Back when I was a freshman at American University, just starting my undergraduate journey, I wanted to become more involved in the field of nutrition. Our dining services were changing, and there was a meeting being held for people with special dietary restrictions about what to expect with our new foodservice provider. Being gluten and lactose intolerant, I decided it wouldn’t hurt to attend. This was the first time the university had hosted a dietitian on campus, and even though I was the only student in the panel discussion audience, I didn’t let that intimidate me from going up to the panelists after the presentation. We ended up talking for quite some time, and after I expressed my future goal of becoming a registered dietician/master of public health, they gave me their emails for if I ever had any questions about my career path.
After speaking with the panelists, my head kept spinning and I knew I had to take advantage of the connections I had just made. I sent emails inquiring after becoming involved with them on campus and, soon after, I was put in contact with the university's Director of Operations, who created a paid intern position for me with a campus dietitian. I was ecstatic about this opportunity to gain exposure to a college campus dietitian’s role.
Little did I know that inquiring about a possible internship would turn into a three-year job working with a campus dietitian. Over the years I was given more responsibilities, such as planning and helping the campus sustainability chef to facilitate monthly cooking demonstrations for about 100 faculty/staff, creating recipes that were put into a national recipe database, making food labels and highlighting special allergens, creating a weekly spotlight in the dining hall on campus and much more. All of the experiences I received were because of the dietitian I worked with, Jo-Ann Jolly, MPH, RD/LDN, whose guidance and constant support allowed me to gather one of the best experiences I have had in the nutrition field.
My internship allowed me to not only gain unique experiences early on in my career, but to develop a work-family that I could turn to whenever needed, and a bond with a successful, hard-working dietitian who is now a lifelong friend and role model to me on my journey to becoming an RD/MPH.