The National Society of Genetic Counselors Annual Conference this year was in Columbus, OH and was the second week of September, which also happened to be the second week of classes here at Sarah Lawrence College!
In our program, second-year students are strongly encouraged to attend, so our class of twenty-eight students made plans for travel and lodging together. We booked an Airbnb that would fit sixteen, along with some hotel rooms, and packed into cars for a road trip to the Midwest.
The conference was packed with lots of interesting talks. On the first day, they have a seminar for first-time attendees…this is a must! Nothing at the conference has required attendance, but I personally thought this was a good session to set the stage for the week. This session provides an overview of the conference over coffee and desserts and is run by members of the Student/New Member Special Interest Group (SIG). Then we broke into groups where members of the mentorship committee met with students to answer questions about careers, conference, and/or transitions from school. It was a valuable event.
Throughout the week, there are breakout sessions that are separated by specialties. I found that the best thing to do with these was pick and choose ones that interested me. Then there are platform presentations. These are held in the large hall and have the largest attendance. I found that talks where individuals were invited to speak about their experience were really meaningful and were great ones to attend.
The symposium hall is something you have to stop by! This was where companies and research centers had their booths and where the research posters were displayed. This was a very interesting part of the conference. The companies all had “swag” to give out and some of the booths had special treats, photo booths, or other things. The companies also host sponsored breakfasts and lunches during the week, where they talk about new technology they have developed and how they are implementing it.
The Sarah Lawrence College genetic counseling program reunion dinner was probably one of the highlights of my week. If your program hosts a reunion, this is something that you should definitely attend. The reunion gave me a chance to connect with alumni and catch up with students who graduated in the previous year. It was also a more close-knit and personal event than some of the other sessions during the conference, so for me it was less overwhelming.
Finally, enjoy the experience! Try to take it all in, but relax too! It is only the first of many future NSGC conferences that you will be able to attend! This is just a brief overview of the conference with some of my tips throughout. For those who attended this year, feel free to comment with specific sessions you enjoyed or other tips for new attendees.