Applying to Dietetic Internships: What I Learned

The dietetic internship is something I had heard about since I was a freshman. I assumed it would be straightforward and something relatively simple to do, but I was wrong. Not that being wrong is bad. I think that applying to dietetic internships (DIs) is completely doable, but I think it would have been helpful to know what I know now – which is why I want to share it with you all!

** Disclaimer: These tips are from my personal experience alone and may have been different for others.

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Tip #1: It’s never too early to get started:

  • Essentially, by the time application period rolls around you should have enough experience on your resume to make you an attractive candidate. Experience is a broad category – do not limit yourself to work and school. Volunteering, helping out with a club or a professor, major projects you have done in class, or extra applicable classes you took are all things that should be included in your application. Keeping track of all you have done is also helpful so when the time comes to apply you have records of involvement at your disposal.
  • You may want to start thinking of who you want to write your letters of recommendation before the application period begins. You want someone who knows you well, who writes well, and can really speak about your strengths. A minimum of three is required, but you can do more if you want to have a specific person write a letter for a specific DI. It is common courtesy (and to your benefit) to give your letter of rec writer a good amount of time to formulate a strong letter.
  • Transcripts are also something to think about ahead of time. If the application opens in December, you want to request your transcripts ASAP because sometimes schools take long to process and send out transcripts. Additionally, you have to request transcripts from each school you attended. For example, if you transferred from a community college to a university, you will need official transcripts directly sent from both schools to DICAS.

Tip #2: Guidance is goodness:

  • The application process can be quite tricky on its own. Not only do you have to apply on DICAS, you have to go to the matching system on D&D, but also submit (via mail or online – depends on the internship) supplemental application materials to the program to which you are applying. Taking a class such as FN 431 offered at Cal Poly Pomona is a great way to break down the application process so that it seems slightly less daunting. I personally enjoyed the Q&A style of that class because our professor was able to just answer any questions we had about the matching process. She also brought in guest speakers who were internship coordinators.
  • Going to DI Open Houses is also a good way to know details of what each internship entails, what sort of qualities they are looking for in applications, and if the internship is even right for you! It is helpful to be able to network and talk to current interns as well to get a better idea of what their experiences were like when they applied and got accepted.

Tip #3: Tailor it to fit

  • Not all internships are created equal. Each one has their own mission, concentration, and is looking for qualified individuals that match them. DICAS allows you to submit multiple personal statements and letters of recommendation, as well as to designate which statement or letter will go to which internship. It is a perfect way to really show that you did your research on the internship and to highlight the qualities you have that they want.

Tip #4: Stay positive

  • Not hearing back from an internship can be devastating, but it is important to remember that there is more than one road to get to where you want to be, just don’t stop moving toward that place.
    guidance

Balance Your Worth

A few weeks ago a few different notices went out to Cal Poly Pomona’s’ Health Nutrition and Food Science student body about potential job postings and internships. It was a bombardment of information, and it sort of felt like when your best friend tries to convince you that the bootleg copy of Hunger Games is as good as the blue ray ultra HD version and they won’t stop talking about it. Well, this sort of mindset may be what is holding back some peers to obtaining careers that are intellectually and monetarily worthwhile. Think of it this way; in our field over 80% of promotions, or hiring to upper levels, happens from within. Now in retail and sales the opposite may be true, but we are neither. Therefore, it seems to me that the age old adage of getting your “foot in the door” may apply more so to our field than most. Now as a student, father, husband, full time worker, and social volunteer I understand how hard it is to achieve high academic standards while still taking care of life’s responsibilities. I too feel as most students do; that the first stop in my career should be worthwhile and monetarily compensating for the amount of knowledge and experience I bring. However, most times we over look great opportunities by focusing on the hourly wage or salary. We feel that if the number is to low, it is beneath us, or not equal to what we feel we deserve. At this point we should take a step back and realize that nothing in life is given and we must earn everything whether we “feel” we deserve it or not. As students we should look at the big picture and all the potential that an opportunity can bring. Many doors that we never knew where available can be opened by humbling our scholarly egos, and planning for our futures. Here are some things to think about, instead of focusing on overall salary of hourly wage.

