With a match rate of less than 50%, It is difficult to get a dietetic internship these days. You hear about getting a lot of experience and keeping your GPA as high as possible, but what else can you do to stand out among the competition? After coaching hundreds of students individually, I have seen some strategies, both major and minor, that have helped students gain the edge they needed to get into a dietetic internship. Here are my top 5 unconventional tips for getting matched:
1. Make sure your personal statement is not generic.
You don't want your personal statement like ANYONE could write it. Answer each question in a way that only you can. Too often, I see letters that are generic and the answers are not well thought out. It will take a lot of brainstorming to decide how to creatively answer each question, but directors will be able to tell that you put in this extra effort!
2. Every sentence of the personal statement sells you in a convincing way.
Many students have a hard time really "selling" themselves. They feel like they are bragging, and it is uncomfortable. But, guess what? If you don't tell them how great you are, they will never know! There needs to be concrete examples and evidence to back up your skills and preparation. If you don't do this, the selection committee will not be totally convinced you would do well in their internship.
3. You have clear goals, and include leadership goals.
Many times I read the goals paragraph of personal statements and they are very general or wishy-washy. Students will say that they are interested in a wide variety of areas and they will use the internship to decide what is best. While this seems like a safe approach, it is better to commit to clear, specific goals then to leave it open-ended or unoriginal. For example, having your short-term goal be to get an internship and a long term goal to become a dietitian will NOT set you apart from the rest. Maybe you don't know exactly what you want to do, but you want to show the selection committee that you have some idea of the direction your career could go. This really shows how passionate you are for reaching some of these goals in the future and how passionate you are about becoming a dietitian. Bonus points if you share some ways you hope to be a leader in the field--what internship doesn't want to train future leaders!?
4. Your DICAS is free of any grammar or formatting errors.
Simple mistakes, incomplete sections, and grammatical errors can all leave a bad impression on the person reviewing your materials. With competition so fierce, you don't want something that is easily avoidable to ruin your hard work of getting good grades and finding awesome experience. Make sure you get your application materials reviewed by someone. Print out all your materials and review slowly to catch any errors. It helps to not wait until the last minute, too!
5. You explain why you want to go to that specific program.
Don't use reasons like "the variety of rotations" or "a fantastic teaching hospital" to describe why you want to go to the program. Rather, choose specific rotations that line up with your own experiences and goals. If you can't think of 3 good reasons, then consider whether or not that really is the right program for you. Of course, if you are limited to certain internships by location or cost, then this may not be as possible to do, but at least explain what unique factors about their program you are most interested in. And yes, you can have slightly different versions of your personal statement for each program you apply to!
Jenny Westerkamp, RD is the founder of All Access Internships (AAI). AAI turns RD dreams into reality, helping thousands of dietetics students get matched to dietetic internships by providing free resources, personalized application coaching. Visit www.allaccessinternships.com!
How To Write A Winning Dietetic Internship Personal Statement
Your personal statement is the first impression a dietetic internship will have about your personality, goals, qualifications, and worth. This may be your only chance to demonstrate your ability and your interest in the program to hopefully move forward and get an interview. Therefore, the personal statement needs to be relevant, honest, enthusiastic, and memorable.
Here are 6 tips on how to write a winning dietetic internship personal statement.
1. Show Your Worth. Wanda Siu-Chan, MS, RD, Dietetic Internship Director/Lecturer at San Francisco State University department of Consumer & Family Studies/Dietetics, advises to elaborate on 1-3 work or volunteer experiences which enhance your qualifications and commitment to the profession. Don’t just re-write what is already in your DICAS application or resume. Instead, explain in more detail and/or describe a specific experience to help the committee learn more about you.
2. Sell Yourself. Jenny Westerkamp, RDN, Owner of All Access Internships, recommends to be comfortable with “selling” yourself and telling the committee how great you are. You are not bragging. If you don’t express your self-worth with specific examples and evidence, the directors will not know how special you are.
3. Be Specific. Vague reasons on why you want to attend the program such as “fantastic teaching hospital” or “variety of rotations” is too generic, informs Westerkamp. Instead, choose specific rotations that line up with your own experiences and goals. Try to think of 3 good reasons why that particular internship program is the right fit for you, suggests Westerkamp.
4. Follow Directions. If the internship program asks a specific question for the personal statement, make sure you answer the question providing specific details and examples. Also include ways you hope to be a leader in the field, proposes Westerkamp.
5. Edit. Edit. Having a spelling, grammar, or organizational blooper demonstrates a lack of attention to detail and writing ability, both of which are important qualities to securing an internship, per Siu-Chan. Remember, this is your first impression to stand out and make an impact, so make sure to diligently proofread your personal statement.
6. Two sets of eyes are better than one. Siu-Chan concludes to have an instructor, professor, or fellow student read your personal statement and provide feedback. You don’t have to take all the feedback, but it may be helpful. Many colleges offer assistance at the career center or writing/tutoring center, informs Siu-Chan.
Remember, your personal statement will pave the way to whether you get an interview or not. A well-planned, well-researched, and well-written personal statement can land you your dietetic internship of choice.
For further resources check out:
All Access Internships Personal Statement Coaching Package
Successfully Ace Your Dietetic Interview
Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics (AND) Dietetic Internship Process
Sarah Koszyk is founder of Family. Food. Fiesta. A family-based wellness program and blog focusing on recipes, family health tips, and videos with kids cooking in the kitchen. She is a Registered Dietitian and Nutrition Coach specializing in sports nutrition and adult and pediatric weight management. Connect with her on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest, or LinkedIn.