Maureen Daugherty, MS, RDN, LD is not only the Marketing Manager of the Be Well Solutions Dietetic Internship Program but is also a former intern. Learn how she became a registered dietitian and why she chose the BWS DI program for her dietetic internship.
Becoming a registered dietitian wasn’t my initial career path but nutrition has been an interest of mine since I was in high school. I chose to pursue business and marketing during my undergrad mostly because I enjoyed the creativity that can come with marketing, but also the limitless job opportunities. After graduation, I joined the marketing team at Vitamix, which if you’re not familiar is a well-known kitchen appliance brand, especially in the health and nutrition space. I loved marketing a product related to the health and nutrition industry and realized I had found my niche.
Over time, my interest in nutrition wasn’t just an interest anymore. I wanted to be a subject matter expert in nutrition and not just in marketing. I decided to return to school to get my master’s degree and pursue becoming a registered dietitian.
Because my undergrad education lacked the science prerequisites for me to jump into my nutrition courses, I needed to do some catch-up work first, which I did through a local community college while I worked full-time. Attending microbiology and chemistry classes after a full workday was proof enough that I was committed to pursuing this new career no matter what it took. When the time came to get started working on my DPD courses, I enrolled full-time at Kent State University, which is about an hour southeast of Cleveland, Ohio.
I absolutely LOVED my coursework. I had never been so engaged in classes before and truly enjoyed learning about nutrition in a way that wasn’t googling information or reading about it on social media. Surprisingly enough, my favorite classes ended up being the micronutrient and macronutrient biochemistry classes because I found learning how nutrients were digested, absorbed, and utilized to be the most fascinating process.
As I approached the end of my DPD and master’s coursework, it was time to start applying for dietetic internships. My goal was to start my dietetic internship as soon as I received my DPD Verification Statement so I could sit for the RD Exam that much sooner. That also meant finishing my master’s degree alongside the first few months of my dietetic internship, but I was extremely determined to stay on schedule so I could be back in a job as soon as possible.
Because I was applying during the fall match cycle, my options were limited but despite that, I knew I wanted to pursue a distance internship for the ability to network with potential employers in my area. Luckily, I already knew of a distance dietetic internship program because of my time at Vitamix. Be Well Solutions was the corporate wellness service provider while I was there, and I had learned from their website that they offered a dietetic internship. With my interest in corporate wellness and familiarity with the organization, the Be Well Solutions Dietetic Internship Program was my first and only choice for a dietetic internship.
Luckily, I matched with BWS DI on Match Day! I was so thrilled and truly looked forward to getting started as a dietetic intern. Much of my excitement was also due to my rotation schedule. I got to work with many organizations in the Cleveland area, which I hoped would establish a solid career network for me after graduating from the program.
Here’s a glimpse at what my rotation schedule looked like:
Originally, I had my emphasis rotation with another corporate wellness organization in the Cleveland area but due to scheduling conflicts, I needed to find a different preceptor. BWS DI was super helpful in helping me secure this rotation during my dietetic internship and I was fortunate for the experience I had because of my interest in nutrition communications.
Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, my cohort attended Orientation virtually (which is now the norm for all BWS DI cohorts). We had a jam-packed few days learning more about the program and the curriculum as well as hearing from fantastic guest speakers who left me feeling inspired to get started in my rotations.
Between finishing my master’s degree and working on my rotations, I had never felt busier, but it was nice to have variety in my day-to-day schedule as I would bounce between classes, rotations, and working on upcoming assignments. Even during my busiest weeks, I never felt truly disconnected from the program and my cohort as there were regular touch bases, email communications, etc. These helped me feel engaged while also giving me the independence to do my own thing and have experiences that were authentic to me and my future career interests.
One of my favorite experiences was being able to participate in Michelle Obama’s Pass the Love Campaign during my rotation with the Cleveland Metropolitan School District. This was truly a unique experience and something I likely wouldn’t have been able to partake in if it weren’t for having chosen a distance internship and selecting my own rotations.
Tip for any dietetic internship applicants: ask potential preceptors if they have any interesting upcoming projects they’ll need help with so you can best align your rotation schedule!
During my 10-month internship (this was before BWS DI shortened their program to 8 months), I graduated with a Master’s in Science from Kent State University and had 5 wonderful rotations with preceptors I felt so fortunate to learn from. Truly, a WILD 10 months of my life but I could not believe how fast the internship flew by. By Exit Class, I was ready for a break before diving into studying for the RD Exam but I felt prepared, as the program had provided some great resources.
Fast forward 2 months and I successfully passed the RD Exam on my first attempt! I couldn’t believe I had finally realized my dream of becoming a registered dietitian. I had to keep looking at my score sheet to re-read that I passed and it wasn’t a fluke! I no longer had to study for the RD Exam and trust me, that was an amazing feeling. If you’re looking for RD Exam study tips, I definitely recommend checking out this blog post.
Looking back, I am very grateful for all the experiences I had while pursuing my master’s degree and completing my dietetic internship. No matter which path you take, there will be good days, bad days, exciting opportunities, and some challenges along the way. But, I would not be where I am today without them.
Have a question? Leave a comment below, or send us an email at firstname.lastname@example.org! Don’t forget to check out our other posts on the BWS DI Blog for helpful tips during your dietetic internship and beyond.