I have some very exciting news to share with everyone…(drum-roll please?!)
After two years of hard work and determination, I have finally been matched to a dietetic internship with the University of Delaware on-line distance program. I am on cloud-nine right now!
If anyone does not know how the application process works, let me break it down to you:
You can apply to as many internships as you want; but keep in mind each one usually has their own separate application fee. And don’t get me started on all the other expenses – the application fee to submit everything through DICAS, as well as the separate website (D&D digital) where you rank your places, ordering of transcripts, etc. Once that is all submitted, you have to pray that you get an interview from one of these places. Some do not have interviews, but most of the competitive internships have either an interview over the phone or through Skype, or in-person if possible depending on your location.
Then after interviews, you have a chance to re-rank your internships. This is a great thing because this gives you the opportunity to switch your order if you know you bombed an interview (or maybe you did not get an interview). Most places will let you know if they hold interviews on their website, so if you don’t hear from a place at some point…it is best to drop them to the bottom of your list. If none of the places that you applied to hold interviews, you just have to rank them according to your preferences. It is best to go with the program that you like. Do not rank a place higher than another because you think you did better in an interview over the other. The interview is a good part of the application, but it is not everything.
Then you must wait another month or so for match day.
Except match day is really the first Sunday in April (or for me it was the second Sunday because Easter happened to land on the first Sunday this year).
Then you must log-in to D&D digital where you ranked your places at 6 PM CT (or 7 PM EST) to find out if you were matched or not. You will either see a message that states “I regret to you inform you were not matched…” or “We’re pleased to inform you that you have been appointed…”
I went through this process three times before successfully being matched, so I have a few tips & tricks that I will share with you that I wish I knew at the time I applied.
Tip #1: RESEARCH YOUR PLACES. There is a list of available dietetic internships here. Each program lists their annual enrollment, program length, nutrition emphasis, total tuition, etc. Do make sure to go on their website and read all the details! Some places require GRE’s, and other supplemental information. It’s also good to know what the program’s mission statement and goals are. I also highly recommend checking out The Applicant Guide to Supervised Practice. This guide is an excellent resource, and I wish I knew about it earlier. It lists all the dietetic internships, and provides you with all the information you need to know – number of applicants that applied the previous year, admission requirements, the mean GPA of current interns, and what they rank you on of most importance to least.
Tip #2: GET EXPERIENCE: While grades are important, they are not everything. Most times they will take the student with averages grades and a well-rounded resume (including extracurricular actives, volunteer experience, etc.) over the straight-A student. For myself, I had a 3.2 GPA but I had very little volunteer experience due to being on a high-demanding sport throughout College that took up most of my schedule and time. I volunteered at a hospital over the summer for a couple of months, but it still was not enough. It is very important to get involved as much as you can if you want to land a internship after graduating college. The field and competition is tough, and it’s important to start getting experience early. A few ways to get involved include volunteering at a hospital, food bank, or joining your school’s nutrition club.
Tip #3: RE-TAKE CLASSES: One thing I learned after applying for the third time is that grades are important no matter how much experience you have. If the internship you applied to is competitive, and they see that you had a C+ in Advanced Nutrition, then they will give you a lower rank over an applicant who has gone back to school and improved their grades, while still gaining experience in the field. After having an excellent interview for one of the dietetic internships I applied to, I had a great feeling that this was it. Unfortunately for me, I did not get into this program but I decided to contact the director to review my application and give me some input on why I was not chosen, and what I needed to improve. Some places even let you set up a time to speak with the internship director themselves to review your application, and how they ranked you on everything. TAKE ADVANTAGE OF THIS! This will help you learn what you need to work on – whether it be your experience, grades, personal statement, references, etc.
Tip #4: APPLY TO A DISTANCE INTERNSHIP: I strongly recommend applying to at least one or two distance internships. While you do need to find your preceptors before-hand, and it may seem like a lot of work…it will be worth it. I made the mistake of not applying to any distance internships because I waited last minute and could not get all my preceptors together on time. However, most distance internships accept more interns annually so there is a better chance of getting in than a place that only accepts 10-15 interns. After applying for the third time and not being matched again, I decided to participate in the post-match. The post-match allows those who were not matched a second chance. D&D digital lists the places that did not fill all their spots, and you get to apply to these places with another expense. I decided to apply to 5 more places, and a few of them were distance internships. I was lucky enough to be accepted into Delaware’s distance on-line internship, and I had until the 31st of this month to find all my preceptors. And I’m happy to say as of today, I have finally scheduled all my rotations. It may seem like a lot of work, but the great thing about it is you get to schedule everything yourself, and choose the locations around you that works best for you.
Tip #5: MAKE YOURSELF STAND OUT: What makes you unique from those other candidates? If you have an interview, make sure to sell yourself. Do you have a passion? Incorporate it into your personal statement, and make it interesting. Nobody wants to read a boring essay about why you love nutrition. They want to learn what makes you different than the others, and why they should choose you. I have a passion for running, so I made sure to incorporate that into my essay and linked it to how it started my passion for nutrition. And aside from running and working as a dietetic technician, I do other things outside that make me happy but still involved in the field. I love to cook, and make new recipes and share them with you. I work with MyOatmeal.com as a recipe ambassador, and have over 3,000 followers on Instagram. You should also tailor each personal statement to fit with the program. For instance, if the program’s emphasis is community…then make sure to talk about how you are involved in your community.
Tip #6: DON’T GIVE UP. It took me three times, and a post-match to finally land an internship. If I can get an internship, then so can you. Just remember to keep your head up, and your time will come.