Upon graduating college I went straight to an internship that seemed like it would surely lead to a career directly related to my major. One month later, I had left that internship and was starting from scratch. This might sound like a failure or an unfortunate waste of time, but it was huge in leading me to my current path. The two years since college have helped me define my career goals (or at least somewhat focus them!) and it all came from trial and error. I did not have a defining ‘aha’ moment in which I knew that I would become a dietitian. I jumped around and weeded out what I didn’t like. While figuring everything out I found blogs by RDs and nutrition students to be extremely helpful, so I am now sharing my journey in the hopes of becoming a resource for others on this path.
Here’s how I got here:
June 2014: As a new graduate, I moved down to Washington DC to begin an internship on a political campaign. This was a dream internship that I was sure would be the first step to one day working in the White House and then the UN and from there I could accomplish anything I wanted! I very soon realized that I wanted nothing to do with politics and nothing to do with my Government major (oops). I left the internship, moved home, and started some soul searching to figure out a new path.
July-August 2014: Each day of that summer looked a little like this….get up, go through my usual morning routine, grab my computer, sit on the deck, apply to jobs. I was grasping at straws here and applying to anything that sounded remotely interesting. It was a new idea everyday kind of situation. I narrowed my focus a little bit and decided to pursue something media related. I had participated in a New Media summer class/internship program through my school the previous summer and thought that route sounded interesting. As an avid food blog follower, food media was my top choice.
August 2014: The stars aligned and I landed an internship! (a paid one! double win!) Mid-August I began a full time internship at a food magazine. This, again, seemed like a dream job and I already had daydreams of moving up the ranks. The internship was an amazing learning experience, and I had so many great opportunities. (plus an office full of such sweet and fun coworkers!) While there were many perks, I still felt a little unfulfilled. I was missing connection with people and knowing I was impacting others in a positive way. The consumers felt distant, and the work didn’t always feel as purposeful as I wanted my work to be (disclaimer: I am NOT bashing magazines-love them-or magazine employees, for my personality I just wanted more interaction and human connection in a job). I thought back to college experiences that I had truly enjoyed, and I searched for a way that I could make an impact on the lives of others while incorporating things that I love.
Aug-Dec 2014: During the months at my internship I was still researching any and all career opportunities that might be my perfect fit. I knew the job was temporary and I wanted to be planning my next step. It was during these months that I found more information about becoming a Registered Dietitian. I knew that I still loved reading and writing about food, but I came to realize that good, nourishing food was my passion. I remembered my elective class-Science of Nutrition. I also remembered my senior year spring break service trip to work with DCCK and how fulfilling and inspiring that week was. I found myself reading article after article and book after book (and watching every Netflix documentary) on nutrition. The pieces all fit and I decided I would go back to school to become a Registered Dietitian.
January 2015: This is when the real journey began…and I knew it would be a long one. In my undergraduate career I double majored in government and hispanic studies. I do not regret that choice one bit; I truly enjoyed my classes…..BUT that left me with NONE of the science prerequisite classes for a dietetics program. I’d decided that since I already had my undergraduate degree, I wanted to complete the required DPD courses at the graduate level. I also hoped to find a combined program so that my internship would be built in and the whole process would be wrapped in one neat little package. I started prerequisite classes at my local community college and took chemistry and anatomy during the spring semester. Every summer, fall, and spring since then has been filled with science. I decided to spread out the classes and supplement with part time work and GRE studying since I knew I couldn’t start a program until fall 2016 anyway with all the catching up I needed to do. I looked at programs, mapped out prereqs, and hit the books.
September 2015: GRE time! I knew I wanted a graduate program so I had to do it. I did it.
Fall 2015 – February 2016: Applications, applications, applications! I only applied to 4 schools but it felt like so much to do! This was all the usual nitty gritty work of filling out forms, plugging in scores, getting recommendations, and writing that darn personal statement. It was stressful to stay on top of, but it got done.
***anxious awaiting of decisions***
March 2016: RELIEF! I finally got my decision and was free from the nerves of the my entire career being on the line. I laughed, danced, cried, celebrated! And soon after, continued studying.
NOW: I’m so close yet so far! I still have my very last prerequisite class to finish (biochemistry ugh!) and come August I will officially be an MPH/RD student. I’m equal parts thrilled and nervous to start this journey, but I know it’s exactly where I want to be. I hope to keep updating on the grad school process and hopefully this will be useful to others. If you are (or you know of) someone who is considering the RD path, especially a more unconventional route, please do reach out if I can be of any assistance! Anne’s blog was such an amazing resource to me, and I can only hope that I’ll be at least a fraction of a resource to someone else.
So there’s the very long ‘how I got into nutrition’!