The NCU ran a successful Masters and Internship Q & A Night on November 9th 2017! Thank you so much to all those who came out, both students and guest speakers, to our biggest event so far! We hope you found the event both educational and interactive, however if you couldn’t make it, here’s a quick recap of some important points and themes that were brought up with our guest speakers!
What were some of the factors when deciding between a masters or an internship program?
Depends what your interests are. If you like research, follow a masters path, if you don’t seem to like research based projects, maybe consider an internship. You can also do a masters/internship combination in a 12 month program. You could also just take the first opportunity, accept your first offer and go with that!
Have you been able to work a few days a week during your grad program, besides TA-ing?
Some said “not a chance”, while some said “more than doable to work one or two shifts a week on the weekends”. It is very hard to work especially with a TA position, because the workload fluctuates (when you have a lot to mark, for example). You would have to have excellent time management skills – keeping up with homework, readings, preparing for internships, balancing a social life. Make sure you don’t burn yourself out.
Are you at a disadvantage if you take a year off after grad to build up a resume build some savings?
No, you have up to 3 years until your courses need to be taken again (become invalid to apply for masters/internship). You also have free access to the career center for 3 years after graduation. Application processes are stressful and it’s okay to take a year off to build resume and/or prepare application. However, wouldn’t be a bad idea to apply to one or two places anyways, to practice and gain experience applying. Might even get an interview for practice, and might even get in! Who knows. Internships are expensive so it’s also okay to take a year off to work and save up some money, so that you don’t have to work during internship (or masters). Working at a place to beef up your resume would be the best idea.
Can you get a job right after undergrad if you do not get into internship or masters, or decide not to apply?
Small research and clinical jobs. Have a backup plan if you don’t get in first try. It could be an eye opening experience, a chance to work in the field; see what you like and if you want to pursue the same career path you had in mind at graduation. Forces you to try something else that you may not have tried and had you gotten in first try. If you re-apply, make sure your application improves. Do not submit the same one, beef it up with experience and make it stand out. Apply to more than one place, though. Spread out your options and better your chances of getting an interview.
Is there anything you wish you knew in first year that would have helped in your later years of undergrad and applying for masters or internship position?
Get involved! Gain your experience in the areas you are interested in – don’t spread yourself thin. Make sure you take things on that you care about, however it is important to be well rounded and dip your toes in other things as well. They look at quality of experience over quantity… working alongside a dietitian for a few hours a week looks better than filing papers at a hospital full time! Research background is important when applying for a masters. People are scared to ask professors to volunteer in their lab… they would probably love the extra hands! Can even be a prof from another field, or another university. Just keep asking until someone says yes. Gaining transferable skills is also important. Even if you don’t volunteer alongside a dietitian… if you work as a lifeguard, emphasize your leadership skills, management skills, attention to detail etc. these are skills that are transferrable into your future career.
In your third and fourth years, what did you do to prepare to apply?
You will have a better sense of what your professors expect from you in your later years. Don’t stress too much, don’t focus on getting straight 95’s. Just work hard and it will pay off. Build your experience while balancing getting good grades. If that means you need to take an extra year to complete the program, take an extra year (or two!). Most programs are looking for an A- average. Having a couple courses on your transcript below that is not a deal breaker. Last two years of undergrad are an important time for preparing to apply, and applying for scholarships. Taking summer and spring courses will also help to lighten course loads during the fall and winter.
What are some tips when writing the Letter of Intent?
Do not wait till the last minute. Start at least a month in advance. You are going to go through many drafts, so the more time you have the better. Different programs are going to ask for different formats, so follow guidelines carefully. Know what you are applying to, why you are a good fit for that position, speak about your success and previous experience, what you can bring to the table – Don’t talk about how this will benefit you, but rather how can you benefit them. Know your audience, speak to something relevant to them. One little spelling error could land your letter in the trash pile. PROOF READ. Have someone from a professional field read it over – nutrition, and outside the field as well. Be different. You need to stand out among the hundreds of other applicants. Career centre has great resources, career counsellor for nutrition department is an expert in this area. Utilize your resources!
How can I prepare for my interview?
Masters and internships interviews are similar. Find someone in the program, and ask what the interview was like! Get some insight. Find some sample questions if possible. Look over brochures and program details to find out what they focus on, become familiar with this focus. Every interview will be different. Some are over the phone, some are in front of a panel either individually, or with other applicants, could be interviewed one-on-one in stations. Be prepared to answer questions about yourself, about the field, and about your experience. Is it at a hospital? Do some research on the hospital, learn about what their core values are; maybe even some research you can integrate. Visit the location of the interview at least once before the actual interview. Find out exactly where you are going, become familiar with the building so that you do not get lost on the day of the interview, and it will reduce anxiety being in a familiar place. Put yourself in a stressful situation to become prepared. Find practice questions – the career center may be able to help. Utilise your references – call them and ask for advice, get them involved in your application process. When talking about yourself, draw from your experiences, talk about things you have gained and learned from your experiences. Be prepared for random, irrelevant questions such as “Name a historical figure that you look up to and tell us why?”
What do you do in your program?
Diabetes counselling. Work with clinical in-patients (public health sector). Cardiology. Oncology. Neurology. Eating disorders. Food service management.
Advocate yourself for areas you are interested in. Many possibilities.