A conversation with a dietetic intern

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Alex, a down-to-earth recent college graduate, is no stranger to working for what she wants. When she started college she was  in an athletic training program before she realized she was more interested in nutrition and using it as a way to  help others. 

Fast forward and the determined twenty something not only graduated with a BS in Applied Health Science from Indiana University but snagged a competitive internship through Andrews University.

Alex packed up her things, moved to a new state without knowing anyone and is working as a dietetic intern at Atrium Medical Center.

As if moving and starting an internship isn’t enough, Alex is also working on her Masters in public health and adopted a cat named Myrtle (pretty awesome, right?).

Here’s what an average day looks like for Alex.

During each day she sees patients, who may have nutritional deficits. She also does diet counseling if a patient needs to be on a specific diet when they go home.

On a normal day she will see and talk with 5-8 patients, document everything and work on projects or case studies.

The best part of her internship has been learning the ins and outs of being a registered dietician. She is completing the internship to be eligible for the registered dietitian board exam. Her ultimate goal is to become registered and become a dietitian. 

“There’s only so much you can learn in class, so it’s great to get some experience before actually having a job,” she said.

The internship has also helped confirm her interests in the field. She has found out she enjoys the clinical side of dietetics because it’s more hands-on.

How does she stay motivated? By knowing the internship is not only a great experience but also going to help with her career.

“I just have to keep reminding myself that I’m not going to be an unpaid intern forever, even though it feels like it sometimes…” she said.

Her proudest accomplishment is moving somewhere out of her comfort zone.

“I’m very much a creature of habit, so I was really nervous and anxious about moving to Ohio, but I’m so proud of myself for doing it,” she said.

Since college her schedule has changed. She said she finds she needs to study a lot more now, not just cram. She also goes to bed and wakes up earlier than she used to, even on weekends.

With the whirlwind of change adjustment, the twenty something has plenty of good advice for those experiencing something similar.

Something that keeps her going is knowing she made someone’s life better. Helping patients makes Alex feel like she is making a difference.

Advice she would give to others who want to get in to a similar field is to not freak out about internships. Although they’re competitive, decent grades, a genuine personal statement and some experiences raises someone’s chances of getting one.

Career advice she would give to twenty somethings is to “find something you like, and do that.”

“How can you do something you don’t like everyday for the next 40-50 years and still be a decent human being,” she said. “I don’t think that’s possible, at least for me. I’d end up being a hermit or troll that lives under the bridge.”

A look at some of the questions

How do you stick with it?

I just have to keep reminding myself that I’m not going to be an unpaid intern forever, even though it feels like it sometimes. Eventually, I will get paid. (Hopefully!)

Best advice you’ve ever received on your major or your area of interest?

This counts towards dietetics and also life in general, but my dad has told me countless times “The world doesn’t revolve around you, Aggie.” I get so caught up in working and learning and thinking about the menu I need to write later I forget people don’t go to the hospital because they were bored that day and thought they’d come visit. They’re there because of a severe illness, and they need help recovering. That kind of puts things in perspective. The first priority should be helping patients, and that’s something I have to remind myself often. (Sidenote: I don’t know why my dad calls my Aggie, but he’s called my that since I was born. It’s a weird nickname). 

What is your dream job?

As of right now, my dream job would be working with individuals struggling with eating disorders. I have a minor in psychology, and I really enjoyed those classes, so pairing psychology and nutrition would be a great asset when working with eating disorders.

Scariest thing you’ve ever done?

I accidentally walked into a tuberculosis patient’s room without a mask! (TB is contagious.) But probably moving to Ohio by myself. Before this year, I’d never lived anywhere where I didn’t know a single person, so that was a big deal for me. I’m only about three hours away from my family and friends, but I’m in a different state, so it definitely feels farther away.

Hardest part of your internship?

Getting up at the crack of dawn, and medications. I can never remember all the medications.

 What will you be doing after your internship?

After the internship, I’ll take a board exam to become registered, and hopefully find a job somewhere. I’d take a job anywhere at this point, as long as it pays me. 

