We interviewed our coaches and are sharing their best application advice they tell their clients, their own application story, any mistakes they made, and how they managed their stress. In addition, they’ll share their favorite moment as a dietetic intern and what they are doing now as a dietitian!

 To work with an AAI Coach, visit the GET MATCHED PROGRAM page and get someone in your corner during this stressful process! 


Katie Braun MS, RD, LD, CNSC

WHAT IS YOUR BEST ADVICE THAT YOU GIVE YOUR AAI CLIENTS APPLYING TO DIETETIC INTERNSHIPS?

Determine what you want from an internship and research programs till you find a good fit!  Start your research early and don’t be shy to ask lots of questions about the program.

WHAT WAS YOUR PERSONAL DI APPLICATION “STORY”?

During my undergraduate work, I began to develop ideas of what I wanted out of my internship experience (pursue a Masters in Nutrition, gain a strong clinical background, etc.).  After deciding what I wanted, I was able to narrow my internship search and I became aware of the Veterans Affairs (VA) program.  Their programs offered many aspects of an internship I was looking for.  Once I decided to pursue the VA programs it was really looking at location from there.   I applied for two VA programs and was grateful to be accepted into my top choice!

HOW DID YOU GET THROUGH THE STRESS OF APPLYING?

Staying organized during the application process and starting the process early really helped manage the stress of the situation for me.  For example, I provided professors with all the requested information in advance for writing letters of recommendation and researched the program to be able to speak to why I was interested in them in my letter. Keeping on top of the details helped make the process run smoothly.

WHAT MISTAKES DID YOU MAKE WHEN APPLYING TO DIS?

I’m not sure if this is a mistake per se, but in retrospect, applying to only two programs may have limited me.

WHAT IS YOUR MOST FAVORITE MEMORY AS A DIETETIC INTERN?

In the program I completed, interns complete a staff relief rotation prior to graduation.  My favorite memory from my internship is working with my fellow interns during this experience feeling like a “real” dietitian and realizing what an amazing year of learning we made it through! 🙂

 

WHAT DO YOU LOVE ABOUT BEING AN RD?

There are multiple facets of being a dietitian I enjoy.  I’m very grateful to be working in an area of nutrition I have such interest.  I find critical care and nutrition support bring challenges every day.  As a dietitian in this area, we have the potential to impact patient outcomes with the implementation of evidenced based practice and interdisciplinary team work.  Critical care medicine (including nutrition interventions) is evolving daily with new research.  I enjoy the continuous learning this area of nutrition offers.

Through my position, I also have the daily opportunity to teach dietetic interns, pharmacy students, and even medical residents! The opportunity to work with students is something I very much enjoy.  Students, although they are there to learn, they also teach me so much.


Laura Falconi, RD

WHAT IS YOUR BEST ADVICE THAT YOU GIVE YOUR AAI CLIENTS APPLYING TO DIETETIC INTERNSHIPS?

Pursue opportunities that will set you apart from other applicants and show who you are.  Volunteer with an organization that you’re passionate about, strive for leadership roles in your favorite clubs, take extra classes beyond the minimum requirements; initiatives such as these stand out when applying for dietetic internships.

WHAT WAS YOUR PERSONAL DI APPLICATION “STORY”?

While I always aimed for good grades during my time at Clemson, I really found my stride by involving myself in extracurricular activities and pursuing leadership roles.  I was the President of the Food Science and Nutrition Club, the student representative for the regional dietetic association, a student ambassador, and a student representative for the Dean’s Advisory Board.  I loved being a part of so many organizations and getting to represent the nutrition program at Clemson.

When it came time to apply for dietetic internships, I applied to a whopping seven programs.  Truth be told, I liked so many programs, and I wanted to give myself the opportunity to continue to research the internships so I could rank them in a way that I felt content with.  I worked hard on writing seven individual personal statements and asked my academic advisors, siblings, and peers to edit them. I also made sure to reach out to the director of each internship.  I asked for informational interviews and attended as many open houses as possible.  I also made sure to send individual “thank you” notes after any open house or interview.  On match day, I am so happy to say that I was matched with Cornell University.  I will never forget that exhilarating moment when I was matched; it truly felt like all that hard work had paid off right then.

HOW DID YOU GET THROUGH THE STRESS OF APPLYING?

I got through the stress of applying by starting the process early.  It was a relief to know that I had given myself plenty of time to work on the DICAS application.  I highly recommend starting to research programs early because when the time comes to start applying, you’ll be familiarized with your options and what you need to get done to create an impressive application.

 

WHAT MISTAKES DID YOU MAKE WHEN APPLYING TO DIS?

