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.

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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Who says you can’t go home again?

I’m calling this chapter of my life Living With My Parents…Again.

No, this isn’t a written version of Matthew McConaughey’s Failure to Launch or Alexis Bledel’s Post Grad. There isn’t a witty narrator here glamorizing life as an aspiring writer and there isn’t a guy with Ryan Gosling’s face, David Beckham’s abs and Liam Neeson’s accent to sweep me off my feet.

I’m currently 23 and living in my old bedroom that is still painted a vibrant red and tropical orange, lit by a floor lamp with two out of five light bulbs working. My dog, Tess, is snoring and taking up 2/3 of my bed while I write on the remaining third.

When I accepted the job at the newspaper I was moving from a different state. I drove out of Pennsylvania on Saturday, got to my childhood home Sunday and started the new job  Monday. I put my things in my room and told myself it wouldn’t be long. Days turned in to weeks and weeks turned in to months, and I’m still living in my parent’s house.

I did everything I was supposed to. I excelled in high school; making sure I had the perfect balance of athletic and academic extracurricular activities. I went away to college and graduated with a journalism major and double minor in creative writing and english. I ended the summer of my senior year early and took an internship in a different state. I scavenged for writing jobs in New York and found it’s hard to get a foot in the door. I postponed New York and took a great newspaper job in my home state, which happened to be my local newspaper.

Why did I decide to go in to writing? Sometimes I know the answer and sometimes I don’t. Writing is hard. Writers are moody. Writers don’t make money. Yet there is something so powerful about finding the exact word, phrase for what you are trying to say.

As fate would have it my older brother, who has been living west for years, is back in our house, as well as he finishes the last stretch of his degree. It’s weird to be living in a house we grew up in when we are in our twenties. The dynamic is different, we no longer are teenagers who have curfew.

Although years have passed, we somehow are back under one roof. For better or worse I’m pretty much an optimist. I write a lot about experiences as a twenty something and this is one of them. No, my life isn’t completely together. I question my passion and profession at least once a week, but I keep coming back for more. The best thing about being a twenty something is knowing things don’t have to be perfect and my life doesn’t have to be together right now. I still have several more years in my twenties to work that out, right? Right.

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Ps. and I get to view sunsets like this in my background and see plays with my beautiful mother like I was able to do today.

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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.

Theme shmeme

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I go back and forth about what the theme of my blog is.

At first it was an experimental “do I really want to have a blog” blog. For years I was convinced I did not want to blog; until I did. Two years later I’m still going strong.

Next my blog was a collection of twenty-something tales mostly about being in college. That blog turned in to a post-grad black hole about missing college and experiencing FOMO (look back to my post about getting over FOMO, if this is you).

My in-between posts included  bits of my published clips and portfolio.

I thought about themes I could write about – journalism, working out, writing and college. Each category was hard to secure because my life lately has been changing. It’s hard for me to pin down a theme when every six months I’m doing something new, crazy and frightening – graduating, hopping states, moving, starting jobs etc.

For now, I will continue to be chasing conversations because it’s what I’m doing. I’m constantly writing, editing and interviewing people for my profession. What does chasing conversations mean? Does it mean I’m desperate for interaction? Does it mean I’m going to hunt them down with a bow and arrow or tackle them to the ground with my best professional NFL linemen impression?

No. It means what I do is ask, listen and learn. The best part of my job is interacting with people and learning their story; what scares them and makes them tick. And the cherry on top? Being able to write about it.

Signs you shouldn’t take the job

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Post grads have something (okay, several) things in common. One large commonality is job searching. I have been on my fair share of job interviews over the past year and have noticed some things that have really caused me to reconsider the job and ultimately turn it down.

1.) It’s not offering enough money

Yes, a little is better than none. If you’re looking for a different job while already employed you don’t have to stress about this one too much, but if you are jobless you will be tempted to take whatever you’re offered. However, if your salary will barely allow you to pay rent let alone purchase anything besides ramen noodles and gas for your vehicle, it may be time to turn down the offer.

2.) You guess the job would sort of be okay

That’s not good enough. Yes, we have bills to pay and  trust me I know, but I’m a firm believer in people being motivated to do better in a job they like. If you take a job you don’t like you will most likely be miserable. That being said if you are unsure but think you could actually enjoy it, by all means give it a shot. There is nothing wrong with trying something out to see if it is the appropriate fit. It’s also incredibly empowering knowing this job, is the first of many and you can leave it.

3.) You or others applying for the job notice something is not right about the company

Before I accepted my current job I was applying to companies in different areas. One of the interviews was for a telecommunications position at a company I will not name. Well as I approached the building I wasn’t sure about the position. I looked at a plaque displaying the floor the elevator needed to take me. The name of the company was on the plaque but it was written with a sharpie (that should have been the first red flag). I arrived at the floor and saw it was cute but very sparsely decorated and I don’t know why my first thought was if they wanted they could be moved out of the office in a matter of minutes. There were no distinguishing factors displaying the company or what they did. As I was sitting in a chair getting ready to be interviewed I noticed three other people whispering and looking around. I went over and joined them and talked about how we all knew something about the place wasn’t right. It seemed like a scam and we ended up being right.