Where do you see yourself in two years?

I should be an RD by then, if all goes according to plan, and hope to have a job in an area of dietetics I enjoy. I’ll also be finishing my master’s, which is exciting.


Read other conversations in the series here.

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A WordPress anniversary: two years later

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I logged in to my WordPress account to a “Happy Anniversary” notification. The announcement reminded me I started my blog two years ago.

In those two years a lot of things have changed, including my blog itself. I first started my blog under the name Hoosier Twenty Something.

The blog was purely experimental. I mentioned in my first post the fact I once said I would never blog and didn’t understand why it has become so popular. Of course I was a blogging rookie at that point.

Blogging is a platform to do, well, whatever you want to do. You can have a theme, talk about your thoughts about any subject. It’s a platform to express yourself in a way you can only do with a keyboard.

I started reading more blog posts – ranging from fashion to reviews to travel and a variety of other topics. I’ve found people are funny, insightful and talented. It’s always refreshing to  read something someone else writes and think “that’s so right” or “that’s exactly how I feel.”

Two years ago I was about to start my senior year of college and had a bucket list of items I wanted to complete (and I believe I did all but one or two). I went from college senior to college grad to missing college with a side of FOMO (failure of missing out) to writer trying to figure things out.

Most of my blogging has been centered around college-related subjects and that has changed. Since then I’ve worked four jobs and now my blog focuses on writing and people. I write, interview and talk with people daily for my job. I plan to continue expanding my writing and continue to document where my twenty somethings take me next. Thanks for the experience, WordPress, and here is to another two years.

On surviving your roommates

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Happy Saturday, everyone. I just wrote a guest blog post for a site called Teach me how to college, a place for future and current students to receive answers to all things college related. Posts range from avoiding the freshman 15 to deciding your major and where to live while in college.

My blog post includes advice you need to hear about surviving, living and getting along with your roommate(s). Read it right meow.

You just might find the secret to roommate happiness.

Five things I thought would happen when I graduated college

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1.) I would know what I wanted to do

I spent four years and thousands of dollars shaping my education in to a specified major, minor and you know what? I still don’t know exactly what it is I want to do. I’m tweaking it as I go.

2.) I would be more decisive

This pretty much goes hand-in-hand with the first one. I would probably be more decisive if I knew what it was I wanted to do and where I wanted to live, etc.

3.) I would have more money

I thought I would have more money. More specifically I thought I would have more money and be buying grown up dishes, décor and food. Guess what? I ate boxed macaroni and cheese for dinner on a plastic plate.

4.) I would travel

And I have a little bit. I’ve been to New York several times since Sept. and am leaving for Fla. next week, but I thought I would do the whole eat, pray, love thing where I backpack my way across a different county. Alas, the whole money thing limits my travels for the time being. Don’t worry I’m saving up for a trip as we speak.

5.) I would like martinis, Manhattans or gin and tonics

Yes, I’ve updated from the freshman year Natty Ice, Kamchatka and PBR, but I still can’t get down on these “sophisticated” drinks. They’ll put hair on your chest.

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A conversation with a national service volunteer

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After selling her computer and car, Samantha packed everything she could fit in to an AmeriCorps-issued bag and boarded a flight to California.

Samantha is a 23-year-old who went to Indiana University and is now doing a program for a national service, AmeriCorps NCCC FEMA Corps. She is a project specialist.

While trying to narrow down a choice of major, she decided to join AmeriCorps and jumped in to the decision without hesitation. She had thought a lot about joining the Peace Corps when she was in high school, but AmeriCorps was an option that had a shorter commitment and seemed more lax.

“I couldn’t decide what I wanted out of life,” she said. “It was difficult for me to narrow down an area of interest for a major and I knew I didn’t want to work as a receptionist forever; service seemed like a viable option in the meantime, while I figured out what I wanted.”

Samantha said it has become clear what she wants and what she doesn’t want. Her goals are clear and she has decided on a major moving forward with her education.

