It’s the day toward which all dietetic interns countdown: the last day of their internship. For the past six to 12 months (depending how long your program was) you were told where to go, what to do, even what to wear. So, other than obviously preparing for the registration exam, what happens next? Panic, anxiety, fear of not passing the exam and never getting a job? Unfortunately, you will experience those feelings. However, you can control to what extent they will impact you.
Taking the Exam
You studied hard for years to get the internship, so there’s no doubt you’re going to study hard for the exam. The good part about this exam is that you’ve heard this stuff before — think of it as a comprehensive final. There are numerous resources to help you prepare, no matter your learning style. From flashcards to computer programs and even audio. Get what you need, go to your favorite study spot and get to it.
Navigating the Job Jungle
When searching for jobs, read the descriptions carefully. Your first job is an opportunity to further expand on the skills and knowledge you learned during your internship. It should be a place that will help you become a better registered dietitian nutritionist, whether it’s through on-the-job-training, continuing education or leadership opportunities. Keep in mind which field you want to work in. If you love educating clients and seeing them reach goals, consider outpatient or community openings. Look at clinical positions if you enjoy learning about disease processes and working with interdisciplinary teams. For those who enjoy human relations and solving problems, consider foodservice management.
Enjoy Your Free Time
During the internship, you may have had to cut back on doing the things you love because there wasn’t enough time. Now is the time to start doing those things again, whether it’s traveling, volunteering or just spending more time with family and friends.
Proud, accomplished and excited for the future. Those are the feelings that you should experience. Don’t think of this time as the end of the internship — think of it as starting a new chapter in your professional growth.