The Virtue Every Intern Must Learn

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"What makes me different? What makes me stand out?" For nutrition and dietetics majors, you might find yourself asking these questions when preparing for that important internship interview. These are questions only you know the answer to, and will continue pondering them long after you have completed your dietetic internship.

Once in an internship, we all have something in common: we need to show gratitude. Gratitude can be demonstrated throughout the whole year, even if you are no longer having face-to-face talks with your preceptors or professors. The Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics commemorates National Preceptor Month in April, but your appreciation towards your future colleagues should extend far beyond those 30 days. Gratitude is a feeling and conveying it is something truly special.

Now, as an intern your preceptor may not automatically trust you with tasks you believe should be handed to you. The keyword in that last sentence is "handed." In the professional world, you have to put the work into your craft and continue progressing and developing. No one is owed anything. Which is why a kind gesture or action can have a positive impact on your professional affairs.

One of the great advantages of an internship is gaining experience. Experience is a trait that speaks volumes and when someone intends to share it with you by discussing a lesson, exchanging knowledge or providing support, it is wise to not only listen and understand its value, but also to thank the sharer.

Therefore, when someone does give you a chance and pushes you to better yourself, remember their help. Their assistance shouldn't go unnoticed.  You can express your appreciation in a variety of ways. A simple email, a thank-you note or verbally communicating your gratitude for helping you become a better professional — and, in some cases, a better human being — goes a long way. Consider being creative and presenting your gratefulness in a personalized form.

People tend to fondly remember grateful individuals. Every time someone provides you an opportunity or lends a helping hand, let them know you appreciate it. Thank them for the time they invested helping you learn.

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​Heriberto Cruz Guzmán
​Heriberto Cruz Guzmán graduated with a bachelor's degree in nutrition and dietetics from the University of Puerto Rico, Río Piedras Campus. He is a dietetic intern at the University of Puerto Rico, Medical Sciences Campus.