From Trash To Diamonds

Rahad R., Chemistry Honours student

When I was a kid, I wanted to be a rubbish collector. It seemed like a cool job at that age, driving those magnificent trucks with their mechanical arms that can pick up anything. I remember my neighbours teasing me about it all the time.


My first proper thoughts about a potential career started in Year 10. For work experience, I managed to obtain a position at the Australian Bureau of Statistics in the Information Technology (IT) sector, helping people with their IT problems. This involved setting up computers and diagnosing problems among other things. It was quite interesting work and was different everyday. This led me to take IT Applications as a subject in the subsequent year.

I did enjoy certain aspects of IT but not all of it. Web design was fun but managing databases was not. Then came science. Taking both chemistry and physics, it blew me away how the world could be explained by empirical laws and formulas. How things we take as ‘intuitive’ could be rationally explained. I decided I would pursue it in university. Why not? I wasn’t really interested in business or medicine or engineering. I don’t think I could do something I didn’t enjoy for 3 or 4 years. Where science would lead me, I wasn’t sure. I was told that if one does well enough in their studies, they were very likely to get a job, regardless of their field. Whatever the case, I was finally learning about something I enjoyed. (Except for redox reactions, ugh)

For first year, I took mathematics, physics, chemistry and astronomy. I enjoyed all my units. Chemistry really called out to me. It is like LEGO at the molecular scale. You make things. You make them for a reason. Then, you test them. Do you have what you want? Do you have what you need? Go back and devise modifications. Devise alternative synthesis routes. Can we make this reaction green? Can this be done on an industrial scale? We got a side product; why? Why didn’t the reaction work?

Chemistry Beaker

While I also greatly enjoyed physics, I was not very skilled at mathematics. I settled on a double major in chemistry, hoping to get into research. I felt that this job would be different everyday. You’d get to work on a project that interested you. It would have real consequences. You’d be working with people who share a similar passion in discovering how the world works. I undertook undergraduate research units and really enjoyed them.

Right now, I am doing my Honours year in Chemistry. What next? While research seems the most appealing pathway for me, I will keep my eyes open on the industry too.

If you are unsure about your future career prospects, have a chat to the Science Careers Consultant, who is available every Tuesday 1-2 pm in the Science Lounge and every Wednesday 12-1 pm in Science Student Services. Alternatively, keep your eye out for Science Industry Week in Semester 2 where past Monash students working in various fields will give talks about the work they do.

Clayton VIC 3168, Australia

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