Although she will be all over the United States for the next several months, Samantha is currently located in Queens, N.Y. She said a lot of what she is doing is paperwork.  She is doing paperwork to prepare the road system affected from hurricane Sandy. Even though it’s six months out from the disaster, there are a lot of things that need to be done.

“It’s hard to stay motivated sometimes, but this work still needs to be done,” she said.

Samantha said there have been mixed public views on what they are doing. She said a lot of people along the way to New York didn’t know how to take them.

“They would ask us what we’re doing and not really understand,” she said. “It’s been amazing because the second we got near the coast and mentioned we would be doing Sandy (hurricane) relief, people on street corners and Starbuck’s baristas would tell us thank you. They have been genuinely grateful.”

The best part of her job, she said, has been learning so much about herself. She said she didn’t expect it to be as hard as it has turned out to be.

“I’ve learned how I work with a team and how to define myself,” she said. “You’re in a situation when you’re in a uniform all day, everyday. You don’t define yourself by what you’re wearing or what you have.”

Along those lines, Samantha said the people she has met along the way have surprised her.

“You don’t have those defining characteristics, like an iPad or your Sperry’s, so you have to get to know people on a very basic level of being in the same program,” she said. “My best friend on my team was homeless for a period of time and I don’t think I would have been friends with him without this opportunity. The friendships I’ve made have been great.”

She described the hardest part has been being around the same group of people 24/7 saying, “The same four people share a room, beds, drive to work together, share a desk at work and do physical training together.”

She describes the scariest things she has ever done is volunteering for AmeriCorps.

“Volunteering for something and not really having any idea what it was going to be like was scary,” she said. “I had to leave all the comforts of home.  Even when I moved away from home before, I had a plan, freedom and my things. The not knowing of this program and jumping right in is scary.”

In her time off she has been writing, traveling. She said she has visited Central Park, the Museum of Natural History and more.

Best advice she has received while preparing AmeriCorps was from her father, who she described as her inspiration.

“Before I left, my dad told me ‘this is the time of your life. You’re going to make memories and meet friends you’ll keep the rest of your life,’” she said. “It’s true and I try to keep that in mind when I’m having a hard time.”

After Samantha finishes her time working for the service, she hopes to finish her degree and is thinking about focusing on pre-law, international studies or policy analysis. She said she started at Indiana University and would like to finish there, saying, ‘It has been fun to tell people I am from Indiana and went to IU, especially during basketball season.’

Advice Samantha has for those hesitant and scared to do something is not to overthink it.  She said it’s unnerving to take a leap of faith, but the feeling is liberating

“I went to somewhat of an extreme, gave up my job, apartment, relationships and sold my car, all to join a program I knew very little about,” she said. “I had hesitations and was scared but more than anything I felt relieved. Don’t overthink it, just jump.”

Advice she would give twenty somethings following their dreams is to go for it.

“What’s the worst that could happen? You could fail. Good. Fail. Fail hard, be miserable. Then get up, wipe your tears and do it again,” she said. “What’s the best that could happen? You could succeed and get everything you ever wanted. How will you know if you don’t do what you want to do and follow that dream? It’s worth it.”

Samantha also said people should be decisive and direct about what they want. She said making your own decisions and being as open and clear about things you want out of life will eliminate all the other clutter.

“How will anyone – a friend, your parents, your boyfriend, your coworkers, how will they know what you want if you don’t tell them?” she said. “People will recognize you know what you want and you go out and get it.”

A look in to a few of questions:
1.) Where do you get your inspiration? My dad. He’s always proud of me and works so hard. He is a great father who gives great advice. He is my mentor, friend and greatest inspiration.”

2.) Do you feel like a badass? (after laughing) I kind of do. A lot of what I’m actually doing is paperwork. It’s six months out of the disaster. These are a lot of the things that need to be done. I’m doing paperwork to repair the road system.

3.) What do you wish you had more time for?  It might be selfish, but I wish I had time to myself. I would like to have time to read a book, paint my nails, and take a little bit longer shower. I also hope to read a book I just ordered, “Frozen in Time,” a non-fiction book about WWII.

