Can You Get an Internship in Forensic Toxicology?

Forensic ToxicologyMost toxicology students complete internships before starting their careers, and a university’s society of toxicologists usually offers an internship in forensic toxicology among the choices. These internships take place in all of the common forensic toxicology work environments, including drug testing clinics, medical examiners and law enforcement agencies. Forensic toxicology differs from general toxicology in that it is used to determine the role that blood toxins play in crimes. General toxicology is not restricted to crime scene investigations and includes research into all toxins, such as drugs, poison and diseases.

Forensic toxicology internships usually last all summer or one full semester, and some of them pay interns a small amount. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, Interns work under the supervision of an employee of the agency or clinic training them, and they perform tasks such as blood tests, urinalysis, gas chromatography and studying blood slides under a microscope. In addition to studying evidence of toxins in the body, forensic toxicologists consider other information known about a crime to fill in the gaps in the evidence. For example, because heroin immediately breaks down in the body, it can’t be properly studied with body fluid tests. Therefore, investigators must look for needle marks and other signs of long-term drug use to determine the exact cause of death.

How to Get an Internship in Forensic Toxicology

Most internships are arranged through the university by students, professors and alumni involved in a department. Forensic toxicology internships are usually mixed with all internships available for toxicology students, so you must talk to a professor or student leader to obtain a list of internships and then pick out the ones that apply to your career choice. This information is usually also listed on your university’s website, and you may be able to find a link to it by searching for your particular department or a professor’s personal page.

To get accepted for an internship, you must meet the requirements of the agency or clinic offering the position. These requirements usually stipulate a minimum GPA but also may include a minimum of credit hours completed, work experience and a background check. You must apply by the deadline set by the company offering the internship, and you should apply for as many positions as you find interesting to ensure that you’re selected for one of them. The best way to ensure you get the internship you want is to keep your GPA as high as possible.

How to Succeed in a Forensic Toxicology Internship

The best advice for forensic toxicology interns is the advice that applies to interns in all fields. The purpose of an internship is to learn how to work in a professional setting so that you’re ready to start a new job after graduation. Unfortunately, some companies place interns below employees who treat the interns as unpaid assistants rather than trainees. You should be learning new concepts every day of your internship; if you find yourself pouring coffee and making trips to the store, talk to your supervisor in a friendly way to make sure you’re included in the toxicology tests and crime investigations.

Related Resource: Criminology Internship

Forensic toxicology is a highly popular occupation, and the rewards and challenges are some of the most exciting in the life sciences. Before you begin your career, make sure to do you best to get into a valuable internship in forensic toxicology.