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How to reach out to a GC for shadowing or an informational interview

Genetic counseling graduate programs require applicants to have exposure to genetic counseling. One of the best ways to gain firsthand exposure in the field is to shadow a genetic counselor or to conduct informational interviews. Many applicants feel nervous reaching out to genetic counselors you find online and get discouraged if a genetic counselor doesn't respond. This post will equip you with the information you need to reach out to GCs confidently and an email template that will give you the best chance of getting a response.

While most genetic counselors are very receptive to contact from GC hopefuls and enjoy providing genetic counseling exposure when possible, we are also busy professionals who need to carve out time for student interactions. We may need to work late in order to make-up for the time we spend meeting with a student for an informational interview or the slowed pace of a day when a student is along for the ride to shadow. Generally, we are happy to do this, but it helps when a student is appreciative, engaged, has specific questions, and shows awareness of the time commitment we are making to them.

Below is an email template that you can modify and send to genetic counselors you are interested in shadowing or interviewing. If you spend a few minutes personalizing each email and including some specific details about your inquiry, you are more likely to get a response. I've received many emails from interested GC hopefuls and I am always quicker to respond to students who recognize the time commitment they are asking for and those who know a little bit about me, as opposed to students who send one sentence emails that state, "Do you think I could shadow you? I need gc exposures."

Email Draft

Hi xxx,

My name is x and I'm planning to apply to genetic counseling programs for 2023 admission. I found your contact on X and am reaching out to see if you would be open to an informational interview/ able to offer job shadowing. I am interested in learning more about pediatric genetic counseling (insert specialty/company/something that sparks your interest about this GC and try to be specific) because I have a cousin who was diagnosed with a rare genetic disease and I'd like to understand how a genetic counselor is part of the diagnostic process (just an example, but state why you want to learn more or allude to what you'd like to ask about). While I have taken all the necessary prerequisite courses and gained some counseling experience, I am still trying to better understand the role of a genetic counselor in X setting in preparation for applying to school. I appreciate your time in reading this email and hope to hear back from you soon.



Where to Find GCs

Here are three easy ways to find genetic counselors.

  1. Attend webinars and follow GCs on twitter or other social media platforms. If you listen to a lecture. Read papers from the Journal of Genetic Counseling. When you come across content from a GC that interests you, find their contact and reach out to them. If you are able to reference their paper or talk, that will be a great jumping off point.

  2. The National Society of Genetic Counselors offers a Find a Genetic Counselor page where you can identify GCs with certain specialties and in different cities. This is a great place to find contact info for GCs.

  3. Connections- Do you have a family member or friend who works with a genetic counselor? Do you see a doctor who works with a GC? Ask if they will connect you.

Once you identify a few genetic counselors you would like to connect with, modify the email template I provided, proofread it, and hit send! You'll be talking with a genetic counselor before you know it.

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