4.) What is your dream job or what are you interested in doing? I am very interested in law and policy analysis.

5.What is your proudest accomplishment? It will be finishing school. It’s something I’m passionate and thrilled I will be able to do. I’m dedicated, driven and looking forward to that moment. 

Check out other conversations in the series here.

What they don’t tell you in school

I’ve written a lot about college and adjusting to post-grad life and I’ve come to a conclusion. High School, college attempts to prepare you for the next step. You’re always preparing for the next grade level, test and job.

I learned a lot in school from teachers, mentors and professors, but they all left out one small detail.

 You will fail.

That’s right, I said it. You will fail. Yes, you, looking fabulous; I’m talking to you.

You’ll fail at something. You’ll fail at many somethings. But you’ll get through it.

Some of the best advice I ever received from my mother was “sometimes you just have to say f*ck it.” My mother, who is a lovely, eloquent woman, would cringe if she saw I shared those words, but it’s true.

Sometimes you just have to say f*ck it.

Twenty somethings spend a lot of time over-analyzing. We finish school, apply for jobs, get said job and hope to do well. We hate the thought of failing. It’s not something we’re used to. We keep a running to-do list in our heads at night. We come in early and stay late. We exchange a glass of wine, shot of tequila for coffee and diet soda.

We refuse to accept defeat. But you know what? We will fail. The sooner we accept that, the sooner we will be able to enjoy ourselves.

Another gem of advice my mother gave me: you aren’t married to your job, company. There are circumstances, such as the economy, when our company could just send us all packing.

Yes, we should do a damn good job at our job. Yes, we should own up to mistakes. Yes, we really should strive to succeed, but at the end of the day we aren’t married to our work and that is liberating.

I’m not saying you should quit your job, lose your inhibitions, move to a clothing-optional island and take up sun bathing, but I’m saying you will fail and that’s okay. When that happens own up to it, correct it and make it right.

All that anxiety creeping up on you at night as you think about work the next day? Let it go. The reel you keep replaying in your head about something that happened two weeks ago? Let it go, you won’t change it.

Like my mother says, sometimes you just have to say f*ck it.

Oladipo, we’re all for you

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Did you hear the loud earth-shattering boom earlier today? That was the sound of the hearts of Hoosier Nation fans breaking.

Although it’s not a complete shock Victor Oladipo is forgoing his senior year and entering the NBA draft, it didn’t make the news any less bitter-tasting.

The junior, first-team All-American is graduating in May and according to the AP he is projected as a top-six choice.

Oladipo was the second-leading scorer and averaged 6.3 rebounds and 13.6 points a game. He also commanded respect by those he played with and against. But more than that, at the risk of sounding like a complete girl, he looks really, really cool doing it.

I mean come on, not only can he drive the lane, throw a shot up under handed and sink it, he can dunk the ball with what looks like an effortless jump. The man has “hops.”

I’ve written before about the program rebuilding after sanctions from Kelvin Sampson nearly demolished the tradition known as Indiana basketball. Oladipo was one of the guys who helped fans remember what it’s all about. The 6’5″ Maryland native was able to come in to a new state, school and basketball program and not only succeed, but epitomize what Indiana University basketball is. They worked hard and demanded the nation note their growth. As a result they made IU basketball spectators have fun.

Although I’m not happy to see him leave, I’m grateful to have attended the school consisting of this program. Cody Zeller, a sophomore basketball player, will announce his plans tomorrow. I won’t be surprised if he decides to enter the NBA draft as well but the holes left behind will be big to fill (and not just because they are big guys). If both Oladipo and Zeller are NBA bound that will leave four former starting positions ( Christian Watford, Zeller, Oladipo and Jordan Hulls) empty.

Although it’s uncertain what Zeller will decide, I will put my sadness aside and wish the best for Oladipo. I think Victor said it best in the press conference announcing his decision.