  1. Health- Staying healthy is not cheap and parents can’t support us all. Certain job openings have above average pay (14.00-19.00hr or 48,000-52,000) with full health, dental, vision, sick pay. Even though the pay may seem low at first, consider the benefits of having full medical coverage. This should be a priority when considering jobs, especially if you are married, have children, or both.
  2. Retirement/401k/ect., ect.- If a potential job opening offers 401k benefits along with retirement benefits, then it should be considered. As the Baby Boomer population ages, there will be a flux in the way retirement is paid and honored. It’s best to stay ahead of the game, unless you want to work until your 80.
  3. Paid Vacations/Holidays/Sick Days/Flex Days- Many jobs opening have paid days off. What’s better that not working and getting paid for it (isn’t that called being a Senator…Jk…Jk). But seriously, this really helps out when you need a day for yourself or for other non-work related activities. It gives you peace of mind that you can “afford” to take the day off. So this is definitely something to be considered even if salary if below our expectations.
  4. Union position vs. Non Union- Simply put there are benefits to both. If you are looking at openings within school, state, city, county, or prison/jail systems then there is a possibility that you may be part of a union. This can be a huge factor in benefits and pay so do your research. It may benefit to take a pay cut in entry level positions if the benefits will provide stability and job security. Once again, unions can be good, bad, or just ok so do your research.
  5. Happiness- If the job seems awesome and interesting, and you won’t be bored then do it. There are always opportunities to grow, if you make an effort to make them happen. So be happy and even if it’s less pay you won’t regret taking a job that you love.

Now don’t get me wrong, pay rate is a big deal and is important when considering a job. Money makes the world go round, and I’m all about people getting their cake and eating it too. However, we as students need to focus on long-term responsibilities and endeavors, and consider other important factors that can benefit us in a job position. Till next time, stay classy!

Communicate, Converse, and Connect

“Put your money where you mouth is”. We have all heard this term used in different context many times before. But how does it apply to us as college students studying Dietetics, Nutrition Science, and Food Science ?

Communication is the key to success, and with emerging technology it is becoming a lost art. Some of the biggest advances in science, technology, and business have been brought about by professionally executed communication and connections between people. So why do we care? We care because professional communication and connections can land us that career we have been dreaming about since Chem 122 was finally over. We care because communication can open doors that didn’t have key holes. We care because our student loan agency loves to communicate with us, constantly reminding us how much we owe. Wouldn’t it be great to give a response!

As we start a new school year, we should take a moment to reflect on our long term goals.  We would all like to have that ideal career, with a great team, great benefits, good pay, and great work environment. We would love to see our knowledge and hard work compensated by a career that gives some zero’s at the end of our checks. We as students are at a unique advantage to use our positions to learn, achieve greatness, and earn a great career in food and nutrition. We will not achieve this without opening our mouths, expressing our concerns, ideas, needs, and wants.

money were mouth is

As students we at times get so involved in studying, writing reports, researching, and participating in school events, that we sometimes forget that  building a network of professionals can help us achieve goals. Yes, many of our classmates are truly gifted, and make great friends, while others are fun to chat with on social media. However, we have in  our reach a network of professionals who have long left the arena of student body and are now the experts in the fields we are striving to attain careers in. Can you guess who they are?

Our department has an eclectic mix of professors who have done everything under the sun and then some pertaining to food and nutrition. They have over a century of combined experience in all fields of food and nutrition. Some have traveled oversees for projects, while others have invented products, and yet others have done world renowned research. Some of our faculty has helped write text to bring fresh scientific fact to our textbooks. Can you name all the professors in our department? Do you know the names of the lecturers who so kindly help to teach courses in our department? Why not?! Our faculty is an abundant well of knowledge waiting to be tapped. They can help inform us on alternate careers that we may not have known about. They can mentor us, provide encouragement, and provide constructive criticism that will help mold us into the ideal professional. Our faculty may be busy, understaffed, overworked, and under appreciated at times, yet they never give up on reaching out to us as a student body. Lets return the favor and reach out to our faculty to help build our professional network of success. Say hello, make an appointment, do research with a professor, communicate, converse and connect. Yes, we are in a drought in California, but our departments faculty is a well of knowledge that is never dry. Drink up, the water is good here.

