Student Corner - Getting Involved
Students are encouraged to get involved with the NSGC as early as possible. The first step to finding out where you fit in the organization is to attend some meetings and observe the ongoing goals of various committees. Descriptions and information about scheduled programs can be found in the Educational Programs section of the NSGC web site.
NSGC Annual Education Conference
One of the biggest meetings of the year is the NSGC Annual Education Conference (AEC), which is typically held in October. Many students are apprehensive about how to get the most out of the AEC. A common mistake is to try to do everything. This may result in "burn-out," midway through the week. It is important to skim through the program guide before attending and prioritize which discussions are most important to you. Dress is typically business casual.; In order to get the most out of sight-seeing and to find the best cuisine, good walking shoes are recommended.
The AEC is sometimes the first opportunity that students have to meet counselors and peers from other regions. Some students utilize this time to network either for jobs or to find people with similar interests. If job hunting is important to you, it may be a good idea to prepare a resume and references ahead of time. However, many jobs that are available in at the AEC will be filled by spring, so it is typically premature to apply for a job at the AEC. The best outcome for most students is networking and practicing interview skills.
Another very important function of the AEC is to give you opportunities to become involved in Special Interest Groups (SIGs). Typically, designated times are available to attend a SIG meeting at the AEC, where you can meet members with similar interests and learn how to become involved.; The SIGs can also be wonderful resources for thesis projects.
Students should consider attending committee meetings and the the NSGC business meeting while at the AEC. The business meeting and most committee meetings are open and students can learn a lot about what NSGC is doing on local and national levels, what other genetic counselors care about, see and hear from NSGCs leaders, and learn how the organization operates. Committe meetings may also provide opportunities for students or new graduates to contribute to a committee project, which means you will need to weigh out your current obligations, and be sure to balance your normal obligations with any volunteer work on a committee.
AEC attendance provides a great way to earn continuing education units (CEUs) to maintain ABGC board certification. Specific portions of the meeting are directly tied to CEUs, including plenary sessions, practice based symposia, workshops, and minicourses. As a student, you cannot collect CEUs, so give yourself permission to enjoy the AEC. It's a time to explore, network, learn, and evolve. Don't be afraid to approach someone who asked an interesting question or gave a presentation you liked, because most experienced counselors welcome the opportunity to interact with their future peers. Sight see in the host cities, sign up for group dinners, extend yourself to meet students from other programs, and have fun!
Regional and Local Genetics Meetings
Another great way to get involved is through regional and local genetics meetings. These meetings are often more manageable because they are less expensive and not so overwhelming. These meetings are good networking opportunities, particularly if you hope to live and work in that region.
NSGC's Special Interest Groups (SIGs) can enhnace your involvement in NSGC and expand your career network. SIGs offer opportunities to increase your leadership skills, help plan targeted educational offerings, and simply meet other NSGC members with similar interests, areas of specialization or practice settings. Join a SIG and get involved today!