“It’s an honor to be an Indiana Hoosier. It means so much to me and I will always be an Indiana Hoosier. This is my home. I love this place. I love the fans. I love the people.”

In the same press conference, he said will come back to visit and he hopes he will be welcomed back with open arms.

We will always welcome you back, Victor.

Love, a member of Hoosier Nation

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A conversation with a writer

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I’m happy to introduce my first interview of the series Collecting Conversations. First up to the plate is Andrea, a 25-year-old freelance technical writer who writes textbooks on Microsoft Office software. She has a writing degree from the University of Tampa and hopes to be successful at creative writing one day.

The best part of her job is she gets to work from home and doesn’t have to deal with office politics. Also, Andrea’s name can be found on Microsoft Office software textbooks. Cool, right?

After years of writing before, during and after college, Andrea has a lot of knowledge to share on the subject.

Andrea doesn’t remember the exact moment she began writing, but she remembers being young.

“I’ve always been a reader. As a kid I would carry books with me everywhere I went (and I still do),” she said. “I guess one day I decided I wanted to try writing.”

She enjoys both fiction and poetry. Ultimately she wants to write fiction but she loves poetry and doesn’t want to stop writing it.

Her proudest writing accomplishment has been having poems published in an online journal.

“To me having my own work published is a much bigger accomplishment than getting my name on a book I wrote for someone else,” she said. “I will always remember the first time my own words were published.”

She has learned she can survive writing boot camp.

Andrea finds it harder to start writing than keep writing. She recalls her first year of college as a writing major and refers to it as boot camp, saying it was hard to be vulnerable.

“You spend a lot of time writing your deepest most intimate thoughts and then listen to everyone bash it to pieces,” she said. “If you can take that criticism and weed out the crap and let the rest of it help you then I think you’ll have a much easier time to keep writing.”

She doesn’t keep a writing schedule but wishes she did saying, “I’m just not to the point where I can sit down and say ‘I will write now.’ It doesn’t work that way for me.”

She has learned it’s hard to make time for writing.

“Life gets in the way of most things, but I think if you really have a passion for it, you will make the time,” she said.

Her childhood has been her biggest inspiration. She said she remembers random, insignificant moments from being a child and turns those moments into a story or poem.

She learned not to give up.

There comes a point when most people who have dipped their feet in to writing want to give up. Andrea said she almost gives up everyday, but by sticking with it, her writing improves.

“I’m a perfectionist who could spend an entire day rewriting a sentence,” she said. “I stick with it because nothing makes me happier than that moment when I find the right words to express what I’m trying to say.”

We ended the conversation with advice she would tell other writers or aspiring writers.

“I think you can’t be afraid to write in a medium or genre that you don’t like. I never thought I would ever become a technical writer but I actually enjoy it and it helps my other writing,” she said. “I would also say to really get into poetry. So many writers seem to want to write fiction but never get in to poetry. Learning how to write poems help make your fiction stronger, they go hand-in-hand.”

A look at a few of the questions:
What is the best advice you’ve ever received on writing?
I had a professor tell me that words fail and that once you get over that it becomes a lot easier. I didn’t get it at first but now that I do I’ve had a much easier time writing.
and the worst piece of advice you’ve received?
I think most advice is bad when it comes to art. I’ve been told to not write offensive things, which to me is ridiculous. Life is offensive.
What is your favorite book, short story and poem?
My favorite book of all time is The Things They Carried by Tim O’Brien. I read it all of the time and each time I find something new to love. My favorite short story is a tie between White Angel by Michael Cunningham and Dance in America by Lorrie Moore. And my favorite poem is This Hour and What Is Dead by Li-Young Lee (honestly I love anything by him).
Best movie you’ve seen lately that was adapted from a book?
Stand by Me is my favorite movie of all time. It was adapted from a Stephen King story. I did just see The Perks of Being a Wallflower and thought it was an amazing adaptation. I love both the book and the movie.

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5 things to help you get over post-grad FOMO

Fear of missing out hits post grads at least once. Be honest, it probably happens a lot more.

