Preparing for your dietetic internship application begins the moment you decide to become a registered dietitian. Any dietetic intern who has gone through the DICAS application process can probably tell you the activities and volunteer opportunities they participated in early on (or wish they had), the study strategies they followed to achieve a good GPA, and the relationships they fostered along the way for glowing letters of recommendation.
So no matter where you are in your RD2Be journey, here are some BWS DI faculty advisor-approved tips for preparing your dietetic internship application.
This early on, you probably just declared your major or are still exploring whether you want to study nutrition and dietetics to become a registered dietitian. Even if you aren’t 100% sure this is the career path for you, we highly recommend enrolling in an introductory class in nutrition and getting involved in your school’s student dietetic association. Connecting with other students about their experience as a nutrition student may help you understand if studying nutrition is for you. Your school’s student dietetic association may even have volunteer opportunities for you to get involved in which are great resume builders and also a fun way to meet others interested in nutrition.
Another way to explore the nutrition and dietetics field early on while building your dietetic internship application is to schedule shadowing hours with a registered dietitian! You may experience firsthand what a day in the life of a registered dietitian looks like in a variety of areas such as clinical, pediatric nutrition, private practice, foodservice, public health, etc. To go about this, we recommend asking around for family or friend connections, searching on LinkedIn for nutrition professionals in your area, or even asking your DPD director if there are alumni who would be open to hosting a nutrition student for a shadowing day.
While you still might be early on in your collegiate career, no matter what, we highly recommend prioritizing your grades. This is the best time to establish study practices and also demonstrate a good work ethic for professors who one day may be asked to provide a letter of recommendation for graduate school or your dietetic internship application. More than likely, these will be the years where you are faced with some of the more challenging science courses (we’re looking at you Organic Chemistry). Stay focused on achieving good grades, avoid skipping classes, and also utilize tutoring services and your peers for support. It is never too early to start building the foundation for a good GPA that may one day set you apart from the rest.
Top DI Application Tips for First/Sophomore Year:
- Establish solid study habits to achieve good grades.
- Sign up for nutrition and dietetics student groups.
- Look into shadowing and volunteer opportunities to learn more about the field.
By junior year, you’re well into your coursework and collegiate career. Having completed most of your prerequisite classes, you are probably primarily focused on acing all of the core nutrition subjects.
Hopefully, by now you have also joined your student dietetic association (if not already in a leadership position) and your local chapter of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics. Not only is it good to get involved and join these types of groups and organizations, but finding opportunities for active participation and leadership will look great on a dietetic internship application!
If you have time to spare in your busy schedule, we also highly recommend looking for part-time employment and/or picking up a regular volunteer gig. Both of these options demonstrate that you are responsible, can manage multiple tasks at once, and care about gaining hands-on experience in the field of nutrition and dietetics. Here are some part-time positions ideal for a nutrition student:
- Dietary aide at a long-term care center or hospital
- Foodservice worker in your college dining hall
- Virtual assistant for a private practice registered dietitian.
If you don’t have time during the school year to pick up volunteer work, we strongly encourage using your summer and holiday breaks to gain volunteer experience. Here are a few ideas to help you get started in looking for volunteer positions:
- Community foodbank
- Meals on Wheels
- Food and nutrition volunteer programs through your college/university.
Last but not least, we want to remind you that you will be required to submit three letters of recommendation for your dietetic internship application. These letters should be from academic or professional contacts, so having an employment or volunteer supervisor write a letter of recommendation is a great addition to any letters written by an academic advisor or professor. Forming good relationships now will only make asking for a letter of recommendation that much easier come time to complete your application.
Top DI Application Tips for Junior Year:
- Keep striving for good grades, especially in your core nutrition courses!
- Stay involved in nutrition student groups and organizations, plus seek out leadership positions if you can.
- Adding a nutrition-related part-time position is a great way to build experience for your resume.
- Utilize summer and holiday breaks to gain volunteer hours if your schedule is too demanding throughout the year.
- Build quality relationships now with your professors and work/volunteer supervisors so you’re not scrambling when it’s time to ask for letters of recommendation.
Senior Year/MS Student
Your academic journey is almost complete! In the year leading up to your dietetic internship application, you will be busy finishing up classes and possibly even working on a master’s thesis if you’re an MS student. This is no time to develop senioritis! So, no matter if you are a student finishing their master’s before applying to a dietetic internship or if you’re someone looking to complete an MS/DI option, it’s never too early to start preparing your dietetic internship application.
For reference, the DICAS application typically asks for the following:
- General personal information
- Academic history
- College coursework
- Licenses and certifications
- Personal Statement
Did you know? BWS DI no longer requires a supplemental application. Just submit your Proposed Rotation Schedule along with the above DICAS application materials for consideration.
Here are the tips we recommend for preparing your dietetic internship application with a suggested timeline so you’re not clicking submit on the day of the DICAS deadline:
- Research which programs you’d like to apply to and attend their open houses if available. (6 months-1 year)
- Schedule out all application requirements and deadlines far in advance, then work backward. (6 months)
- Are you applying to a distance program? We recommend starting to look for your preceptors and rotation sites as early as possible. (3-4 months)
- Sign up for the DICAS application platform. (3 months)
- Sign up for the D&D Digital matching platform. (3 months)
- Get to work on your resume. (2-3 months)
- Think about what sets you apart and highlight those attributes/qualities in your personal statement. (2 months)
- Request your transcripts with enough time for them to be sent/received in time. (1-2 months)
- Ask for letters of recommendation with enough time for those individuals to complete and don’t forget to send thank you notes as well! (1-2 months)
- Ask for feedback on your resume and personal statement from several people including family, friends, professors, and supervisors. You may even consider seeking professional resume assistance from trained professionals. (1 month)
- Proofread! This is your time to put your best foot forward so don’t risk missing grammatical errors or typos. (<1 month)
- Make sure all areas of your DICAS application are completed before submitting! (<1 month).
Note: these timeline recommendations are purely suggestions and you may need to adjust based on your personal situation.
Top DI Application Tips for Senior Year/MS Student:
- Do your research first and don’t be afraid to reach out to your DPD Director or a DI Program Director to ask questions.
- Create a list of application deliverables depending on the program(s) you’re applying to.
- Don’t procrastinate on getting started as some deliverables require time to complete.
Preparing your dietetic internship application can be a challenge, but with the right preparation, you can eliminate some stress and make sure to put your best foot forward in your application materials. If you plan to apply to BWS DI, make sure to check out our Application Resources page or sign up for BWS DI Office Hours for 1:1 application support!
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.