Tips on how to match to a dietetic internship

Hey y’all! As match day inches closer, I reflect back on the stress and anxiety that comes with filling out DICAs and hoping for that match. With less than a 50% match rate, we all know the pressure. Take it from a girl who didn’t match the first time around!

With that being said, I have compiled all of the things that I did to better my resume and application and got interviews with all of my choices and ended up matching to my first choice!

So my suggestions for any of you applying to DICAs are:

  • Call directors and ask questions

It sounds like a lot, but I truly think this puts a face to the name. Internship directors go through tons of applications and any way you can make your name stand out is worth the time!

Some questions I asked were:

1. How do you prepare interns for the RD exam and what materials do you use?

2. What is the focus of the internship and what experiences will I receive that will prepare me to go into that field?

3. What is the cost of the internship and how do you feel about an intern working on the weekends?

4. Will I have to drive distances during the internship?

5. What kinds of projects or homework do the interns do during the internship?

These are just a few examples. I asked many more and also changed them up a bit for the different internships depending on what I already knew. I would always make sure to look at the internships website before deciding on questions because you do not want to ask something that you could’ve found on your own.

I also asked if I could get in contact with current interns to ask them questions. This is super important because you want to get input from them, hear about their experiences in the internship and can find out if this particular internship would be a good fit for you. Some questions I asked them were:

1. What was your favorite experience in the internship thus far?

2. What was your least favorite experience?

3. In your opinion, how is the culture and relationship between the current interns and between the interns and the director?

4. What are your goals for after the internship and do you feel the program is preparing you?

5. In your opinion, what are things I can do to improve my chances of getting this internship?

  • Apply to as many as possible

I applied to six with one of the six having different locations, so it ended up being nine. This was a lot! Especially compared to most other dietetic students I have talked to. It truly depends on what you feel comfortable with and what you can afford. I was in a place where I was willing to move and had saved up enough to pay for the applications. I wanted to give myself the best chance of getting a DI since I hadn’t my first time. This is not the norm though and do not feel bad if you only choose to apply to a few!

  • Apply to DIs that fit you and your interests

To piggyback off the previous tip… I applied to several, however I applied to internships that had focuses in areas that I was interested in. For instance, health promotion, childhood obesity and long term care. (I know they all sound very different, but those were the areas that interested me at that time and I was willing to take any of those routes). You should apply to an internship that has a focus or rotation in an area that you would like to see yourself in. *Plus you want to spend the next year with other interns who have similar interests and will be a friend to you through the internship!

  • Use All Access Internships!!!

My sister bought me a package for this for Christmas the year before I applied and I literally cried. It was seriously such a lifesaver for me. They helped me with my resume, personal statement and helped me refine my interviewing skills. There’s several different packages and add ons to help you in whatever areas you feel you need. It’s 100% worth the price! I always say to invest in your future and this is definitely an investment for your future!

  • Retake the GRE

The GRE was the hardest exam I’ve ever taken… and I recently took the RD exam. I took the GRE my junior year of college and I didn’t study nor did I try hard during the exam. I figured it was similar to the ACT and felt like I was going to do well. I did not do well… So I ended up retaking it the summer before I applied to internships a second time because several of the internships I was applying for had criteria for the GRE. So I would suggest retaking the GRE if you are way below the criteria for the internship you are applying for. Most internship directors rank this pretty high on their scoring since it is an indicator of your testing skills and internships want students who will pass the exam as this affects their statistics.

Note: with that being said, I would also look for internships who have high statistics. If they have had a 100% pass rate for the RD exam, it’s very likely that they will adequately prepare you for the exam too! Which in the end, is the most important thing.

  • Provide specific details and use SMART objectives when filling out DICAs

This is one thing that I MAJORLY did wrong my first time applying for internships. Although it’s been over a year since I’ve applied and I’m not sure how DICAs looks anymore, if there is still a section where you type in your experiences (volunteering, classes, job experiences, etc), you NEED to fill them out completely and sell yourself to the internship! Use SMART objectives. (Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Realistic and Timebound). You want to show them that your previous experiences have set you up to succeed throughout the internship.

  • Ask references that know you well and can attest to your skills

It is so important to have references who know you and can give specific examples of how you will fit well into the internship. They will be able to talk about your strengths and flip your weaknesses to become positives. For example, my GPA wasn’t as high as other students who were applying, but my references were able to attest that I juggled many things during my college years and was very well-rounded compared to my peers.

  • When you get matched, CELEBRATE!

You are one of the 50% of dietetic students who matched. This is a huge accomplishment and you are one step closer to becoming an RD!

I hope these tips are helpful to y’all and always reach out if you have any specific questions! I know how difficult and stressful this time can be, but in a year, you’ll be thankful that you took the time to go that extra mile to stand out!

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