There are dozens of articles describing what a dietetic internship, or DI, is looking for in a potential applicant, but not as many detailing what students should look for in their potential program.
Here are 5 steps to increase the odds of applying to internships that are right for you:
STEP 1: Obtain the Applicant Guide to Supervised Practice (AGSP)
The AGSP can be obtained online or from your program director. It entails a list of all DI programs as well as their cost, location, requirements to apply, concentration and so much more!
STEP 2: Decide on a Location
Narrow your searches by first selecting a location that is realistic and feasible. Some students aren’t interested in moving, while others want to explore a new area. Regardless of your preference, you should rank programs based on somewhere you will be happy and can afford to live.
Current-Intern Quick Tip: Many interns accept jobs at hospitals where they completed hours during their internship. Consider if your intended program is located somewhere you are willing to move if you were offered a permanent position.
STEP 3: Determine the Concentration
Once you’ve selected preferred locations, further filter your options by concentration and program type. The AGSP details the number of hours dedicated to food service, clinical, community, and elective rotations. If you’re unsure of a concentration right now, think about selecting a program that equally distributes its hours.
Current-Intern Quick Tip: By 2024, all registered dietitian nutritionists will be required to hold a master’s degree. Decide if you’ll apply to independent DIs, ones which offer a master’s degree or even a DI that has a combined Ph.D. program.
STEP 4: Assess the Costs
Now that you have an idea of where you want to go and what type of program you want to apply to, consider your budget! Internships are an extension of our education. Therefore, students pay tuition and do not receive a salary (although there are some exceptions). Consider expenses for room and board, textbooks, degree credits, travel and conferences.
Current-Intern Quick Tip: Be sure to ask if program tuition is paid in-full or in installments throughout the duration of the program to prioritize your finances in advance.
STEP 5: Do Your Research
As always, please do your homework- the last thing you want is to ask the program director of your top pick a question when the answer is clearly stated on the program website; utilize all your resources! Be sure to attend open houses and reach out to current and past interns to get a sense of what the program is like.
Current-Intern Quick Tip: Don’t forget to ask if the program holds in-person interviews! That information will be critical when ranking your choices on the DICAS platform.
Every program will adequately prepare you for a rewarding career as an RDN. Your goal is to select programs that are a good fit for you. For each program that you apply to, envision yourself matching with it. If you feel excited, happy, and slightly nervous- then take a deep breath and trust your instincts because you’ve successfully done your part!