Theresa Chisholm

Words Jess Schiro
Images Wayne Ye

I am almost tragically addicted to the American television program Veronica Mars. The show deals with a female heroine who juggles her school work while helping run her dad’s private detective agency.

So upon finding out I was interviewing Theresa ‘Tess’ Chisholm, who works at a private investigation agency here in Hobart, I was pretty excited.

Tess is 23 years old and was a university student before embarking on her super-sleuth career path. She got into private investigation serendipitously; applying for a job online that she felt suited her professional background in administration. As it turned out, the job was for a private investigation company.

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“When I got an interview… I googled it and it came up as private investigation. I was like: ‘No way! In the movies surely, but not here?’.”

Tess has now worked for the company for two years. When new cases come in, she is responsible for all the administration work pertaining to the cases. For example, she allocates the cases to specific agents, and researches the clients and suspects. She tells me an ominous warning about the pitfalls of social media, whereby anyone can gather information about another person if they do not use proper precautions. Tess has used the limitations of individual’s privacy settings various times when researching her cases.

“You can find a lot of information online about people. They tend not to set their settings to private, or they post stuff on social media. You can get a lot of information from social media.”

She also says that people rarely pay attention to their surroundings and are unaware of agents following them for hours at a time.

“We would follow someone for eight hours a day or five hours a day, shopping or doing their daily routine. People are just completely oblivious.”

As a result of her work in the private investigation industry, Tess now goes about her day a little differently than she did in the past. She is no longer nonchalant about walking the streets and she definitely checks her rear view mirror.

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Tess also leads a busy life away from work. She is studying a Diploma of Youth Work, where she volunteers at the Youth Arts & Recreation Centre three nights a week. She’s also getting married in February and recently bought a house with her fiancé.

Tess knows people are curious and interested in what she does for a living. However, she views her job a little differently and maintains that what she does is not that unusual.

“When I tell people what I do, they get so excited – absolutely blown away. For me though, because I’ve done the role and been in the industry, it’s just a normal daily job, go to work nine-to-five. That’s just what I do.”

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