I’m Applying for Dietetic Internships!

student applying for dietetic internships on a computer

I’m back y’all! Happy Tuesday, Happy New Year, and welcome back to the blog! Congrats to everyone who are still working on their New Year’s resolution and if you’ve given up, maybe try again. One day of messing up doesn’t mean you should throw in the towel. Keep moving forward!

Speaking of which, one way I’m working on that is preparing for dietetic internship applications. Part of being an RD2Be is completing a dietetic internship after getting graduation. As a senior in college, that next step is coming very soon! I’ve been trying to figure out what I want since last summer and I’m finally finalizing applications, which is very exciting! Here’s a look at my thought process and journey to get to where I am now.

What Do I Want?

Over the past six months, I’ve been looking at dietetic internships and figuring out what I’m actually interested in. Here’s what I’ve decided is important to me:

  • Nutrition education and counseling: my job on-campus revolves around helping students find study skills that work for them. I really like walking them through that and want to apply that to nutrition.
  • Pediatrics: something I’ve seen from others and myself is that it can be hard to replace bad habits with good ones. That’s true with diet as well. I’d like to learn more about sharing nutrition with kids so they can learn about healthy eating from a young age.
  • Research: when I started school I thought I’d only want to get my bachelor’s degree and leave it at that. Now at the end of my undergrad, I’m starting to realize how much I enjoy learning. And I’ve always felt rewarded by finishing a research paper or project. I think it would be interesting to work on that more in real life.
  • Entrepreneurship: if I end up going into nutrition counseling, I’d probably start my own private practice. My minor’s in business and I like a lot of what I’m learning from it, but want to know more.

Those help me narrow down the schools a lot. But geography is another big consideration too. Fortunately my home state of Texas is large enough that I have a lot of options for in-state tuition. But I’ve also looked at schools in the Rocky Mountains because I really enjoy that part of the country.

Finally, I want to get a master’s degree. So it’s important to me that the school has either a Master’s in Nutrition Science or an MBA program. I’d like to get an MBA to help me if I open up my own private practice, but if the school doesn’t have that, I’d want to dive deeper into nutrition science.

Where Am I At?

Right now, these are the top dietetic internships I’m applying to:

  • Texas State University
  • Lamar University
  • Montana State University

I chose each of these because I like the geography and program concentration of the dietetic internships. Texas State is close to my hometown and has a concentration in pediatrics. Additionally, their MS in Nutrition is very research oriented and I’d like to learn more about that. Lamar is where I’m currently going to school so I’m familiar with the area. It’s also incredibly affordable and has a concentration in education and counseling. Finally, I chose Montana State because of their concentration in Sustainable Food Systems, which I’d like to learn more about, and their location in a part of the country I might want to live in.

So What’s Next?

The joy of applications! If you’re not quite familiar with the process of becoming an RD, I’ll link to an article I wrote about that, but most dietetic internships require an application through a very detailed site called DICAS. On that website, you share basically anything you’ve done in college or recently for you that’s relevant to dietetics: classes, volunteer work, jobs, organizations, awards, experiences, and your resume and personal statement. Filling out all that information is tedious work and the spring deadline is coming soon (February 15), so I’ve been working on that over winter break.

Even sooner than that, however, is a “pre-select” deadline for Texas State. Some schools that have both a DPD and dietetic internship will favor applicants from their DPD program. Texas State is one of those schools, but it’s also one of the few I’ve seen extend that invitation to applicants for their graduate nutrition program. Because that’s my only good chance of getting into the program, my top choice, I’m applying that way. The only downside is the deadline for that is a little earlier, on January 15. Both the internship and the graduate program have separate application processes from DICAS with their own specifications and that’s taking the majority of my time right now.

What Have I Learned From All This?

Even though I’m not done yet with this whole application process, there’s a couple things I’ve been able to take away from it I thought I’d share with you.

  • It’s never too early to start! This is something I’ve heard and seen countless times and even knowing that, I still realize I could’ve started earlier. Although the DICAS application itself doesn’t open until early December, you can still start thinking about who you’ll ask for letters of recommendation and begin writing and getting feedback on your personal statement.
  • Do some soul searching. This one might be a little obvious, but I’m being completely serious. Give yourself some time to just think about what you like in general and in dietetics. Think about what you’re good (or not so good) at. Do this more than once and spread it out. You’re literally planning your future, so make sure you know what it is that you want.
  • Attend internship open houses, especially if they’re online. Most dietetic internships will have some kind of open house during the year, especially in the fall. While it might not be possible for you to travel halfway across the state or country to a school you’re looking into, a lot of schools will have online open houses! If you see a school you’re even remotely interested that has an online open house, be there. The open house will either clarify information on the website and/or share more details and stories about the internship. Write down what you liked or didn’t like the program and any questions you have. Even if you don’t apply to the school, it will help you get a feel for what you’re looking for in a program.

That’s pretty much it from me! If y’all have any questions about the whole process, let me know! I’ll try and answer them as best as I can.

Until next time,
Emmalee

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