Many young people have little idea for a career choice in the last year or two of secondary school. They then take a generic undergraduate degree, like arts or science, as they still have a limited idea of their intended career when they get to university. Some of them then plan a career, but it is not uncommon for others to almost fall into opportunities that come along. That’s why we were so very impressed with Rukmini, a secondary school student in Mumbai. When we came to know her, she was in Year 11, and already had an excellent idea of her career choice – working in the food safety area with WHO. She sought mentoring to clarify a few aspects, and now she is in Year 12, and has a clear vision of how she wants her career as a food microbiologist to develop. We wanted to discover just how such a bright mind thinks, why she likes this as a career and what inspired her and more. The transcript below, of our interview with Rukmini provides some insights into her career plans.

* Its not that common for someone of your age, at least not in Australia where I come from, to have a firm idea of what career you wish to follow – when did you feel that a career as a food microbiologist is what you want?From my childhood only I wanted to be a Research Institute. And as a subject I love biology. So one day I was watching a food series and Discovery Channel after watching it, and I had the curiosity that what jobs can I get which is related to both biology and food. So I browse to Google that what types of career paths are related with. So after searching for these, I got through a name of a career path which studied interaction between food microorganisms, and the environment to ensure food safety, quality and value. Food microbiologist also develop new and rapid methods to detect pathogenic and spoilage microorganisms and food. So by seeing all these things, my interest went towards it, and I thought it will be idle for me

* I understand you ultimately want to work for the WHO – what contribution would you like to make to the great work they do? World Health Organization supports countries to improve their health outcomes. World Health Organization works worldwide to promote health and keep people safe. So my becoming a food microbiologist and working in food safety department, I would like to make contribution to the great work they do. I would study foodborne pathogens and work on disease prevention and NGO food production abide by government regulation regarding food, health, and safety.

* Are there people that have inspired and encouraged you, thus making your career choice clearer? As I said, I always had an interest towards food and biology, specifically the part which is related to microorganisms. As my family business is in food industry, my father has inspired me to get into the career path which is related to it. And also Louis Pasteur inspired me a lot. Also, one day when I saw a YouTube video of Dr. Philip Button in this channel Food Microbiology Academy I had a lot more interest, and how can I forget, my mom always encouraged me making my career choice clearer and clearer.

* What do you plan to do immediately after finishing school and why? Immediately after finishing my school, I would do bachelor’s degree in food science, as it will open my first scope to become a food microbiologist.

* What satisfies you about a career in food safety? Foodborne illness is a serious threat towards health, food poisoning is a common public health problem nowadays. So I want to improve the foodborne diseases, which are caused by contamination of food. Foodborne disease is linked with the food safety department, just all about people getting sick and related to public health and personal health. So I think this is the area which perfectly satisfy me.

* Ultimately, what would be your dream job? My dream job is to make a positive impact on people every day. So I would love to work in World Health Organization in food microbiologist department.

* What does food safety mean to you and why is it important in the world? I think food safety is a practice that preserve the quality of food to prevent contamination and foodborne illness. Food safety is very much important to world because foodborne illness are preventable and underreported public health problem, these illnesses are a burden on public health and contributes significantly to the cost of healthcare. So food safety is a key to achieve several development goal and world food safety day brings it into spotlight to prevent and detect foodborne risks.