Preparing for Dietetic Internships

Preparing for internships isn’t something that you do in the first couple months of your last undergrad semester (though as I sit on my couch surrounded in practice questions for interviews, it does seem that way), it has been something that I have been doing ever since I began my journey at Ryerson (mind you I am completing the program in 2 years!). I’ve put together this blog post to benefit all the future RD’s out there, give it a read and if you have anything you think would be useful for me to add, send me an email and let me know.

So you’re in first or second year?

Well it’s not to early to start thinking about preparing yourself for the world of dietetics, if that is the course that you are going to take. You are expected to gain valuable experience throughout your undergrad that would position you to be a great dietitian. Internship and masters selection committees are looking for well rounded individuals. What exactly does this mean? Well this means getting experience in :

  • a clinical setting, preferably with a dietitian
  • food service
  • research
  • as well as experience in:
    • communications or public relations
    • leadership and team work (this one’s a no-brainer!)
    • planning and organizational experiences
  • and of course getting good grades!

Seems crazy right? How on earth are you going to get experience in all of these realms? Well here are my tips:

  1. Read those emails that come out from the school of nutrition! Claire and Zena often have amazing opportunities listed in their emails. That’s how I’ve gotten a couple of my RD-related experiences. Also check out the Nutrition Volunteer & Job Registry on Brightspace by D2L
  2. Get involved! NCU, CAFP, CDA…. Positions on these groups can help you gain communications, leadership, teamwork and even planning and organizational experience if you take on larger roles.
  3. Reach out! Ask your teachers if they know of any one who is looking to take on a volunteer. Or if someone is doing research that interests you, give them an email.
  4. Say yes to professional development. Career center events, workshops by the School of Nutrition, and of course the profession development put on by us.

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So you’re in third year?

Well get ready for a roller coaster of a year to come. Seriously it is crazy. The amount of gray hair that I have now…

During your third year is the perfect time to really get some valuable experience. This is also when you should really be considering that professional development that you might have been putting off in year 1 and 2.

Useful School of Nutrition workshops and events to consider (may change year to year):

  • Nutrition Grad School Essentials/Q&A
  • RU Interprofessional
  • Your Path to Dietetics
  • Resume and Cover Letters
  • Interview Techniques

Useful NCU events to consider:

  • Master and Internship Q&A
  • Dietitians Day
  • and many more!

Take the summer before your final year to really think about what you want to do with the rest of your life, and of course what programs you will be applying for. Read up on the programs, feel them out. What do you like and dislike? I found it helpful to eliminate some programs that didn’t interest me right from the start. By the end of the summer, you should also have an idea who you will be asking for references from, and you can approach them to see if this is something that they could do for you. I know it seems early, but the more time they have, the less stress you will have the week leading up to due dates. The next thing you can start working on is your resume (I probably spend over 60 hours working on this in the past year. I kid you not.)

Check out this link: http://www.dietitians.ca/Learn/Practice-Blog/November-2015/

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So it’s you last year? 

Time fly’s right? Well all of my applications have been submitted (that’s a plus) and now I am about to enter interview phase. In my mind, there are three big components to this process of obtaining an interview for DC accredited internship or masters program:

  1. Resume
    1. Work on it far in advanced.
    2. Review the DC requirements for formatting (reverse chronological, 12 point font,…)
    3. Go to the Dietetic Internship Resume workshop by the School of Nutrition
    4. Work experience and volunteer experience VS Experience (specify employment or volunteer in the description). Either works. I chose to do do experience because this brought my clinical nutrition volunteering to the top of the list. Ultimately you want to make your first page be the most impressive.
    5. Go over the ICDEP and integrate these skills and aptitudes into your resume. You will be amazed at what type of skills you gained from your summer job that you had no idea that were applicable
    6. Go to the career center to have them review it or if you are participating in PDAP, you can also have the PDAP advisor review it
    7. Have a teacher or one of your references review it
  2. Cover letter/personal statement
    1. Go to the Dietetic Internship Application Seminar put on by the School of Nutrition
    2. Research the programs and the institutions that you’re applying to. Try and highlight your skills or experience that are are in line with their values or their mission statement
    3. Start righting down ideas early. The cover letter is the most challenging and tedious part of this whole process. In the words of the RD I work with “Write your cover letter, write your cover letter, write your cover letter,write your cover letter…….”
    4. First draft, second draft, third draft… Well some of my friends had up to 20 drafts by the time they had everyone  proof read and edit it.
    5. Get your computer to read your cover letter to you. This was a game changer for me, mostly because I am terrible at editing.
    6. Have colleges, instructors, or the writing center or career center read over your cover letters.
  3. Interview
    1. Go to interview workshops at the career center! Or book a 1:1 interview appointment: http://www.ryerson.ca/career/about-us/appointmentbooking.html
    2. The NCU put on an amazing mock MMI this year that was really useful, especially if you will be going programs that interview by MMIs.
    3. Sit down with a friend and go through mock questions:
      1. Check out Appendix C for tons of potential interview questions: http://www.ryerson.ca/nutritionandfood/professionalpathways/dietitiansinternship/FAQ_About_becoming_a_dietitian_August_2009.pdf
      2. http://www.slideshare.net/davidgest49/top-10-dietitian-interview-questions-with-answers
    4. Practice with a peer, in front of the mirror or on a video
    5. Dress to impress. You’re applying for a professional internship, so you should be dressing how you believe a professional should dress.
    6. SMILE and BE YOURSELF. Let your personality shine. Interviewers are looking for students that would be a good fit in within the institution, and so they want to know who you really are.
    7. Bring your resume with you to the interview (Wincy gave us that tip!). If ever you get stuck on a question, you can look down for guidance.It also reminds you to bring your transferable skills to the table. With many questions, an example can really perfect your answer, so go ahead a share!

Other useful links:

This is a stressful time. It is important to relax, and make the most of this time. It can get pretty competitive at this time of year, but don’t give in. If I learned anything these past couple of months, it is how important it is to just have friends that you can rely on to be there for you. And who will go to the gym with you when you just need some time to de-stress.

So, though I still don’t know what is to come in the next couple months, or what I will be doing next year. I really hope the best for all present and future applicants. If you have any tips of tricks, feel free to share them with the applicants of tomorrow, by writing it up and sending it to nutritioncourseunion@gmail.com, and we will feature it on our blog!

And best of luck!

Kaylem Boileau | Communications Director

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