Saint Louis University

BLOG: Passing the Torch: Some Tips for Next Year’s Interns

Author: Leslie Stovall
Published: Wednesday, April 24, 2013

It was around this time last year that I, a newly accepted SLU dietetic intern, stumbled upon this very blog. I was on a quest to find out everything I possibly could about SLU’s program; I had “liked” it on Facebook, read and re-read every word on SLU’s Nutrition & Dietetics pages, and still had so many questions! So, on the suspicion that at least a few of next year’s intern have also found this page, I’m dedicating this post to you. I’ve compiled a list of a few things I wish someone had told me a year ago!

  1. Congratulations...
    Hopefully, you actually have already heard this one from your friends and family. They’ve seen how hard you worked to keep your grades up, volunteer at hospitals, write the perfect personal statement, and navigate DICAS and D&D. But, as you’ll find during the next year, the general public doesn’t often know what a dietetic intern is, let alone how competitive it is to become one. I’m still not convinced my parents even know what exactly I’ve been doing over the past 9 months! So when people ask you what your plans are for next year, and you see their brow furrow when you tell them you’re starting a dietetic internship, don’t get discouraged. You’ve accomplished something remarkable by getting here.
  2. but don’t get too comfortable!
    I know that “senioritis” is probably hitting you hard right now, and now that you’ve been matched it’s tempting to coast for the rest of the year. Resist the urge to let that work ethic slip. The content you’re covering in class now will definitely be relevant to the dietetic internship. Slacking off now will only make the internship more challenging. Do yourself a favor now and finish your senior year on the right note!
  3. Enjoy your summer...
    There’s no denying that the dietetic internship will be one of the most challenging 10 months of your life. Even if you are a superstar student who has never had to study for a test and never gotten less than an A- in any class, you will be challenged. Even if time management is your forte and you don’t know the meaning of the word “procrastination,” there will be times during the internship when it will seem impossible that you will get everything done before May! (Note: It will all get done. I promise.) Since this is an unavoidable fact of internship life, enjoy a relaxing summer while you still can. Make an effort to spend time with your friends and family, because this will become more challenging next year. And spend some time on yourself, too. Catch up on your sleep now! That rest will come in handy, because you will hit the ground running during orientation weeks.
  4. but get prepared, at least a little bit!
    Of course, it’s a good idea to use this summer to gear up for internship. Use your free time to stock up on cheap school supplies (plenty of binders, highlighters, clipboards, printer paper and cartridges will all come in handy), clothes (business casual is almost always required on internship, and don’t forget your lab coats!) and get all those pre-requisites taken care of (food safety certifications, immunizations, and the like) so you’re not stressed about them once internship starts. It will feel good to start internship knowing you’ve already completed some of the requirements.
  5. You don’t need to have your whole life figured out yet...
    I wish someone had reassured me that I didn’t need to have all my career goals set in stone as I entered the internship. I had some vague ideas about what I wanted to do in dietetics, which I described in my personal statement and matching interview, but these were just educated guesses at best. One of the best aspects of SLU’s internship is the wide variety of sites and rotations that every intern gets assigned. The different sites allow us to explore fields that we think we will love, hate, and have never even considered before! While I thought I would never be happy working in a hospital, some of my favorite rotations were in clinical sites. I would encourage you to come in with an open mind.
  6. but some ideas might help!
    On the other hand, having some ideas about your career goals can help direct and shape your internship experience. If you think you would like to work with patients with eating disorders, college athletes, or in a grocery store, let the faculty know! They will do their best to accommodate these interests and make sure you get the experience you want. After all, this is your internship, and you want to get the most out of it! While you’re preparing this summer, I’d suggest brainstorming a list of all the career fields in dietetics you think you’d like to try out. SLU’s faculty has been very helpful in making sure I got all the experiences I hoped for over the course of the internship.

So, future SLU interns, I hope this list has helped introduce you to the crazy, rewarding year that will be your dietetic internship! It will be challenging, yes, but it can be done. As my internship is coming quickly to an end, I can’t believe how quickly this year has gone, and how much I’ve grown as a student and future nutrition professional. In just a year, you’ll be where I am now! Congratulations, and good luck!

Saint Louis University Dietetic Interns registered dietitian challenge
Some of the 2012-2013 interns enjoyed a show at the MUNY in August 2012. (Bonus tip: Don’t forget to have fun!)
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