ACSDA: Did you apply for a dietetic internship?
Cathy: Yes, I applied to 4 internships; Sodexo, Penrose-St Francis, Children’s Hospital and Tri-County. I interviewed with Sodexo and got a spot in their Distance program for Fall 2015.
ACSDA: What is the best piece of internship related advice you could give to an underclassman in this degree program?
Cathy: I have two pieces of advice. The first piece is to start the writing portion of your application early. Your personal statement, resume and other documents (Sodexo and Children’s requested additional written information) will need to be written and rewritten until they reflect who you are and what you want to say. Have a wide variety of people read them, friends, family, faculty, employers and someone at the writing center. If you haven’t used the writing center I highly recommend it. It will take your writing to a new level.
The second piece of advice is to throw yourself into one or two volunteer opportunities you feel passionate about. I think this is an instance where quality trumps quantity. Get to know as many people in the organization as possible and look for opportunities to learn new things. Keep track of your hours and experiences. It will allow you to write about the experience with confidence and if you are requesting a reference letter from someone in the organization you can provide them with a summary of the hours you have worked and what you have done.
ACSDA: Did you have a career prior to earning this degree?
Cathy: Yes, I had a 20+ year career in sales and business development. It was a good career but it was something I fell into after my first degree and I always felt something was missing. Nutrition has been my avocation for almost all of my adult life so two years ago I quit my job to begin my degree at MSU Denver. It was one of the best decisions I have ever made.
ACSDA: What professional realm of dietetics are you most interested in: clinical, community, or something else?
Cathy: I am interested in clinical nutrition. I love all of the science classes and MNT. I think being a clinical dietitian will allow me to see interesting patients and help people when they are battling chronic or acute illness. Having said that I also loved my Community Nutrition class and my volunteer opportunities. I think I would enjoy making a difference in the life of families in this community. There are so many opportunities for RD’s. It is going to be hard to decide where I want my career to go.
ACSDA: Do you think MSU Denver’s bachelors of Science in Human Nutrition & Dietetics is a difficult degree program?
Cathy: This is a rigorous program and I have been challenged in almost every class I have taken. This is a good thing. I am told the preceptors from the internships in Colorado feel that MSU Denver graduates are very well prepared. I feel confident that I have the knowledge to excel in my internship and the profession.
ACSDA: This is a competitive field of study, did you feel that you were competing with your peers in the program?
Cathy: No. I feel there is a tremendous amount of comradery in the nutrition department. I have met so many great people who are also pursuing their degree in nutrition. We share information about volunteer positions, job opportunities and internships. We help each other with assignments and study for tests together. This has been one of the best things about my time as a student at MSU Denver.
ACSDA: Knowing what you know now about the challenges of this degree program and career field, would you do it again?
Cathy: Absolutely! This is my second career and I am a non-traditional student. It wasn’t easy for me to quit my job and become a full time student. There were many unknowns. I wasn’t sure I would like being in school again. I was a lackluster student when I earned my first degree. I was afraid I might not make any friends. I was concerned about getting an internship and what my career path might be if I didn’t get one. Looking back, this has been one of the most rewarding experiences of my life. I have enjoyed every day I have spent on this campus and will be sorry to see my time here come to an end. Helen Keller said “Life is either a daring adventure or it is nothing.” She was right!