The Non-Traditional Student and DICAS: Highlighting What Makes You Special

African American woman interacting with baby while studying at computer
Photo: monkeybusinessimages/iStock/Thinkstock

Dietetic internships are incredibly competitive with over half of all 2016 applicants not receiving a match. If you are a non-traditional student the pressure of getting that match, coupled with commitments such as mortgage payments and children, can make the internship process even more daunting. But as a non-traditional student you have unique qualities to highlight when applying to internships.  If you are an older student who is considering applying for a dietetic internship, it’s important to know what makes you a great candidate, and how to use those qualities to increase your chances of getting that match.

You Stand Out

When you’re 10, 15 or maybe even 20 years older than your classmates, blending in is not an option. You’re not just another college-aged kid. Internship directors will notice and remember you because your face stands out in the crowd. Use this opportunity! Be ready to let your passion for the profession shine through and demonstrate that you will not let age stop you from reaching your goal.

Maturity

Look for ways to emphasize and highlight this maturity in the application and interview process. Show flexibility and a willingness to learn. Avoid making excuses if you did poorly in an undergrad class, talk about what you could have done better, what you learned from the experience and how you used that knowledge going forward.

Confidence

You didn’t go to college because your parents expected you to go, or because all your friends are there. You are here at this time in your life because you want to be. You know what you want, and you know how to accomplish it. Demonstrate this confidence by highlighting your past achievements and clearly stating the unique qualities you have to offer.

Life Experience

You’ve seen and done more than your younger peers. You have failed. A lot. But you’ve learned from those failures and bounced back. Don’t be afraid to talk about your failures and what they have taught you. These types of experiences show that you are well-grounded and capable of weathering the difficulties of any dietetic internship.

Best of luck! You can do this!

Tina Sjorlund
Tina Sjorlund is a dietetic intern at Missouri State University. Her professional interests include food insecurity, nutrition counseling and eating disorders. She is a firm believer that kindness and empathy can make the world a better place.