My biggest mistake when applying to dietetic internships was obsessing over how to rank the programs. While the program ranking is something that deserves a lot of careful consideration, it really doesn’t deserve the amount of obsessing that I did. My advice here is to put the majority of your energy into making an impressive application, and to follow your heart when you rank the programs.

WHAT IS YOUR MOST FAVORITE MEMORY AS A DIETETIC INTERN?

My favorite memory as a dietetic intern is working on projects with the other interns. Coming into the internship I thought that I hated group projects, but I soon realized that working on an assignment with a group of people who  love nutrition as much as you do is a real joy. Throughout the internship I worked my hardest and produced my best work to date, and I have the women in my intern class to thank for that.


Adrienne Mangroo, RD

WHAT IS YOUR BEST ADVICE THAT YOU GIVE YOUR AAI CLIENTS APPLYING TO DIETETIC INTERNSHIPS?

Be confident! You have worked (well, should have worked!) very hard in your academic, work, and volunteer lives. Don’t be afraid to show it! So many applicants are afraid of coming off as “cocky.” There is a fine line between cocky and confident, but having the guts to write about how you are an exceptional worker, student, and person (and great future RD) will get you more points than the applicant who can’t express themselves in the same way. I always tell my clients, “If the selection committee can’t see that YOU feel that you’re the best candidate, then why should THEY feel you are the best?”

WHAT WAS YOUR PERSONAL DI APPLICATION “STORY”?

I applied to the VA San Diego Healthcare System (1st choice), UCSF, Los Angeles VA, and Bay Pines VA. I was matched to my first choice, VASD. I had experience in food service (catering, cafes, etc…many years as catering captain/manager) and community nutrition (health outreach associate – taught diabetes classes, cooking classes, etc). I made myself competitive by expressing my personality while describing my work and academic experience. I was sure to highlight my strengths by describing how I excelled at various tasks and exceeded my teachers’ and managers’ expectations. I used each program’s mission statement/value words in my statement to show how I would fit into the program’s organization.

HOW DID YOU GET THROUGH THE STRESS OF APPLYING?

I just pushed through, counting down to February 15th (and April 1st- Match day) every day! It is a very stressful time, but I started early (started on my personal statement in September…and probably had about 100 drafts before my final final one!) which allowed me to have some down-time. If I skipped a day or two working on my statement, I didn’t beat myself up over it because I knew that I’d started early enough to allow for it.  My friends and I often spent hours at the library (misery loves company!), which was nice because we could bounce ideas off of each other and spend time together while working on our apps.  It is important to be able to talk to your friends about the application process, but equally as important to have time together where you are NOT talking about it! Give your brain a rest from DICAS!

WHAT MISTAKES DID YOU MAKE WHEN APPLYING TO DIS?

Honestly, I do not feel I made any mistakes during my application process. I started early, worked on some facet of my application almost every day, and I was not afraid to ask for help. Some of the mistakes my peers made included waiting until Christmas break to start the application, not starting DICAS until January, not allowing someone else to proofread resumes and statements, and procrastinating in regards to obtaining letters of recommendation. Timing really is everything! Having a lot of time to work on your statement means you have time to truly perfect it and tweak it until it is perfect for you.

WHAT IS YOUR MOST FAVORITE MEMORY AS A DIETETIC INTERN?

…Aside from the day I finished?! I loved almost every day as an intern, but I enjoyed going to ICU rounds the most. My hospital was a large teaching facility, and each day I learned so much at rounds from the attending physician and the resident physicians. Being in rounds was the first time I really felt like I was part of an interdisciplinary team (and I felt like I was on the TV show Scrubs…who wouldn’t want that?!), and really made me realize just how passionate I am about working in critical care.

 

WHAT DO YOU LOVE ABOUT BEING AN RD?

I  love being an RD because I know I am an effective part of the healthcare team. At my hospital, I am the first RD they’ve had that has been really proactive and gone out of her way to make the physicians respect the role of the RD. I work with the doctors and nurses constantly, and many of the “old-school” physicians are learning from me and realizing for the first time that nutrition does play an integral role in outcomes. While I love that I’m teaching my peers (and patients) daily, I also love that I am constantly learning from the physicians, nurses, and other healthcare professionals.

And, while I love that I’m doing my part to help my hospital appreciate the role of the RD, at the end of the day, I love that I’m helping my patients while doing what I love to do (as cheesy as that sounds!). Being an effective RD really does take LOVE and PASSION for your specific role. The beauty of dietetics is that there are so many areas that RDs can work in. Getting through the application and internship processes will give you the freedom to discover your niche and practice in the area about which you’re passionate.


Katie Proctor, RDN

WHAT IS YOUR BEST ADVICE THAT YOU GIVE YOUR AAI CLIENTS APPLYING TO DIETETIC INTERNSHIPS?

