The process of preparing, selecting, and applying for a dietetic internship can feel like a daunting task. I was once in that predicament. It took me months of research to understand the application process and narrow down exactly where I wanted to apply. If your unprepared, it can easily turn into one of the most stressful times in your life.
But I’m here to help with that. I’ve already been through the process and I want to share of the things I wish I knew back then. So here’s a list of five factors that I feel are important to help you get accepted into a dietetic internship.
Maybe to the most important factor that allows for internship directors to easily differentiate between hundreds of potential applicants. Your GPA that will be included in your application will be calculated based off your nutrition and science classes. GPA is also used by program directors to determine which applicants will potentially pass the RD exam on the first try.
Letters of Recommendation
Three letters of recommendation are usually required when apply for an internship. Two academic (dietetics instructors/professors) and one from an employer or dietetics professional.
- You are allowed to attach three letters of recommendation for each application, but DICAS allows for you to upload 4 letters. This allows for you to choose which letters can go to benefit each specific program. You want to ask individuals who know you well and can highlight your strengths. Many programs have specific requirements for the letters. Usually two academic letters (DPD director and nutrition professor) and one work/volunteer letter. If you in a situation where you have to choice you work/volunteer letter from a dietitian or a non-dietitian employer, choose the dietitian.
- Tips for asking for a letter of recommendation
1. Ask for the letter of recommendation early. DPD directors and nutrition professors/instructors are going to be swamped with requests to closer it becomes to submit the internship applications. Requesting early gives for you professors/instructors time to write a quality letter.
2. Only ask for letter from individuals who know you well and who have first-hand knowledge of your experience, work ethic and personally.
3. Choose individuals that are familiar with dietetic internships and know how important a good letter of recommendation is for the acceptance. For example, an employer who is not well informed with the DI application process many not write a letter as impactful as a dietitian that you may have shadowed or volunteered with.
4. Write a thank you letter to all of the individuals who wrote a letter of recommendation for you.
Write a personal statement telling the DI program why you want to be a Registered Dietitian, why they should choose you for their program, and what your future goals and aspirations are.
- Your personal statement is the centerpiece of the application and allow for you to let you personality shine so that you can stand out from the crowd. DICAS allows you to upload a different personal statement for each internship you apply to. Make sure that each personal statement is tailored to each internship you apply to.
- The five questions will have to be answered in your personal statement but make sure to check the website of each internship just in case of additional questions.
1. Why do you want to enter the dietetics profession?
2. Discuss experiences that have helped to prepare you for your career.
3. What are your short-term and long-term goals?
4. What are your strengths and weaknesses or areas needing improvement?
5. What other information do you consider important for the selection decision?
Paid or volunteer experience in dietetics/nutrition. This could be working a foodservice, volunteer with or shadowing a dietitian, and participating in nutrition research. Don’t be scared to ask a dietitian for help.
Similar to prior experience, extracurricular activities can be memberships to nutritional organizations. Most colleges that offer a dietetics degree will have a student dietetic association (SDA). Being active in this association is great way to network with other dietetics students. Joining and being active in state or city dietetic associations will offer further networking opportunities.