Which program are you currently enrolled in?
I am currently attending the Texas Tech University Dietetic Internship in Lubbock and simultaneously obtaining the optional Master of Nutritional Sciences degree.
What were your initial thoughts before starting the internship?
Before starting the internship, I was extremely nervous as you always hear different stories of what it is like and you never truly quite know what to expect. Along-side the nervousness I was very excited to get started and learn everything I could first hand from my preceptors who would be dietitians.
What made you choose this program?
Honestly, it would have to be primarily because of the internship director at TTU. I obtained my undergraduate at TTU and could get to know her and knew how she truly cared for her interns. I knew then that this was something that I wanted to be a part of. I also have a fondness for TTU due to Lubbock being my hometown. Having my Bachelor’s and Master’s degree from Texas Tech University was a top priority to me. I am blessed to be able to say I will have both completed by December 2017.
Which rotation has inspired you the most?
As of right now I would have to say working with the VA (veteran) patients. I was able to see the incredible number of layers there are to a person and what a dietitian can do in the outpatient world to benefit them. The veterans that I met during this rotation were some of the most kind and thoughtful people and it completely opened my eyes to the possibilities after my internship.
How have your initial thoughts about the internship changed?
I am not as nervous as I was before starting the internship. There were so many unknowns before starting my internship and rotations but my confidence really came out during my rotations. In my undergraduate program, I would hear from instructors and older interns, “you know more than you think you do”; and it turns out, I really did! Once I got into the real world of dietetics, my knowledge and education came out and I began to remember things I didn’t think I would. It really has been an amazing thing to be able to put my education to use.
What has been the most challenging part about your internship?
The most challenging thing about the internship for me would have to be time management. I was a graduate assistant (GA) and so I did not start my dietetic rotations until 3 months after my fellow non-GA interns. While they rotate 4 days a week I had to rotate 5 to make sure I competed my 1200 rotation credit hours. When rotating 8am-5pm, Monday-Friday, and having a full-time graduate school schedule, it did not leave a lot of time for anything extra. Setting a routine and relying on my calendar has really balanced my schedule and has allowed me to get everything done that I need to in a day.
How did you plan for this internship (time/finances/living/ect)?
I was lucky enough to have applied for and received a graduate assistant position with TTU. This position helped with graduate school expenses as well as some living expenses. I knew that if I got this position that it would help with the expenses of the internship/graduate degree. Many conversations happened with my husband about the different outcomes of match day and where I could wind up and what could be done about housing and living expenses. We worked together to come up with a plan for each site that I applied to. It was a family effort and I knew that because of the plans put into place for each site I applied to that there was a solution to any problem with housing and living expenses that could arise.
What do you plan to do after you’re done with your internship?
After completion of the internship I will continue working towards my Master’s degree. I will graduate with my Master’s degree 1 month after the completion of my internship. I will then take a short break and start studying for the Registered Dietitian Examination. My plan is to have the exam completed and passed by January 2018. Afterwards, I will start looking for my first job as a Registered Dietitian Nutritionist unless I am fortunate enough to have one beforehand.
Has anything happened that you did not expect?
I knew that people worked hard to become an RDN, however, I did not realize until I started my dietetic rotations how much work and time is actually put into becoming an RDN. Dietetic rotations are a consistent journey and it is a journey I will be proud to complete in the near future.
Anything you want to let students know that are applying to internships?
Take comfort that you have done everything you can possibly do. All you can do at this point is build your application piece by piece, double, and triple checking that you included everything required for each program you are applying to, and click the submit button. Once you hit that submit button there is nothing else that can be done but wait and see how the cards fall. My recommendation for every person applying for a dietetic internship is to have a plan B, and if this is something you really want and you don’t match, re-apply. Don’t give up!
What is something that you think DPD students can do to stand out in applications?
Get your name out there and get to know your instructors/professors. If you are involved in organizations or sororities/fraternities through your university, you are able to obtain leadership positions. These positions show the selection committee of internships that you can join something and rise up and be a leader. A lot of the time your instructors/professors are also on the selection committee of the internship you are applying to. Reaching out to them, as well as internship directors in different cities or states you are applying to, is probably one of the best ways to get your face and name out there so they remember you when it is time to select interns for their internship.
Interview by Alexandra Garcia and edits by Sarah Dahms, 17-18 TSDA officers.