Hello, and welcome to the Forensics Digest Q & A Session. Monthly, we will interview students and experts of forensic science on a host of topics ranging from technical aspects to career soft skills.
Today I have with me, Ms. Rinchon Sangkro, who is an alumna of National Institute of Criminology and Forensic Science (NICFS) and has qualified UGC-NET in her 3rd semester of Masters degree itself! Rinchon has her specialization in Digital Forensics.
Arpita : Hello Rinchon. Thank you for joining us. Let me begin by asking you about yourself and how, when, and what got you interested in Forensic Science?
Rinchon : I am originally from Manipur but I grew up and did most of my schooling from Shillong, Meghalaya. Having been highly fascinated by the world of Forensic Sciences, I decided to take up B.Sc. in Forensic Science from Galgotias University in 2015. I then followed it up with a postgraduate degree in Forensic Science from LNJN National Institute of Criminology and Forensic Science, Delhi in 2018 and would be completing it this year.
The mystery novels and the crime/detective shows that I grew up with, played a huge part with my interest in this field. However, it was a phone call with my cousin who had forensic science in one of her semesters during her MBBS, that really made me look at Forensic science as a subject that I could possibly take up in the near future.
So during this phone call, she told me about ante-mortem and postmortem drowning; ways to determine whether the deceased was alive or dead at the time of fire; and also talked a little about ballistics.
Right after this, I googled “how to become a forensic scientist” and found out that there were actually universities in India offering a Bachelor’s degree in Forensic science. That was the start of a whole new journey and I’ve never looked back since.
Arpita: That’s great! I think this feeds into my next question which is, How did you prepare for NICFS, which is considered the top institute for Forensic Science in India?
Rinchon : LNJN NICFS is, without a doubt, one of the leading Institutes of forensic science in India and so like any forensic student, it was also a dream of mine to study there. The entrance exam pattern for NICFS, i.e., IPU CET, has about seven subjects or sections ranging from forensic science to basic sciences to B.Sc. level mathematics to English and reasoning and for this very reason, I always advice my juniors to plan ahead and start the preparation early.
However, in all honesty, I could not follow this advice in its entirety. Since I was already studying, it was difficult for me to cover each topic of every subject in detail and I had to tweak my approach. For the subjects I was familiar with or considered my strengths like Forensic Science and English, I did a thorough revision of my course curriculum.
Also, I picked up a general science book for the basic science subjects like biology, chemistry and physics and a small practice book for reasoning. For mathematics, I decided to focus and practice only on the easier topics because of the time constraint.
Even though, I did manage to get into NICFS. I would still say that the best one can do is to prepare early and not take chances.
Arpita: That must have been thrilling, Rinchon! But yes, I would agree that given the high competition it is better if aspirants start there preparation early. And be consistent. Please tell our readers what made you enter the field of Digital Forensics.
Rinchon : Living in a technology dependent society, I’ve had my interest in digital forensics for a while but there was always a fear at the back of my mind due to the fact that I did not have a computer background.
However, coming to NICFS, I’ve had some great exposure to this field which got me even more interested and also had the opportunity of meeting wonderful faculties who cleared my doubts and motivated me to take the plunge.
Arpita: Your NICFS preparation itself seemed like a coaster ride. To top it up, you cleared UGC-NET/JRF during your Masters! WITHOUT any Coaching! How did you do that?
Rinchon : In the 1st year of M.Sc., all the major branches of forensic science are covered in the course curriculum, thus studying for my internal and external semester exams just became another way of preparing for NET paper 2.
Retaining these knowledge and information by making notes and revising them is an added bonus for paper 2 (UGC NET Forensic Science) preparation. As for paper 1, there are various study materials (for UGC NET Teaching Aptitude) available in the market. Reading through these and solving them gave me an idea of the type of questions that can be expected and furthermore, solving previous year’s questions would also be a huge added help.
Also , I kept visiting various websites to be abreast of latest advancements and yours is one of them.
On another note, no matter how much you prepare, there will always be that one question that is out of your knowledge area and as such, I believe there is also a tiny element of luck when it comes to NET.
Arpita: I am glad we could be of some help in your success, Tell us about your future aspirations?
Rinchon :There’s a lot of negativity surrounding the scope of forensic science in India and therefore, planning the future course of action can be a daunting task for any student in this field. But like the age old saying, I believe where there is a will, there is a way.
I definitely see myself picking up a few certificate or diploma courses or even internships to expand my knowledge and experience. Personally, I would like to go into the research field and get a Ph.D. in the near future.
But I am also open to various other opportunities that may come along the way in this long journey ahead.
Arpita : One last question Rinchon, Do you have any advice to students who want to pursue Forensic Science as Career?
Rinchon: If there is one mistake that I made, I think it was to dive in headfirst into forensics after my 12th standard. It was only after my graduation that I found out that most forensic science laboratories (aka our dream jobs) prefer students with a pure science background rather than a forensic science background, for a “forensic post”.
Moreover, B.Sc. forensic science students are not even considered to be eligible to apply to some of these posts and that, right there, is the bitter truth.
It is certainly not an easy career.
However, if you are truly interested in pursuing forensic science as a career, then I would suggest you to take up a Bachelor’s degree in basic sciences such as chemistry, botany, zoology, etc and then do your Master’s in forensic science. That in itself, will open much more doors for you.
Nevertheless, before you choose any field as a career, do as much research as you can before you come to a decision. At the end of the day, be it any field, where you end up will depend on your hard work, your knowledge and skills.
That brings us to the conclusion of the interview. Best of luck for your future endeavors, Rinchon !