Tuesday, May 06, 2008

Too much CSI?

Thanks for Kean Jin for highlighting this letter in Malaysiakini. The letter was written by a student of forensics science who after taking this course in a local public university found that he or she couldn't join the Forensics Department in the Police Force or the Malaysia Chemistry Department.

The English translation of the letter can be found here.
These students, upon graduating, found out that they needed to join the police force before they could be forensics scientists in the police department. But many of them wore glasses and because of this, did not fulfill the eyesight criterion to be a police officer.

These graduates complained that in their opinion, it is not necessary to have good eyesight nor is it necessary to go through training as a police officer to be a forensic scientist.

Furthermore, they also found out that their training as forensic scientists were not sufficient to get them jobs in the Malaysia Chemistry Department (Jabatan Kimia Malaysia).

I have a couple of take away points from this letter.

Firstly, there seems to be a miscommunication between the university authorities who are offering these courses and the potential employers for these graduates (the police and the JKM). Given that there are a limited number of potential employers for the skills of these graduates, it seems clear to me that the university authorities (the department heads, for example) should have had better communication channels with these potential employers as well as with their students.

If this had been the case, they could have tailored their courses better so that these graduates would be more employable or have told potential students of the requirements of the potential employers.

Secondly, if you want to take a more specialized course, it makes sense that you should do some research in advance (asking seniors, checking employer websites) to make sure that you have the criteria to be employed. Forensics science is not accounting and finance or economics which are more generic courses and which allow its graduates a greater amount of flexibility when it comes to employment opportunities.

Thirdly, while I applaud the desire of these students to serve the country by trying to help solve crimes and reduce crime rates, they probably should not have been too influenced by the unrealistic portrayal of forensic scientists in TV shows such as CSI and its many spin offs.

I hope that this example doesn't dissuade our readers from taking 'alternative' career paths which I'm a keen advocate of. But it does show the need for us to do our due diligence before taking up a particular course.

14 comments:

Anonymous said...

I can only comment for Jabatan Kimia. Kean Jin is right. The basic training of a first degree is not sufficient to land on a job as forensic scientist. With an undergraduate degree, he would only be able to end up as a technician. He/she should have a specialised degree in forensic science. I have a friend who joined Jabatan Kimia 2 - 3 years ago. She did her M.Sc. in medical entomology in the 5-star university up north, specializing on molecular identification of flies. As most would have learnt from watching CSI, fly species and larval stages are widely used in determination of death time, location of crime scene, etc. I would suggest Kean Jin to go for an M.Sc. in specialized area of forensic science.

kean-jin lim said...

Dear Mr. Anonymous,

Good day to you. Just a little bit correction here. I'm not student of that course.

Have a nice day.

Anonymous said...

The reality is that there are no jobs for forensic sciences or whatever biology in the market. Those promises made by politician claiming thousands of engineers and biotechnologists the nation need are just plain silap mata

AAB should know....

Anonymous said...

1 of the good reasons not 2 study at ipta's, "so there seems to be a miscommunication between the university authorities who are offering these courses and the potential employers for these graduates"

the university sweet talk on 'bright prospects' on certain courses BUT IN THE END...

Anonymous said...

Kean Jin: I am sorry.

To the other anonymous: To put a blanket statement that there is no job for forensic science and whatever biology graduates is not fair. I certainly know there are many jobs available for entomology graduates. Try asking any biological sciences students from USM and they will tell you how certain specialization area in Biology is very easy to find jobs, while not for the others (eg. biotechnology, environmental science).

Fikri said...

"The university sweet talk on 'bright prospects' on certain courses BUT IN THE END..."

Every single college and university I have ever come across does this.

Anonymous said...

Those that do biology be rest assured they will die in poverty!

Anonymous said...

wow . that sucks . i was planning on taking a degree in forensic science at ipts but now i think its not worth at all . so , im asking for your opinion guys . should i take other courses that are available or should i just continue with taking a degree in forensic science ?

Kanchana said...

im a stpm student this year and im not sure what 2 say because it has always been my dream to be involved in forensics studies...
but now im worried about my future career if i take this study...

Anonymous said...

Hi all... i'm currently final year forensic student.. welcome to email and ask me anything regard this course..
my email: shyangheng@yahoo.com

Anonymous said...

oh god, im diploma in pharmacy student. all the colleges n institution r duin d same... ony sweet words while u r joining. while i joining in tiz course d requirement 4 B. Pharm was 3.5.... but b4 im finishing it is raised to 3.8 (mine is 3.76) n i only hav months to go.worst part was diploma pharmacy cannot pursue their B.Pharm in IPTA.... my loaded frens wit 3.4 wil continue in indon..... my bro suggest B.forensic science but now im rely worried 2 even consider tiz..... ony god cn help me i tink.....

SuMmeR_Ra|n said...

I just started my Masters in Forensic Science here in Europe under the Erasmus grant early this month. One of my assignments now is to find out more about forensic science development and job opportunities and HOW TO APPLY these jobs (if there is any). Sorry to say, I am surprised there is NO job opportunity when I searched online. And I could not find if there is any method of seeking for job opportunity with Kimia Malaysia. I hope someone who knows can let all of us know... Thanks!

NAZREEN CHE ROSLAN said...

Im really intrested in forensic science,
I was thinking on persuing degree in forensic sc. In USM,
Now Im a lil confused here, are u saying those who have degree are not-so qualified,therefore they have to take master ?

Anonymous said...

To become a forensic, you have to become a policeman and work your way up. That's what I heard. Forensic science degree is crap, many bright student jump on the ship and sank together with it.