 

Here We Go

I have been wracking my brain trying to figure out what to write about for my final quarter of college. Last year (the 2012-2013 school year) when Food Digest came out, I was in a totally different place. In fact, I think every year in college has brought about a new idea of what I want to do with my life! So indecisive. But as I creep closer to finally being free of the school, work, school, work, eat, school, work, get 4 hours of sleep, school, work-cycle, I find myself so not ready.

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I will be graduating in June, then getting married in September. I have no job lined up, I weight 17 more pounds than I ever thought I would, I live 4 and 1/2 hours from my family, and I am simply hoping for the best. Well readers and friends, that is about to stop. I’ve taken you with me as I’ve explored food labels, delved into dramatic story-telling, and shared my love of cooking. Now I’m sharing a last ditch effort to get my ducks in a row before I start a whole new chapter in my life.

ducks in a row

Over the next 12 weeks, Jamie Eason’s LiveFit trainer will guide me to become confident in my skin. But that’s not all- I need to be mentally prepared for life after college, too. So each week, I will be doing something to further my goals of working in school food service. That may be signing up for a credentialing exam such as Certified Dietary Manager, volunteering at a nearby school, or finally going to one of the Resumaniac workshops on campus! Now let’s not get ahead of ourselves, this girl still likes to have fun. Friends and family are just as important to me as my career goals. Actually, they are more important.  So don’t expect an account of  hours spent in the gym; this quarter will chronicle change– the only constant in life. I have failed before, and I’m not making any promises that I won’t fail again. But “if you don’t leap, you’ll never know what it is to fly” (Guy Finley).

As nutrition professionals it is our job to help others, to inspire others, and ultimately, to change others. But we’ve also got to walk the walk! Health challenges all aspects of life: physical, mental, emotional, and even spiritual. And in focusing holistically on those things, I wish to catapult both you and I, into a new way of seeing life so we can grow more fully into capable people. Here we go.

plans

 

What is So Great About Gardening?

KohlrabiOne of the biggest concerns that I have as a dietetic student is connecting the foods that we eat to what they actually look like.  I read a recipe once and it asked for kohlrabi.  I had no idea what it looked liked, or let alone how to cook it.  In case you have no idea what it is, kohlrabi looks similar to a beet, but the bulb or the swollen stem is above ground.  The plant belongs to the cabbage family.  The leaves and the stem are edible and it can be eaten either raw or cooked.  The more young or tender the stem-bulb, the sweeter the flavor.  In my food service class, taught by a professor who was a Cordon Bleu chef, a class member suggested if we could bring fruits and vegetables that we have never eaten or prepared before and if we could learn how to cook these items during lab.  He agreed and the next lab, sure enough, everyone brought something that they were unfamiliar with.  During that lab, we prepped and cooked a variety of vegetables, mostly root vegetables and tried fruits we rarely would have tried on our own.  Although some students needed a little persuasion.  The variety of root vegetables people brought included kohlrabi, Jerusalem artichokes and a few others I could not pronounce.  Someone brought a beautiful, but funny looking broccoli called Romanesco, also known as a Romanesque cauliflower.  After looking at all the varieties of vegetables I thought to myself, “What would be the best preparation method for this fruit or vegetable?”  I was excited.  This was going to be a fun challenge.

Romanesco

In addition to trying to find new and different fruits and vegetables in both regular and ethnic grocery stores, I started visiting farmer markets more often.  If you have ever purchased fruits and vegetables at a farmers market you know the taste and texture of locally grown vegetables and fruits are unlike any other.  Apples just taste sweeter.  Carrots have that extra crunch and if you have ever tasted blackberries grown on the vine or tomatoes, you know the flavor profile is nothing short of amazing, for lack of a better word.  So I started to ask the question if I were to grow my own fruits and vegetables would they taste like this?  Well, I am no gardener, but I love food.  I agree with Alice Waters on that note.

