To celebrate National Registered Dietitian Day I wanted to take some time to put pen to paper or in this case fingers to keys and give my RD story a place to live on my website. As I had somewhat of an unconventional first job as a dietitian I want to share more about it for anyone who might be working towards becoming a registered dietitian or wanting to know more about what routes besides clinical exist for registered dietitians.
I’m so passionate about helping others in the field because I know I wouldn’t be where I am today without the other dietitians who took the time to do the same for me.
My Journey to RD
My interest in dietetics started at the end of high school. I was curious about the connection between what you eat and how you feel as I started noticing how I felt when I ate fast-food everyday versus when I didn’t.
I really didn’t know much about the profession (or how many science classes it would involve!) when I set out to become an RD but looking back on it, I am 100% sure it was the right choice for me!
Not all collages have dietetic programs, so I began to research ones in the midwest that had it.
I ended up deciding to go to Michigan State University. I totally fell in love with the campus during the fall when I went to visit and it just felt right, plus of course they had a dietetic undergraduate program!
One of the highlights and reasons why I picked their dietetic program was because they offered an international food laws study abroad program to London, Paris, Geneva, and Rome. Needless to say it was the trip of a lifetime where I had some of the best food and wine I’ve ever had in my life!
Lucky enough to match on the firs try, I completed my dietetic internship through the Aramark distance dietetic internship program. This program was great because although it’s considered a distance dietetic internship program you are not responsible for finding your own preceptors. Preceptors are selected by Aramark at the sites you visit and for the community rotation I was able to pick my own preceptor in an area I wanted to learn more about.
What was also super nice is that I was able to request sites around the suburbs of Chicago that I could commute to. My parents live in the suburbs so being able to stay at home during that year was a nice way to save money.
To prepare for getting matched I used resources from All Access Dietetics and would highly recommend their services!
Just days after wrapping up my dietetic internship in Chicago, I hopped on a plane to New York City to start my first job working and a dietitian in public relations for Ketchum PR (I saw the opportunity through a listing on All Access Dietetics).
I’d never been to NYC before but was sure I would love it and the excitement of embarking on this new adventure and working at a PR firm that represented some of my favorite food brands felt like a dream come true.
Up until this point, I had no idea that dietitians even worked in PR and to be honest I really didn’t know what PR was either! Fake it till you make it right?! I just knew I liked writing, stuff with social media and that I wanted to be behind the scenes of a food brand.
I started as an account coordinator working on behalf of clients like siggi’s, Frito- Lay, Hello Fresh and a couple other smaller foods brands. My responsibilities varied based on the client but at my level I was drafting social media content on behalf of the brand, pitching media, coordinating brand events, helping with internal plans and activations and being a liaison between dietitians who worked in the media and the brand (spoiler alert: this was my favorite part of the job).
I also scheduled TV segments for dietitians to feature our clients in and began coordinating dietitian influencer campaigns for recipe creation on behalf of different brands too. This was right when influencer marketing was just starting to take off and we were really starting to see how powerful of mention of a brand was on social media.
As I continued to work and dive a little further into the world of public relations, I couldn’t quit this feeling of unfulfillment that was coming from working behind the scenes for clients instead of being the one getting to deliver the information if that makes sense. I was coordinating the influencer programs and TV segments for other dietitians all the while wanting to be the one actually getting to do those things!
Once Upon a Pumpkin was just a side hussle at this point, but seeing how dietitians could work with the media, create recipes, and take on different entrepreneurial roles really ignited a passion inside of me that knew I wanted to do that for myself one day.
In the fall of 2017 those thoughts became action as I sat in my manager’s office telling her I knew I needed to go out on my own now, at least try or I’ll always wonder what if. Needless to say if you’ve ever left a role that ultimately the right fit for you, you know there’s no regrets when you listen to your heart.
I’ve never looked back and regretted that decision. Sure, there have been days when I’ve thought things could be a lot easier if I had a traditional 9-5 job but the reward that comes from being your own boss is truly indescribable!
That said working in PR helped me hone in on a lot of communication skills that no doubt have contributed to my success as an entrepreneur. I learned how to pitch the media successfully, build relationships with brands and so much more that I do every day working for myself. So if you’re debating if you should start working for yourself right away or work at a more traditional job first, I would definitely have to encourage the latter.
Gaining business skills definitely comes from experience and I also don’t think I would appreciate working for myself as much as I do if it wasn’t for knowing what it felt like to work on someone else’s terms first.
What’s Changing About Becoming a Registered Dietitian
It’s important to note if you are reading this and considering becoming a registered dietitian, starting on January 1st 2024, a graduate degree will be necessary to sit for the CDR exam instead of just a bachelor’s degree.
Questions?! Don’t hesitate to reach out to me via email or leave a question on this post! Like I said, I love helping students learn more about all the different routes and paths there are for dietitians to take!