Getting the Most Out of Your Dietetic Internship

Young intern in lab coat carrying files and smiling
Photo: Thinkstock/miya227

With all the hard work that goes into applying for internships on DICAS, finishing your degree and waiting for match day, it’s hard to think about what comes next. The internship is where you get to put all of your knowledge into practice. It’s a safe space to learn, grow and experience different parts of the profession to find your niche. Make the most out of your internship experience with these helpful tips.

Become Comfortable with the Uncomfortable

Most people do not enjoy being out of their comfort zone, but this is where personal growth occurs. The experience you will get from progressing through difficult situations that promote professional development will prepare you for being an excellent — and hirable — RDN!

Look for Learning Opportunities and Jump In

Everywhere you go there is an opportunity to learn something you will use later on in your career. Make the most out of any rotation by asking questions and jumping in. Your preceptor is there to have your back. If you’re asked to give something a try, always say yes. Now is the time to make mistakes so you can learn from them. Measure your achievements by progress instead of perfection.

Treat Every Rotation as a Job Interview

Even if you have no interest in working at the facility you are in, the contacts you make there could be a great reference for you down the road. The dietetics world is an interconnected place. The preceptor you have in one facility may be linked to the RDN who interviews you for your dream job. You never know!

When You’re in a Rut, Focus on Gratitude

You will be working long hours, dealing with stressors and reaping the rewards in experience. In the moments you feel the pressure, look back and see how far you’ve come. Recall the days when you would have given anything to be in the shoes you are in this very moment. Take a deep breath and keep going.

Make it Yours

Take opportunities to gain experience in what ignites your passion. Getting the Most Out of Your Dietetic Internship - Use assigned projects as a chance to discover information about what you love. Ask your preceptor if there are opportunities to explore information about your chosen interest within the rotation. Through my internship, I was able to develop and present a series on gut health to more than 140 people. It helped me to gain knowledge through research, and presenting on my interests kept me motivated and inspired throughout the rotation.

Jaime Gnau on Linkedin
Jaime Gnau
Jaime Gnau earned her bachelor’s degree in nutrition and dietetics at Missouri State University and was matched with the Missouri State Dietetic Internship Graduate Certificate program. Her interests are in the latest research on the microbiota, health, functional and integrative medicine and nutrition education. Connect with her on LinkedIn.