So while I was at my local library I saw a sign for a seed library.  I thought okay, this is worth looking into?  So I researched the history of a seed library.  It turns out like the “Slow Food” movement it was also started in the bay area in California of all places.  No wonder California is the great hub for agriculture.  It turns out that if you buy certain fruits and vegetables in the store and plant them in the ground they may not grow, or they may grow, but you do not get the same or lasting results.  Why?  That is a different topic for another time, but to make a long story short some fruits and vegetable will not produce viable seeds that you can plant.  I tried planting a cucumber from seed and only a few plants grew, but I tried planting the same seeds from the cucumbers that did grow again the next summer and the results were disappointing.   So I was curious as to why my cucumbers did not grow the second time around.  Like I said, I am a dietetic student, and gardening is an entirely new concept to me.  I went to the meeting for the seed exchange at my local library and met Tom, our local master gardener.  He explained to me what an heirloom seed variety was.  The seeds that I had may have not been good seeds to start with.  Heirloom varieties are open pollinated seeds that are crafted by nature to grow in the local environment.  They adapt to their growing conditions.  Heirlooms include all seed plants and just as families past on valuables from one generation to another, also called heirlooms, seeds were saved and handed down to the next generation to ensure the health and well being of the families that cultivated them.  We have moved far from this agricultural practice, but people are starting to appreciate the value of saving these seeds not just to preserve tradition but to continue with genetic variety.  Tomatoes and carrots come in very many different colors.  The seed library is actually a collection of heirloom varieties preserved and shared with members of the community.  In the long run collecting and saving seeds helps to preserve biodiversity.  There are quite a few seed libraries, some in your local community and some are even online.   The best part, it is FREE.

If you are interested in learning more I highly encourage you to go to your local library to see what programs are available to you.  My library not only gives you the seeds, but it also teaches patrons how to plant, grow, harvest and save them.  All of these things are of course at no charge.  In return for taking the seeds, the library asks that patrons bring a few back to replenish and continue the work of the seed library.  The seeds that my library has include such plants as: eggplant, tomato, bell peppers and squashes.  There are a lot of questions I have about starting a garden, but I find that many people from all walks of life like to share seeds, recipes and words of encourage to help you get started.  If you live near Pomona and the Diamond Bar area the Growing Home is a wonderful resource.  You can check their website for class dates, schedule a time to see what is growing, take classes or learn more about the best practices to cultivate and maintain your garden.   Learning by doing it is a great place to start.  The information is out there, we just have to learn how to ask the right questions.

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Someone asked me why would you ever want to grow your own garden and how much can you really produce?  Well, I have lots of personal reasons for why I would like to grow my own garden, but my biggest reason was cost.  Do you know how expensive herbs cost at the grocery store.  I think  learning to grow herbs is actually a nice simple way to start.  The second reason and main reason I wanted to learn more about gardening is taste.  I can remember biting into an heirloom tomato and thinking, “Wow, this does not taste like the same tomato I get at the store.”   The added benefit of growing your own produce is that you build a connection with the land, people and your community.  There was a reason why cities had community gardens.  People could rally to meet and support each other, sort of what a Starbucks is for our generation.  In addition to meeting in the garden, you get to work in the garden, which means fresh air, sunshine and exercise.  Just think of all the Vitamin D you could be making if you were outside.

GardeningMy family came from an agrarian society before they came to the United States.  Sadly, my mother did not keep up with her families’ farming traditions and she will not be able to past down this knowledge to her children or to her grandchildren.  However, if we make the time to learn it now, between the both of us at least we can past down some basic information for future generations. Plus, it gives us more time to spend together besides shopping.  People tend to eat what they grow. So if you grow vegetables, you eat more vegetables.  As dietetic students we always stress variety in our diets.  Eating different fruits and vegetables also trains our pallets so that we are more experienced about what and how certain foods should taste.  The way I look at it, gardening is the precursor to cooking and we all know what comes after cooking.  Eating is a great opportunity to bond with strangers, so that relationships may blossom into friendships and friendships may turn into extended families.  This is the biggest take home message I have learned from dealings in the garden.