For the most part I’ve gotten over the post grad FOMO. I was living alone in a new state this summer and couldn’t really dwell on the fact it was no longer socially acceptable to run nearly naked  or jump in fountains like it is for college homecoming.

Now I’m back working at a job in the same state as my previous college stomping grounds. I have friends who still live in town and can crash on their couch when I want to visit.

However, I will admit I had some hardcore FOMO texting going on last night. I was stuck in my house for the snowpocalypse for ’13 while Indiana University basketball was having senior night. I watched the game as they fell to Ohio State. I then changed to the Big Ten Network to watch the senior night speeches as Hulls and Watford both got emotional. By emotional I mean they sobbed and I, of course, shed a few tears (several) as well.

After that the rapper Wale was in town for the game and a concert at one of the local bars. Random Tuesday night concert? That’s the sort of thing I miss.

I texted people who were in town and vicariously experienced the game, concert and good times.

Then I woke up sans hangover, well-rested and worked out, ate breakfast, showered and had a cup of coffee before 8 a.m.

As much as I sometimes miss the fun, social part of college there are also parts I don’t miss. Here are five things to help you get over post grad FOMO.

1.) You don’t have to cram, stay up late and insert coffee intravenously

I was talking to my best friends, who is a senior, and she told me how busy she is with classes this week. She has two papers, one of them a 100+ page script and two exams because next week is spring break.

2.) You (hopefully) have a better job than you did in college

In college I worked at a tanning salon and wrote for the school of journalism website/alumni magazine. I made minimum wage at the tanning salon and had to put up with a new side of public I had never seen before.  They did unspeakable things in tanning beds and on top of that I was juggling five classes and a story deadline.

3.) There will always be events to bring you back

Homecoming, athletic games and events will always allow you to be welcomed back with open arms and there will be weekends you’ll be able to pretend you’re back in college again.

4.) Healthier choices

Campuses are surrounded by fast food, Starbucks and bars. It’s easy to be up at midnight and think the fries at McDonalds  or XL coke from the Circle K are a good idea. Also there is something about studying late that involves snacks or caffeine. Being in a different environment allows more time to make healthier choices like purchasing groceries and actually, maybe, sort of allow you to use the square box also known as an oven.

5.) You are a badass twenty something with a badass degree

Recent post grads are twenty somethings, like myself, have a reputation. Washington Post said it was hard to be a twenty something. Some news articles call us selfish, others call us naive. Some say we don’t know what we’re doing and you know what? They’re right. No one knows what they’re doing most of the time but with twenty something confidence and determination you can succeed and be awesome. Yeah, I said it. You graduated. You survived school. Next time you get FOMO think about the accomplishment of graduating college. The accomplishment that will carry you through future jobs. You rock.

xoxo,

recent college grad

Adjusting

Since graduating college, I have adjusted to the withdraw I felt from things I once had access to at my finger tips (Hey, it only took me seven months).

Yes I missed 30% off sushi Tuesdays, groups of friends living two minutes away (or in the same house) and it being socially acceptable to have a Long Island at 4 p.m. during the week.

Luckily, I have been able to go back to my college town few weekends this fall to visit friends who still live in the area  stay up late, wear uncomfortable heels and order pizza at 4 a.m. The first few visits I felt sad when I left and dare I say, jealous, I wasn’t there anymore.

However, after a few visits I started to adjust to the difference. I found out I’m happy with where I am now. The adjustment isn’t bad, it’s just different.

For example, I do not miss having a job in addition to a full class schedule. Sure, working gets old at times, but it also allows me to have the money I didn’t have in college. I actually have money to do things. Those friends who live all over the United States? I now have money to go visit them.

I now find myself going to bed at a decent time and not going out very much…and that’s okay. It just means I am adjusting to the working world.

It also means I enjoy the time I do get to spend in my old college town with friends even more. 

I’m a firm believer every next step a person takes will be a great one. Graduating high school. Graduating college. A full time job. A different job. Adjustment will be key. But when the real adjustment hits, it will exceed all expectations.