What wonderful news I received! I have been matched to a graduate dietetic internship and am officially an RD2Be! The road to obtaining a dietetic internship is not easy, but I can officially say that the hassle was worth it! Just one step closer to becoming a RD!
When I matched, I had some people asking me how I did it. Truthfully, I don’t know. I worked hard to keep my GPA at a 4.0, volunteered as often as I could, became involved in clubs and events on campus, and developed relationships with wonderful professors. It’s easy to say all of that now, but at the time, preparing for the insanely competitive internship application process was stressful. So now that I am a “DICAS application survivor,” I want to try to address that “how did you get matched?” question:
1.The obvious one: Stay on top of your academics.
I am blessed to have been strong academically, but I know that the major is tough, and not everyone ends up with all A’s. So what then? The important thing is to play on your strengths. I knew that my strength was my academics, so when applying to programs, I searched for programs that prioritized GPA as the most important aspect in ranking. If you’re worried about your GPA, search for programs that don’t prioritize GPA quite as much. As I said, the major is tough, so if you are lost in class, reach out to tutors, friends, or the professor. Obviously, GPA is important, but play to your strengths, for instance…
2. Volunteer, volunteer, volunteer.
Several programs like to see students with strong community service hours. Community service can be one of the easiest ways to gain experience and boost your resume. All community service is good, but some is better than others. Prioritize nutrition-related community service: volunteering at soup kitchens, WIC, Meals on Wheels, etc.. I spent the summer before my application volunteering at WIC, which was a great way to get exposed to community nutrition.
3. Stay involved in work/volunteering/clubs for the long-term.
Programs look to see how long you stay at one location, and the longer, the better. This shows that you are a dedicated individual. Whether it be working at a food location on campus or volunteering at one location, if you have been there for several months (or even years!) as opposed to a week or a few days, that looks a lot better and can give you some extra points. For example, when volunteering at WIC, I noted on my application that I volunteered 2-3 hours every week over a 4 month period.
4. Try to obtain a leadership position in campus clubs.
This looks great, especially if the club is nutrition-related. This shows internships that you are not only involved on campus, but you are taking on extra responsibilities and leading your peers. Any other examples of leadership can really boost a resume.
5. Develop relationships with professors.
Letting your professors put a face to a name by participating in class, asking questions, saying hello outside of class, and scheduling meetings to discuss questions/concerns can be a great way to establish relationships. For instance, I became interested in one of my professor’s research, and asked if I could meet with her to discuss the possibility of working in her lab. Establishing relationships with your professors opens up several doors to opportunity, and makes the “would you be willing to write a reference letter for me?” question easier to ask when the time comes.
I hope that some of these points can help you in your RD2Be journey! It’s a tough journey, but you can do it!!