If you are interested in going the internship/RD route right after college, here are a few tips to help you guide you through that horrible process.
Your personal statement is one of the most important things that internships look at. This is the piece of yourself that they get to see before interviewing you. Internships have changed a bit. Instead of just hearing your life story and how you got into dietetics, they also want to see leadership skills and professional experiences. The internships you apply to will have a section on their website that lists the questions you will need to include in your personal statement. My advice is to start with a short blurb (no more than a paragraph) about yourself, how you got into dietetics, etc. Then, continue by answering the questions asked and really highlighting your accomplishments in dietetics. Start early on your statement. It might take a while to figure out what you want to write about. Also, get as many people as you can to proofread it!
This is the system you will use to upload all documents for each internship you are applying to. This includes: resume, personal statement, transcripts, references, additional application materials, etc. DICAS has a lot of help on their website (I definitely got good use out of that). There is a certain date when DICAS will open for each internship round, so keep track of that date.
D&D Digital Matching
This is the best part of the internship! Not! D&D is a system where you rank all of your internship choices IN THE ORDER THAT YOU WANT THEM. That last part is very important. There was a lot of confusion when I was applying over whether or not you ranked the internships in terms of which one you thought you had the best chance of getting. That is not the case. If you want to be double sure, you can always call D&D. They are very nice and used to dealing with crazy dietetic students.
Basically how it works is you rank your internships from 1-5 (or however many you have). Let’s say your first choice is Aramark. You think it is kind of a stretch, but you apply anyway. You’re second choice is maybe an internship you know you could get (Marywood University). When matching day comes, if you got Aramark, you will be notified that you did. If you didn’t get Aramark, but your second choice (Marywood) listed you as an intern, you will get that one. If you had also gotten your 3rd, 4th, and 5th internship, you will not know. It stops at the internship, based on how you ranked them.
How Many to Apply To
Dietetic internships are very competitive and down right stressful to apply for. I always tell people it was worse than if you applied to grad school. So, that being said, you really don`t want to go through this process more than once.
I applied to 7 internships. 2 were places that I wanted, but were a stretch for me. 3 were ones I was pretty sure I had, but couldn`t be positive. 2 were places I knew I would get but didn’t really want (safety schools). On-site programs in your area are often hard to get into (require high GPA and a lot of experience) and tons of people, all very qualified, apply. Distance programs often require a lower GPA but still experience. Coordinated programs often have the lowest GPA requirement and experience. Know yourself and your abilities before picking your internships.
There are many factors to consider when looking at internships. There were a few programs that I thought were equal in how they were structured. I then ranked those schools based on how much their tuition was. It is quite costly to apply to internships. D&D, DICAS, and your internship programs all have separate fees. Total, I would factor in about $300. Between 4 and 7 programs is a good range.
Spend time looking at internship programs and their admission requirements early. Some programs offer more community experience, so if you are interested in community work, check them out. Some programs have longer in-patient experiences. Get a binder of your internship materials started early. Start working on your references and your personal statement. If you get prepared early, you will be less stressed out when the application time comes.