Every year, thousands of dietetics students across the country prepare their application for a dietetic internship or coordinated program. And every year, only about half get in. I was blessed to be among 12 students accepted earlier this year into Youngstown State University’s coordinated program. I easily could have been on the outside looking in. With my recent success in getting selected to a coordinated program, I’d like to offer three tips that may help you get into the program you will be applying for.
Do Well in School
This should go without saying. I think most of us who got into my program had at least a 3.4 GPA. Work hard to get the best grades you can in every class, even seemingly insignificant prerequisites. Read daily and take good notes. Once you get in a program you need to know your stuff so the learning does not stop once you get in. Doing well in school also goes beyond good grades. You need the good GPA for your resume, but there is more to it as well. Interact in class and pay attention. You never know who is watching; your professor could be on the board making the calls on who gets accepted in the program, or you may need them for a strong letter of recommendation one day.
Get to know other students in your classes. Join the dietetics club at your school and make a name for yourself. Also, get to know your professors. Show interest in them and their work and ask a lot of questions. I have been able to sit in on some pretty cool things and be involved with projects that I otherwise would not have been by just being proactive and showing interest. If you have a good reputation, knowing more people greatly increase your chances, and being proactive may allow you to gain some great experience to help build your resume that would look very attractive to programs you may apply to.
I have worked several part-time jobs on my journey going back to school so far. Being an older student, I had no choice. But I also made an effort to work jobs that would give me experience working in foodservice and with clients. I work as a personal trainer but also picked up a part-time job as a dietary aide in a nursing home. I have volunteered when able, too. I believe my work and life experience paid off big time when it came to me getting into the program. Try your hardest to get a job, at least part-time, in foodservice or some other aspect of healthcare. If not, at least volunteer often with your student dietetics club or another organization. These types of experiences will give you a distinct edge over others who have little or no experience. It also shows that you are committed to the field. Not only will it look good but you will be able to learn a lot outside of the classroom that may prove useful later on.
There you have it, three ways to increase your odds of getting into an internship or coordinated program. I know the process is long and very competitive. But if you give it your all and apply yourself in these ways, you will have done all you can to put yourself in a position to succeed. Good luck and have fun!