Invest the time tailoring each letter of application to the internship. Now is not the time to take shortcuts and copy/paste the name of the internship into each letter, especially not for your top choices. Imagine the committee reviewing hundreds of applications in a short period of time. Everyone starts to look the same on paper. How are YOU going to stand out? In my opinion, it’s by showing that you’ve researched the program and making a case for not only why they are a fit for you, but why you are a fit for them.

WHAT WAS YOUR PERSONAL DI APPLICATION “STORY”?

I had very nontraditional work/internship experiences, and those were a big part of my story. I tied those into my strengths of taking initiative and asking for what I wanted, which is how I landed most of those positions in the first place. I then shared how I would use those strengths to be a positive contributor to the internship program, based on that program’s specific focus.

HOW DID YOU GET THROUGH THE STRESS OF APPLYING?

Start early! Do not wait until the last minute to gather your materials and start writing your letters of application. You want to have the luxury of time so that you can research, get feedback, edit, etc. to get your letters in the best possible state before submitting them. Lack of preparation and a “rush job” is clearly communicated to the application review committee.

WHAT MISTAKES DID YOU MAKE WHEN APPLYING TO DIS?

I only applied to 4 internships, each were pretty competitive. Knowing what I know now, I probably would have added a few more to be safe.

WHAT IS YOUR MOST FAVORITE MEMORY AS A DIETETIC INTERN?

The lifelong friendships that I made. And of course, dressing up in a banana suit and mom jeans – don’t ask! You’ve got to be ready for anything, especially when it comes to entertaining and engaging audience.

 

WHAT DO YOU LOVE ABOUT BEING AN RD?

I love the variety and flexibility. You could change your job so many times while still using your degree! Not many people can say that.


Moe Schlachter, MS, RD, LD

WHAT IS YOUR BEST ADVICE THAT YOU GIVE YOUR AAI CLIENTS APPLYING TO DIETETIC INTERNSHIPS?

I make sure to tell all of my clients that no experience is insignificant. Too often an applicant might be inclined to bury a respectable part-time job in the back of their application simply because it wasn’t “nutrition-related”. The DI application process is not a contest of who acquired the most clinical nutrition hours; it is an evaluation of the applicant as a whole. Applicants would be doing themselves a huge favor by highlighting transferrable skills like organization, communication, and adaptability that may have been attained through a non-dietetics position.

WHAT WAS YOUR PERSONAL DI APPLICATION “STORY”?

When I applied for dietetic internships, I was very interested in relocating my family to Houston. I applied to all DIs in that area, including the highly competitive Michael E. DeBakey VA (who accepted just 10% of applicants that year). I understood that the only “strategy” to employ while ranking internships was to place the internships in order of preference and let the computers sort out the rest. I was thrilled on match day to see that I did in fact match into the program and was happy I did not rank anything above where I absolutely wanted to be. My background included a previous degree in business management, a culinary degree, and experience in the culinary field. Though my grades were in great shape, I feel that by highlighting the diversity of my skills I was able to stand out to the director of my program.

HOW DID YOU GET THROUGH THE STRESS OF APPLYING?

The DI application process is very stressful indeed. Gathering information early on in the process will help with organizing and planning. A mentor or coach can help through guidance and reassurance. Finally, making sure to take breaks from the process with friends, family and/or a significant other will help keep stress levels at bay.

WHAT MISTAKES DID YOU MAKE WHEN APPLYING TO DIS?

The biggest mistake I made as an applicant was not gathering all of the information up front. My lack of foresight made for a very stressful final few months before the application deadline. It took a tremendous effort and lots of long nights to get my application in presentation condition in that amount of time. I encourage applicants to tap into the resources found here at AAI as soon as they start thinking about applying to internships.

WHAT IS YOUR MOST FAVORITE MEMORY AS A DIETETIC INTERN?

As an intern at the Houston VA my favorite memory, which I am fortunate to continue to live in my current position, was serving United States Veterans. The tangible sense of appreciation that is conveyed to our nation’s heroes is truly remarkable and is what makes this job so special. Another great memory from my internship was graduation day. It was certainly bittersweet, as our group had grown quite close over the year, but it was a fantastic sense of accomplishment. Addressing my class as Chairman, receiving my certificate, and the post-ceremony party are moments that will stay with me forever.

 

WHAT DO YOU LOVE ABOUT BEING AN RD?

The state of nutrition and food affairs in this country and abroad requires a lot of attention and improvement. I feel that we as dietetics professionals are needed to guide policy, and conduct research that is needed to make progress. Food is the most fundamental piece of the human health conversation and we are its primary advocate.

Learn more about each coach on the MEET THE TEAM page!