As dietetic students, when we hear the word “internship,” most of us feel heart palpitations, our palms get sweaty and we might even experience shortness of breath. Take a few deep breaths and prepare yourself to read about something other than a dietetic internship – I am talking about an internship you can obtain right here through Metropolitan State University of Denver’s own Applied Learning Center via the Internship Program. After undergoing a quick and informative orientation, you can be on your way to an internship of your own (for more information about the Applied Learning Center and how you can find an internship, follow this link: https://www.msudenver.edu/internship/) but this is my experience.
I was fortunate enough to land a summer internship with University of Colorado’s School of Medicine this past summer as a research intern in the Pediatric Nutrition Department under Dr. Jill Kaar. I showed up for my first day on the job not knowing what to expect as the most exposure to research that I had was Dr. Bizeau’s journal clubs – for all I knew, I was going to be in a lab wearing a white coat and looking into a microscope! However, I was given a nice introduction to the kind of work Dr. Kaar did and what she was working on. After I went through some training and orientation, I was given the opportunity to work with Dr. Kaar and her colleague, Dr. Susan Johnson.
Dr. Kaar was working on a qualitative project to determine and bridge the gap between pediatric healthcare providers and parents on nutrition education and information. I helped create a coding manual to code the information from the healthcare providers to find barriers and strengths in providing nutrition education to their patients. I also coded half of the transcripts and will help write the paper. Besides looking great on a resume in and of itself, I was also offered co-authorship on the paper that will be written once the research is complete, because of my help.
Working with Dr. Johnson introduced me to a different part of research. She wanted to determine why children hesitate to try new food and if there was a relation to how kids view themselves and the world around them. I was able to participate in interviewing children and finding out their thoughts on the materials we used. Working with children is my ultimate career goal so this opportunity has given me some very unique experience to include in a resume. Working with Dr. Johnson gave me experience in collecting data while the experience I received working with Dr. Kaar focused more on analyzing data and reporting results – all of these elements are important parts of research.
Not interested in research? No problem! There are many different kinds of internship opportunities offered by the Internship Program from working in an eating disorder clinic to counseling patients through weight loss or other health concerns. These internships can give you real-life experience in the field of nutrition and may even have the potential for job opportunities – I know a few classmates who have acquired nutrition-related jobs through first doing an internship. Overall, the experience an internship provides can bulk up your resume, help you stand out among other dietetic internship applicants or even help you land a job.