Last week, I finished my first rotation of my dietetic internship (Foodservice management and school nutrition education)! It felt like the 13 weeks flew by!
Some of the things I did during my rotation included:
-Menu planning: created a 6-week cycle menu for the school district; input menu items into PrimeroEdge system (similar to that of NutriKids); assigned menus for the district; created new recipes (and taste tested them); ran nutrient analysis of the menu items to ensure that they met the guidelines for SLP.
-Kitchen work: observed/participated in ordering, inventory, serving, food prep, temperature/sanitation check, etc.
-Lesson planning: taught a 3-day lesson for 6th grade students; taught a fitness/nutrition lesson for 1st and 2nd graders; in-service for staff members.
-Research project: I created a new chickpea salad, had it taste-tested, and put it on the menu. I was trying to determine if increasing student involvement in the planning of new items and implementing the changes they made, would increase consumption.
-Miscellaneous work: answered phone calls in the office; organized nutrition materials, made posters for events, etc.
Things I learned throughout my rotation:
1. Always, always, always ask questions! Sometimes, I felt like I was bothering people asking them; however, everyone was really friendly and there to help. The internship is to help you learn more about nutrition, so asking questions about things you are not sure of is needed.
2. Be confident in what you know and how you speak about it. If you sound unsure, people won’t trust what you say. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, you know more than you think!
3. Before a food service rotation (in a school district), brush up on food safety, the school lunch program, and food science (I definitely didn’t study much on food science until I realized I needed to know some for my rotation).
4. Nurses would call a lot about carbohydrate counts for menu items in order to give insulin to the kids with diabetes. If you find yourself answering these types of questions be sure to have menu nutritionals on hand (I found nurses to be calling last minute and frantic).
5. Get as many resources as you can from the RD or FS manager. My RD had a SafeServ book, Inman’s Review, and miscellaneous lesson/training binders, which will all be helpful in studying for the RD exam. She also mentioned she only used Inman’s Review for the RD exam and passed the first time.
6. Take the initiative on projects and tasks whenever you can. Not only will this give you great experience, but, it will also show the staff you are committed and a team player. Even doing small tasks without complaint are noticed.
7. If you find downtime in your rotation, read food service related materials (I found this to be helpful when taking my comprehensive exam) and/or ask what else you could be doing to help.
8. Be flexible! Things will not always go to plan. Just roll with the punches and do what you can to make the situation run smoothly.
9. Accept the changes that happen. This kind of goes along with number 8. One day you may have planned to do x, y, and z; however, you may get something new thrown your way. An employee (or 5) might call out, and you need to help in the kitchen. A truck may have broken down and you need to drive the manager around. Anything can change in foodservice! (By the way, these things have all happened in my rotation).
10. Be ahead/aware of all your assignments/tasks. You never know when something will come up that relates to an assignment. It really helps to have your assignment sheet on hand.
Overall, I had an amazing rotation. It was stressful at some points; however, in the end, I wouldn’t have changed anything. I really feel like I developed/fine tuned my leadership and interpersonal skills.
Hopefully, my experiences will help you in preparing/finishing your food service rotations!