10 Tips to Make Your Internship Application Stand Out
Are you a nutrition student with a dream of becoming a registered dietitian? Is the only thing between you and your dream career landing that dietetic internship?
With application season around the corner, you may be on the hunt for tips to help make your application stand out and to be at the top of the interview and hopefully, internship list!
As a successful applicant in the 2018 season and current dietetic intern, today's article is a reflective piece on how I completed my application, prepared for interviews, and performed in interviews.
The goal? To (hopefully) make the process a little smoother for you.
In order to achieve it, I've prepared two similar, yet different, top 10 lists.
In these lists, you will find the 10 things that I did ( some of which I don't think you should do) and the 10 things that you should DEFINITELY do to stand out, based on my experiences thus far.
I truly think that you will be able to learn a lot from both of the lists.
10 things I did (Some of which you shouldn't do)
I contacted my referees a little late– I wish I had asked them more in advance so they had more time to know what to expect and could easily fit it into their schedules before the deadline. A stressed referee can lead to a stressed applicant! The deadline approaches quickly!
I chose referees strategically – I personally chose those who knew me in various aspects and could comment on my personality, work ethic, performance in the field, etc. Choose someone who can highlight your skill set best, too!
I wrote my referees name incorrectly –If you’re applying through DC, you’ll be prompted to write your referees name and email address into the system. Make sure you clarify with your referee how they’d like to be addressed and how they will sign off on their confidential references. For example: If you know your referee goes by their maiden name or married name at times, make sure you know which name they prefer to use for the confidential reference. This way, you both write the same name in the system. Sounds simple, but important to remember to prevent any potential unwanted confusion amongst the selection committee.
I volunteered with organizations later in my degree - I wish I had taken advantage of volunteer opportunities earlier in my degree. Get started ASAP!
I took advantage of resources for resume building - Your school library, writing centre, or career services may offer sessions to help with resume building. Sometimes having a professional read over our resume can further help us highlight our strengths.
I downloaded the 175 common questions from All Access Internship to prepare for my interviews - Even though this is US based, I believe these questions helped me prepare answers for common questions and allowed me to prepare experiences in relation to performance.
I completed my application to the best of my ability - I completed each section knowing there were going to be better applications than mine. I did not just ‘throw together’ a cover letter or resume because I ‘might not get one’- I worked endless hours on my application with the intention that this letter and resume will be on the top of the list and will help me receive an interview. A positive mindset is key!
I compared myself to others - Do not compare yourself to others. Everyone is unique and every person brings different strengths to the field (including yourself). Comparing your application to others can psych you out. You don't need that unnecessary stress!
I stressed over every word - It’s important to choose your words wisely and to write a great resume and cover letter. However, stressing over every word up to (and including) ‘sincerely’ is something I wish I did not do – it made the process a little more stressful than need be. Trust yourself and if you have questions on cover letter tips, don’t hesitate to reach out to mentors who can help!
I did not celebrate after completing each step of the application process - I made the mistake of not celebrating each step. After completing my application, I thought, " Okay, what do I do next? How can I prepare for potential interviews now?" After you complete one step, you are allowed a break! Relax for the evening and give yourself a pat on the back for finishing your application! Then, move on to the next step – preparing for interviews.
10 things you should do:
Organize your application documents
I had 3 folders on my computer of my top 3 internship choices. Within each labelled folder contained the specific program brochure, my cover letter for that program, and any notes taken from internship panels related to that program. This will help keep you organized at a time that can be stressful and will help you stay focused on catering your cover letter to that specific program.
Read the Program Match Application carefully, thoroughly, and completely
Every step to the application is very specific. While peers, classmates, and friends can be a great support during this time, it is important to understand the process in its entirety. I also found the FAQ section on the Dietitians of Canada website helpful.
Do your research
Check out all possible internships you are eligible to apply for. If you’re applying through Dietitians of Canada, pick your top 3 internship choices from the list carefully and know what each program is looking for. It’s important to address every cover letter to your program of choice.
Ask referees very early in advance
If you’re thinking about who you would like your referees to be - ask them now! There is no time to waste. If you’re applying through Dietitians of Canada, make sure you ask your referee for their email and their preferred name and place it into the system correctly.
Provide your referees with resources
All your referees do not need to be from the nutrition field, but it is important to provide them with some information on internship and the criticality of this potential placement to becoming a registered dietitian. It may be as simple as sending your referees a short compiled list of what the programs look for in general, or what a dietetic internship is.
Volunteer with organizations that interest you early in your degree. If you’re in your final year with little volunteer experience, reach out to organizations that match your interests and get started! It is never too late.
Prepare for your interviews
Sounds obvious, right? When I say prepare I mean, write out your responses to every single general question. You may not be asked each question you prepare answers for, but you can use those answers for related questions. Stay tuned for a blog on internship interview tips coming in early 2019!
Don’t be afraid to be personal
If you have a story, tell it. If there is a personal reason as to why you chose to study nutrition, don’t be afraid to share it – that’s where your passion stems from and who doesn’t love a passionate, genuine nutrition student!?
Go to every internship panel and workshop
Leading up to application season there may be internship panels and info sessions held at your University or surrounding area. Attending will allow you to gain valuable information from current and past dietetic interns, program coordinators, and more. It may help you know what to expect for interviews, what each program offers, and may allow you to connect with the coordinators of the programs (Where you may have the opportunity to make a good first impression - take advantage!)
Celebrate every step
Last, but certainly not least! It sounds simple and may not be something you feel will help you succeed, but it's important to take breathers and acknowledge the fact that you've completed such a big, important application. A celebration can be as little as going out for a movie, having dinner with your friends, or just relaxing! You deserve it after all this hard work!
Above all, be yourself and stay positive!
A huge thanks to the very talented blogger, writer, and registered dietitian, Andy De Santis, popularly known as Andy the RD, for helping me out with this piece through his writing service, Kaleigraphy! I highly recommend you check out his blog here!
Thanks for stopping by!
Until next blog,