So, you’ve made it through your first few years of undergraduate food and nutrition coursework and now you’ve finally arrived at the long-anticipated dietetic internship (cue intimidating music). Trust me, I know the feeling all too well; which is why I’m here to offer you a few tips and tricks that will enhance your chances of landing your dream internship!
- Get Involved. I cannot stress enough how important this is! Program directors want to see that you’re actively involved in the community and using your time and efforts to impact those around you. By joining your school’s student dietetic association, serving as an Academy Student Liaison, volunteering at a local food bank, getting involved with organizations on campus, etc., your resume will begin to flourish and you will catch some eyes with your application!
- Start Early. This is something I wish I would have prioritized quite a bit more during my undergraduate studies. Each internship will typically have different requirements for personal statements (length suggestions, topics to be covered, etc.), so it’s important to begin working on those as soon as possible. That way, you’ll have ample time to get your applications in early after navigating your way through DICAS. You’ll also want to order transcripts and request references from advisors, professors and supervisors so they have enough time to properly fill out the reference sheet (ask early!).
- Reach Out. I’m convinced this is how I was able to land my first internship choice. I made a point to meet with the program director, staff and current interns multiple times before applications were due. Not only does this help answer any questions you may have, it shows your interest in the program. When your application slides across their desk, they’ll recognize your name and remember the impression you made on them.
- Work Experience. Don’t stress if you haven’t had a job working in the hospital with a dietitian. What program directors really want to see is any sort of work experience you’ve taken part in! This shows your marketability and work ethic as a potential intern, but if you can get food service experience that’s an added bonus.
- Prepare for References. When the time rolls around to request letters of reference for your applications, you’ll want to have acquired a wide variety of professors and nutrition professionals to choose from. By setting up meetings with your professors and actively participating in class discussions, this will provide the means for you to receive great recommendations that will enhance your applications.
Taking this big step into your dietetic internship can look daunting and feel a little nerve-wracking, but these five strategies really did make a huge difference for me! While these tasks require a time commitment and a lot of hard work, I promise when the match date rolls around and you’re one step closer to becoming a dietitian, you won’t regret the time and effort you put in.