If you’re a hopeful, future genetic counselor, you’ve experienced reading the most daunting of application requirements –– “Advocacy Experience”. Your stomach probably dropped to the floor and the little voice inside your head whispered in a high-pitched tone, “what even is that”.
From volunteering to counseling, “advocacy work” can mean a variety of things. The variety of experiences you could partake in make gaining valuable knowledge a confusing endeavor, but that also means you can pick and choose where to insert yourself in the world of advocacy. You just need a little help navigating the terrain.
So what is advocacy experience? Generally speaking, advocacy experience is any type of volunteer work or job role where you can obtain communication and social skills. Most of these opportunities have you working with the general public or individual people, and are great ways to assist others or learn about people’s differences.
The most valuable and educational advocacy experiences stem from one-one-one interaction. These could include…
- Volunteering with a crisis hotline service
- Working with a pregnancy center
- Volunteering at a homeless shelter
- Volunteering at a shelter for domestic violence
- Working with individuals with mental or physical disabilities
- Providing respite care
- Working in research with human participants
- And more!
But how do you get involved? The easiest and most effective way to get involved is to simply Google it. Look up your nearest homeless shelter or local hospital, and see if there are any volunteer openings on job sites or bulletins. The institutions offering these services almost ALWAYS need more volunteers, so once you’ve decided what you’re interested in, finding a position can be a breeze.
Once you’ve found an advocacy position, the work you do will make up for the stress of searching. Advocacy experience can be one of the most educational, inspiring, and rewarding experiences of your life. Work hard at it, learn from it, and enjoy it!