Hi there! How are ya today!?
Today’s Tip of the Week Tuesday post is for my fellow nutrition guys and gals. I get a lot of questions about my return to school, dietetic internships (DI), and any advice for someone looking to become a Registered Dietitian. I also know that a lot of you find me by searching for dietetic internship info, in particular the Mayo Clinic where I completed my DI. So today I want to give you what it is you are looking for: my top tips on successfully landing a dietetic internship. I know I certainly would have loved to have had my hands on a lot of this information while going through the process! The internship process is scary and overwhelming, but rewarding beyond all measure. That’s why I want to provide a little bit of light into what might seem like a dark tunnel for any of you going though it. One day soon I also plan to provide a review of my DI experience at the Mayo Clinic for those of you interested in that amazing site as well. Boy was I excited when I say these words…
You can read about my excitement that day here.
So where to begin? I’ll start with a little bit of my background. If you’ve followed my site for any amount of time, you know that I returned to school after completing my first B.S. in Broadcasting, you can read more about that and my path through nutrition here. With a communications/journalism focused degree under my belt, you better believe I didn’t have a single science course to put towards my new degree. I was obviously off to a great start. 😉
I sat down in my first Anatomy class (remember, very little science at this point) with 200+ other students fresh out of high school, feeling rather old at my wise age of 23. Not only that, but I had unknowing registered for the harder (and I mean much harder) of the two Anatomy professors at my university.
Day one: “Dustin, I’m not too sure about this. I like nutrition, not dissecting cadavers at 7:30 am.”
I knew very little going into this journey. I knew that I loved nutrition and that I was going to be an RD. In my first few weeks of classes, I would hear other girls talk about dietetic internships and how they hoped they would get one, but for me it wasn’t anything like that. I knew I was going to get an internship and not at all because I was more confident, better than, or smarter than the other students; I knew I was going to get an internship because I was naive. I knew I was going to get an internship because I didn’t know anything else. It wasn’t until a few months into the program that I really realized how competitive the process would be.
After making a few friends in my classes and hearing quotes like this often, “The matching rate is only 50%, so there are only spots for half of us,” my research of what I needed to do to be in the half matched expanded exponentially. I started talking with my professors, talking with students ahead of me in the program, researching internship sites, and working harder and harder each and every day. So I got involved and did everything I could do without losing my mind, or at least only for a little while!
My professor and I providing healthy information to students.
A “Build Your Own (Healthy) Trail Mix” station I organized as the president of my Student Dietetic Association.
My Experimental final research project: we had to create a product and take it from recipe development to research and marketing. I created “Rebound Bars,” a vegan, gluten-free, soy-free protein bar for athletes.
Working in the local nursing home: hairnets NOT optional.
After an awards ceremony where I was selected by my professors as “Outstanding Student” of my major.
And while unfortunately the above quote remains rather accurate, today I want to help you be one out of every two that are successfully matched. You can see that through hard work and dedication the sky is the limit.
Ready as I would ever be for my virtual interview!
*Please note, while the information that I am provided proved to help me obtain my first choice internship site, every site and every person is different. Each director/site has his/her own personal preferences and requirements, therefore, I cannot guarantee that if you complete everything below than you will match successfully.
Here are the things I learned through my research and the things I did to improve my chances of becoming the dietitian that I knew I would be (this is a compilation of information from other students, professors and my own internship research):
Top Tips for Getting a Dietetic Internship
- Most importantly, enjoy each day. Enjoy the process. You will look back one day and smile at this particular time in your life. You are learning, growing, being challenged and changed more than imaginable.
- Want it. If you want it badly enough, you will get it/do it.
- Start researching internships early on in your college career. This way you will know exactly what the internship site is looking for and you will still have time to do it. This takes a lot of stress off of your senior year too!
- Be diverse in your commitments: volunteer, work a job, be involved in your university (and your student dietetic association, or whatever your university calls it), conduct research with your professors, etc.
- Volunteer, volunteer, volunteer. But not just for the sake of building your resume. Find a niche or a field you are passionate about and give it your all. This way you are not only giving back, but you are creating memories, stories and experiences that will provide awesome conversation in the interview process as well. It’s a lot easier to talk about something that you have put time, effort and passion into, rather than starting a story with, “Well, one time…” A friend once told me that the
- GPA is important… starting in English 101. It’s a lot easier to bring your GPA down than it is to bring it up. Focus on what is important. Study. Most of the information you learn as an undergraduate nutrition student becomes a base for what you will learn over time. Build a strong foundation.
- Provide great references.
- Be passionate (and find a way to show it without using that word). Don’t just tell someone you are passssssionate, show them. Everyone can say they are passionate but what does that even mean? Obviously you are passionate about nutrition or you wouldn’t be devoting your career toward it and striving to become an RD (hopefully!).
- Create an AMAZING personal statement. This is the only way you will stand out on paper. Let your personality shine through. Be yourself. Let the directors see the real you. You want them to remember you for something, even if it seems silly or tirvial to you. Be professional but be real. Oh yeah, and equally important, proofread it one hundred plus times and have others do the same. You don’t want a grammatical error to be the reason your application was tossed in the trash.
- Start working on your application and personal statement early. This way, you aren’t cramming (scramming?) to get your application turned in and you can really take your time in making sure it is completed to the best of your ability.
I certainly hope this helps you through the internship process!
And to my fellow Registered Dietitians or current dietetic interns: any other tips out there you would add to this list!? If so, please share!
Have a wonderful afternoon!