Success Tips for Non-traditional Students

Success for Non-traditional Students - Food & Nutrition Magazine - Student Scoop
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Being a non-traditional, full-time dietetic intern can be challenging!  Take it from me, I graduated college, got married, began my internship and had a baby all within the same calendar year. Yes, all of these life events are happy and exciting but they can also become overwhelming and stressful at times. I’d like to share some tips that helped me be successful during this busy time.

Start with essentials

As dietetic interns we have growing knowledge for healthy living behaviors. We should use this knowledge to help ourselves eat healthfully during our rotations. Meal prep by pre-portioning and preparing meals earlier in the week, so they are ready to eat when you need them. Cook food in batches such as chicken breasts, grains or legumes. Mix these with fruit or vegetables for a nutritious meal. Make sure you practice proper food safety when storing and preparing meals!

To save time and lessen stress, use slow cookers at home to make a meal while you’re on site or pressure cookers to make meals in less than 30 minutes upon returning home.

Some other factors to make the internship as easy as possible:

  • Make sure you drink enough water every day.
  • Exercise, even when you think you don’t have any time.
  • Make sure you get enough sleep.  Adequate sleep is crucial for performance and exercise can help boost energy and promote sleep.

Ask for help

Don’t be afraid to ask for help.  I used to do everything for myself and by myself.  But supporting a family is different and I realized it’s OK to ask for help.  If you’re feeling overwhelmed, consider asking a family member to start a chore while you are driving home from the rotation site.  Or ask them to start dinner while you work on an assignment.  Sometimes just having someone to talk to about your problems is helpful, too, even if they aren’t starting a chore.

If you find yourself facing food insecurity during your internship, know it’s OK to utilize resources to help put healthy food on your table.  Programs can help you support your family while reaching your professional goals.  Programs such as SNAP or Healthy Food Bank Hub can connect you to your local tools and resources to help you and your family.

Commend yourself        

Life comes with exciting changes.  Don’t be hard on yourself and keep a positive outlook.  I am grateful for all the help I have received throughout my internship.  Don’t hesitate to celebrate your successes.  You’ve earned them!

Eric Forrest on Linkedin
Eric Forrest
Eric is a dietetic intern at Northern Illinois University in Chicago, Illinois. He has a passion for nutrition and physical activity and cannot wait to start his career. You can connect with him on LinkedIn.