Considering a Career Change?

Considering a Career Change?

Michele Disco, MS, CGC, offers Lessons from Freelancing, Lighting Design to Genetic Counseling


The field of genetic counseling is expanding, as the number of trained genetic counselors increases and the roles for GCs expand. It’s an exciting time to enter the field. In the United States, the number of people looking to change careers is growing, due to a shift of interests or the potential for higher earning . According to 2015 and 2016 data from the Current Population Survey, about 4% of the total workforce transferred from one occupational group to another. If you’re considering a career transition, genetic counseling is a great option. 


In her article “Lessons from Freelancing, Lighting Design to Genetic Counseling,” Michele Disco, MS, CGC describes her career transition from a theatrical light designer to a genetic counselor. She writes, “Choosing meaningful and enjoyable work had long been essential to me.” Her career transition is a terrific example of how to successfully move into the growing field of genetic counseling. Here I try to outline some of the lessons Disco learned through her own career transition.


First, Disco encourages big picture thinking. She says it helps to be aware of where the field of genetics and the genetic counseling job market are headed, which aids in achieving desired outcomes. Second, she discusses working towards personal growth. She says that staying engaged in opportunities for personal growth is valuable and suggests that “learning a career is a lifelong process.” Third, networking is essential for clinical and advocacy connections, as well as social support. She talks about how networking in a broader field and with other professionals improves job satisfaction.


Disco describes how her own life experiences intersected with genetics and how that enriched her views as a genetic counselor. Within the article, she also comments on how the genetic counselors that she interacted with in her personal life, prior to her career change, all seemed to have high job satisfaction. Even though, as Disco puts it, “theatrical lighting design and genetic counseling may seem like antipodal career choices,” she reflects on the similarities between the two professions: “people in both professions strive to create a transformative space for their respective public.” While all genetic counselors are unique in the ways that the approach their patient care, Disco discusses some characteristics that are useful in the genetic counseling setting, including flexibility, openness to innovation, and a drive for self-improvement. These are traits that people can possess who come from a variety of backgrounds. Michele Disco’s story is just one example of how those looking for a new career have entered the field of genetic counseling and prospered.



Disco, M. (2016). Lessons from Freelancing, Lighting Design to Genetic Counseling. Journal of Genetic Counseling, 25(4), 681-686. doi:10.1007/s10897-016-9952-y