Would you like to be the next Horatio Caine?
Today I’m investigating how TV shows might be steering some in the wrong direction. So, CSI Miami kicks off with a race against the clock. Glamorous investigators (like Horatio Caine) dressed up in tailored suits, swarm the crime scene with rubber gloves and evidence is hurried to the lab where high-tech equipment reveals even more clues. Forty minutes into the episode and the criminal is apprehended and the murder solved, and it seems as though they’ve barely broken a sweat. In short, it makes forensic science look like a glamorous roller coaster of non-stop action, intrigue and absolution… and a great career path.
In reality though, what forensic scientists and criminologists do are often a far cry from what is depicted on television. They are rarely involved in solving cases and they wouldn’t often be called to interrogate witnesses. They won’t, for example, burst into a room with guns drawn to arrest a suspect (like Horatio Caine did in CSI Miami). In fact, they are rarely present at crime scenes. And the crime scenes themselves – well, they are rarely committed in glamorous penthouses.
The sad truth is that’s much harder to depict the wait it can take to DNA a suspect and it’s certainly not glamorous to show lab-coated scientists pour over run of the mill evidence such as cheap guns and soiled underwear. TV dramatizes real life – and real careers – so that they rarely resemble the job they set out to depict.
“When you are 18, and have to choose your career path, the only real glimpse you have into what working life is like comes from television, and your parents,” says Angelique Robbertse (Job Mail Marketing and Product Manager). “We can probably thank Suits and Law and Order for the influx of students hoping to enter the legal profession, and Grey’s Anatomy has drummed up another generation of doctors, but it’s not necessarily a good thing.” Even scientists have lauded The Big Bang Theory for increasing interest in their field – applications to study physics at leading universities in the UK and USA have increased 17% since the inception of the show.
“The problem is that students are being exposed to dramatized versions of these careers, start studying in that field, and then find that they have no interest or aptitude for it,” Robbertse says. “Being a lawyer is not about making impressive speeches in court, and locking the bad guy away. Cases can drag out for years, the compensation is probably less than you think and it involves mountains of paperwork, filing and patience… you are not likely to live the life of Harvey Dent after graduation.”
This motivated Robbertse and the Job Mail team to start an online video and Job Mail Blog series called “You Want My Job?” aimed at giving individuals a healthy dose of reality before embarking on a new career path. The series interviews individuals across a range of careers to give aspiring job seekers a glimpse into what the profession is really like. “We don’t want to dissuade anyone from entering a certain career path, but we want them to make a more informed decision,” says Robbertse. “Once you understand the skill set you need to have, and what your day-to-day duties are likely to be, you have a better chance of picking a career that’s actually right for you.”
Robbertse also advises individuals to, if possible, volunteer or take on a role as an unpaid intern in the field they are considering as a career. “It’s a great way to gain experience in that field – and gain a behind-the-scenes look at what their world is really like. You’re also given the opportunity to ask them all your burning questions.”
Even if you do not opt to join the field after your experience, you may very well come across the job you are destined to do. “You might volunteer at a large veterinary practice because you like animals and find that you don’t like the medical/surgical aspect, but you really enjoy the work the animal behaviourists do,” she explains. “It can only serve to open your eyes to the numerous other possibilities related to the field you were initially interested in.”
So, do would you still like to be the next Horatio Caine or will you investigate potential fields before actually getting into them? Leave a comment and let us know what you think. If you’ve found this information useful, feel free to share this article with your friends on Facebook and Twitter. Remember: Sharing is Caring.
Watch this space for regular updates for job seekers on the Job Mail Blog.