4.) They are unclear about the position and what you would be doing

Some companies will spend ten minutes using vague words to describe the job description. Ask questions about responsibilities, salary, anything basically and if they don’t answer them or avoid any hard-hitting questions it might not be the job you’re looking for. I went to an interview where they told me about the position and the company and by the end I was still unsure of what they actually did. When I asked questions they said they would get to that later and never did. The interview continued to go downhill, I became uncomfortable and left early.

5.) Current employees go out of their way to tell you how much they hate the job

I went to an interview and it went pretty smoothly, but as I was leaving one of the current employees was trailing behind me and told me about the large work load and how the job isn’t as together as it had appeared that day. I’m not suggesting anytime an employee says something negative about the job you should turn your nose up at it and leave it behind, but it’s definitely something to take in to consideration.

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

Ten moments in life that should come with a big, flashing billboard sign

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10 moments in life that should come with a big, flashing billboard sign.

10.) Santa Clause doesn’t exist. Okay, so I didn’t have a scaring Santa story. When I asked my mom one year if Santa was real she just told me the truth. However, some children don’t find out so easily…or as soon as they should.

9.) You’re favorite pet Tiger won’t live forever. If you have owned a pet or seen/read Marley & me you know how heart breaking the death of a pet is.

8.) You will have a lot of awkward, embarrassing first dates. They can be painful at times, but every so often someone can bring the color in your cheeks down from a bright red to a dull pink.

7.) You’re black focus isn’t invisible when going 10 mph over the speed limit.

6.) The thrill of living will not be gone after High School. John Cougar Mellencamp is misleading- even with his catchy tunes.

5.) Concert tickets are worth the splurge. Memories made with friends at a weekend of Dave Matthews is worth it.

6.) Meals are not worth the splurge. Okay, yeah it’s awesome to try the trendy new place where you can dress like a hipster and watch people cook your food, but at the end of the night you just ate/drank $50 of sushi/dessert/wine that could be in your gas tank.

5.) The 1 a.m. text to “watch” the new pensive Bradley Cooper movie “Words” really is a booty call. You might be trying to convince yourself he really is interested to hear your take on the flick. It’s a lie.

4.) You’ll lose friends. You’ll graduate, move and change. There will be some friends you don’t mind losing contact with and some you will mind. That friend who used to know everything about you will now be someone you simply have nice memories with.

3.)  You’ll find out your parents and brother are right. My parents are wise –sometimes I let them know that, sometimes I don’t. I find I seek advice from them a lot more than I did when I was younger and nothing can turn a bad day around faster than a reality check from my brother.

2.) Post-graduation is extremely difficult. You’ll find you have to make an extreme effort to visit the friends who used to live in the same city. You’ll find yourself spending Thursday watching Parks and Recreation instead of drinking $3 beverages at the local bar. Enjoy it, be irresponsible and after you graduate visit the campus as much as your wallet and schedule allow.

1.) You’re doing fine. Okay so this isn’t a specific moment – and fine, you’re not working for Vogue or married to David Beckham with 6 soccer-playing babies – but you’re doing a damn good job living. As creatures of habit, we’re constantly critical of ourselves. Breathe. Your friends and family will do anything for you. They will make you laugh until you cry, curse at the jackass who stood you up, they’ll be honest and together you will grow up.

ex-poet, ex-pianist turned reporter

I’ve been slacking. My last blog update was a month ago.

What’s been going on since then?

I had a birthday and turned 23 (exciting). I also accompanied my cousin Rachel to a wedding in Ohio and crashed the event, Vince Vaughn style (way more exciting).

I fell in love…with New York City and Jon Hamm. I love everything about NYC and I spotted Jon Hamm as he came out of a Broadway play. And yes, Don Draper is just as handsome (if not more) in person.

Well, with the fact that my internship ends on Friday, I have been relentlessly applying to job openings.

On top of that, I have been covering a range of stories at work including car accidents, a bomb threat, a Cub Scout day camp and I went on a 2.5 mile hike for story.

My cousin, Andrea came to visit me and we explored mountain towns, drove around listening to music and witnessed the senior citizen nightlife of Hazleton when DJ QB comes to the Timbers Lounge. (Note, those senior citizens out-danced and out-drank everyone there).

Oh yeah, and I accepted a full-time reporting position. I am happy to say that I am looking forward to the challenging atmosphere that the newspaper business brings. Even though I am a young twenty-something, it doesn’t escape me how lucky I am to have a print job in a profession that is becoming more and more digital.

Well folks, that’s where I have been the past month. Here’s to finishing an internship and beginning a career.