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"When I received the call about the position I was shell shocked. After graduating I quickly realised that the demand for jobs was significantly higher than the supply. However, I was fortunate enough to have won an award, in collaboration with my university and the local police force.
I studied Forensic Science BSc, which I hoped would be a niche career path, and it may have been if every Tom, Dick and Harry wasn't watching CSI! I soon realised that the competition for jobs would be fierce. I kept my head down, worked hard and was fortunate enough to graduate top of the class. This led to my lecturers putting me forward for an amazing award with the local police force. When I went to the ceremony I networked like crazy. I knew no employer would consider me without experience. I explained to nearly everyone that I was happy to work for free, just for a chance to experience the working environment.
Three months and three emails later, there was still no offer of a placement. I was pretty deflated until a got one of the best calls of my life. The ventilation system had broken down in the laboratory of the police force, which meant there was a severe backlog of work. They needed an assistant to come in and help, on a three month placement. I said yes before I heard the best bit, the placement was paid.
In April 2010 I joined the Fingerprint Bureau, and became a Forensic Lab Assistant. To say I was thrown in the deep end is an understatement, but I loved the challenge. The permanent lab technician was an amazing teacher, and within weeks I was working alone on a range of cases. I was amazed at how different the job was in reality as opposed to how it had been described in uni. I loved it. Again I put my head down, worked hard and really threw myself into the team mentality.
I obviously did something right. The bosses were extremely impressed with my work, and my temp contract was extended. I still have the position. Although I'm doubtful it will ever be a permanent role, the police force simply doesn't have the funding. The experience has been amazing, and I'm so lucky to have had it. Many of my friends are still unemployed and I realise available positions for graduates are few and far between. I plan to continue within the forensic field. I want to utilise my contacts and have been sending my CV to every forensic provider, whether they have vacancies or not. Life is about self-belief, I believe that I will achieve the career I want, and therefore I will."
NATASHA, SOUTH BANK UNIVERSITY
"When I graduated I knew that I wanted to work for a Forensics company. Luckily I secured my first job at a leading provider of forensic services six months after graduating. My position was as a service delivery coordinator in the Volume Crime department. In my first few weeks I was answering phones, photocopying and setting up case files for court. After two weeks of admin duties I was shifted into the Marks and Traces department which dealt with footwear, paint and glass examination. There I worked as a lab technician, a job which I thoroughly enjoyed and still miss to this day. I learnt how to prepare a number of reagents and chemicals which were used for a number of forensic investigations. The job itself was quite routine, preparing chemicals, stocking labs, cleaning, & updating records. However I felt it would be a great stepping stone to become a Forensic scientist. In addition the staff were very friendly and my manager was very laid back so as long as we got the work done for that day we could leave early.
I was there for a year, it took me 7 months to be fully trained and independent. Also working for a large company it may seem as if there would be a lot of pressure (well there is) but with the team I was working with everything went smoothly because we all helped each other a lot. A career in forensics is extremely challenging, rewarding and highly skilled. Although not the most lucrative of scientific careers, it is certainly well-paid, with excellent prospects and a solid career path. It is a job I would highly recommend."
NAJMA, BRUNEL UNIVERSITY
"I graduated in chemistry in the middle of the recession and was very worried that I would not find a suitable job. I applied for about a hundred jobs, some of them I know I was not qualified for. I attended four interviews before I got the job I am currently doing and I was very pleased to get this job. I work as a research technician for a university, not exactly the job I had dreamed about but I thought it was a start. I am now so pleased that I decided to apply for so many 'close but not exactly want I wanted' jobs as not only am I using the skills sets my studies gave me but I am learning so many more.
If I had got the 'perfect' job I would never have learnt about all the other techniques I now know about. It is wonderful to wake up wondering 'what am I going to learn about today' and head into work knowing something new will turn up. Sometimes it is just paper work and I have to learn how the university wants me to do something, sometimes I am asked to source training for equipment and I know that I will be attending those training course and learning more about the equipment. I have learnt so much about so many bits of equipment I never had a chance to use before and it is wonderful.
Now I feel when I decide to move on and look for another job, with these extra skills, my options will be open to me, and I will have so much more to offer a new employer. I was told 'sometimes the right job finds you' and that has certainly happened to me, my bit of wisdom for others would be 'keep your options open, don't blinker your searches, or you might miss the right job for you'."
JANET, UNIVERSITY OF YORK