options. Try the free Career Quiz on this website to help you understand yourself better…