By now I am sure you are aware of the voracious competition for the (what seems like) scarce dietetic internship spaces that are available. After talking to several graduates and Registered Dieticians, these are the most common pieces of advice they offered. Best part about it all? You’ll find that once you pick up doing a couple of these, the others just seem to overlap.
This is something that we have all heard and know we should be doing, but the importance of it cannot be stressed enough. Of course other areas are considered during the matching process, but the GPA requirements are slowly creeping upwards. Also consider that many times such a large volume of applications are received for a particular internship, that applications not meeting a slightly higher GPA than the required one to apply, are thrown out as the first step in weeding out applicants. Furthermore, under a new requirement, the prerequisites for FN 357 (Food Service) have changed and now require a B- or better AND a 2.8 GPA in six courses we take to graduate.
Free services to help you maintain your GPA are available at Cal Poly Pomona through their Bronco Tutoring Center.
2. Volunteer and Be Active in School
Simply put: this looks great on your DICAS application. It shows that you have the ability to multitask, work well with others, have held leadership positions, have gained experience in your field of study, and are willing to learn. Although some of these obligations may be time consuming, they give you the opportunity to make friends, network with professionals, become confident, and give you the opportunity to explore different potential fields which you will be applying for after your internship.
Great volunteer opportunities are available everywhere– shadow an R.D. near where you live, donate a few hours a week at your local hospital, or some of my favorite (and relevant to our field) are Meals on Wheels and Hunger Action LA.
3. Apply Out of State!
This is an area that is always crazy to me. There are literally dietetic internships throughout the United States that are not matched each year because there aren’t enough applicants to fill them. After the DICAS (Dietetic Internship Centralized Application Services)matching period passes, a list is compiled of dietetic internships that were not matched. I was shocked to learn that some internships are left unfilled, while internships in the coastal states turn away hundreds of applicants. Take a leap of faith and apply somewhere overlooked. It will be a once in a lifetime opportunity and it is only for a fleeting period of time.
To see a list of dietetic internships offered by state, click here.
This is often an unpopular subject because it usually requires paying association fees. If you can afford the cost and spare the time, joining professional associations and organizations will give the opportunity to meet people in your future field– especially if you join local chapters. Use these opportunities to find leads for volunteer opportunities, jobs in your area, for letters of recommendations. Also, don’t overlook the chance that you might befriend someone that overlooks a dietetic internship and can vouch for you.
5. Any Extra Certifications, Courses, or Skills That Will Make Your Resume Stand Out!
This an area that is often overlooked, but it is something that will help you not leave anything blank on your DICAS application. Some sought after dietetic internships can have up to hundreds of applicants competing for just a few available spaces. Make your application better than your competition by acquiring more skills than them.
If you aren’t bilingual, learn another language. Try to learn a language that will benefit you the most, like Spanish. If this is something that doesn’t come easily to you or you are finding it to be too time consuming, try to become proficient enough to have a limited working proficiency (every bit helps!). You can try different learning tools to find one that works best for you. You can find tons of free ones online.
Join Cal Poly’s Estudiante Dietetico Program.
Get CPR certified– it is a fairly inexpensive and quick course offered year-round at various locations. Check out Red Cross for more information.
Get ServSafe certified– an even easier certification because it can be done online with a nominal fee through their website here.