The following is a guest post by a First-Year in my (Jade) program. We’re glad to hear from you, Sarah — take it away:
Graduate School. Sounded intimidating. Sounded like something that would be impossible to get into and that would then consume my life.
Well, that is what I thought when I was going through the application process anyway. After numerous applications (I applied to 8 schools) and interviews (I chose to interview at 4), I remember feeling like I would never get accepted. And, after reading the student biographies some schools posted (including my own) I was CONVINCED I would not get in. However, I made it, and I am so glad that I did.
So, how do you get in? That is the question I am sure every student applying would love to have answered. Here are 3 tips you might find helpful:
- Be Genuine. It is important for you to be who you are. And, you will be happier in your program if you are. Every program has its differences and similarities. You want a program that fits who you are. I knew I wanted to be able to relate to people well, so a strong psychosocial aspect was key for me. But it’s not for everyone and you will “feel that out” through the interview process. And of course, make sure who you are is reflected in your application.
- Dress the Part. This may sound less-important, but allow me to explain. Graduate schools want someone who is serious about being a Genetic Counselor, which is why it is crucial to demonstrate your professionalism through appearance. First impressions are crucial, and your attire is part of that first impression. So, dress professionally [blazer/jacket + skirt/dress pants]. Dressing the part makes you look like you really want a place in a program. Also, I would recommend a portfolio, so you can take notes, or write down questions to review for yourself pre-interview. This will also help your feel more prepared and organized.
Sarah’s Interview Picks: Long skirt at least to the knee, shoes with low heels, simple bag and minimal jewelry, shirt with a non-revealing neckline, and a professional blazer. Remember, if you wear a watch, do not keep peering down at it during your interview – you do not want to appear bored or uninterested!
3. Prepare a LOT OF QUESTIONS. Nothing was more difficult than running out of questions to the question: What questions do you have for us? Particularly since you’re trying not to ask every interviewer the same questions. You need to get as much information as you can, so prepare a variety of questions that also reflect the specific program.
My favorite question:
How did you get into this profession?
Another helpful tip:
If you meet anyone you love, or really “hit it off” with while at an interview, GET HIS OR HER CONTACT INFO! I am currently roommates with one of the girls I met, only once, at our interview. She was able to remember my name and find me online. And, of course, it is GREAT to know someone when you move 14 hours away from home to a strange place and find yourself having to make friends all over again!
Recommended Undergraduate Experiences:
- Anything in a healthcare setting (including volunteer work!)
- Any laboratory experiences ( biology or psychology are very helpful)
- If available, consider taking these courses: developmental biology, embryology, any classes related to cancer, cell biology, and an array of psychology courses [in addition to your prerequisites… of course]
Best of luck in your application journey!