5 Summer Things You Can Do to Improve Your DICAS Application

Happy Tuesday! Hope everyone’s doing well today and fully enjoying their summer, especially the recent high school grads. My summer truly began last week with a summer class and a summer job (can you say chaotic?). My life might be a little busy right now, but in some ways I have to appreciate the push towards productivity.

Speaking of summer, this time of year can be very different from person to person. I for one definitely appreciate the chance for a little downtime, but I also look forward to it because I get to enjoy my hometown and friends, save up a little money, and maybe find some time for things I wouldn’t do during the semester, like preparing for a DI! Applying for the DI is a process, or so I’ve been told. (I’ll have to share my story with y’all when I reach that bridge.) All the boxes must be checked, whether that’s literally ensuring you have the correct paperwork, or having enough experience to be presentable. Summer’s an excellent time to tend to both, especially the latter one, and so if you’ll excuse the clickbait-y title, here are some ideas for preparing for your dietetic internship applications.

1. Get a job!

Working over the summer isn’t a revolutionary idea, but that doesn’t mean it’s a bad one. For one thing, I personally don’t mind the extra money. But a job has more benefits besides extra cash and bullet points on a resume. It shows your future DI director that you use your time well. (You could technically spend all that time at home binge-watching The Office for the hundredth time.) If you’re juggling other parts of life along with a job, it shows good time management skills as well.

Oftentimes, DI applicants wonder how important it is to find a job related to dietetics. Honestly, it depends on the school. When I talked to the DI director at my school, she’s said that she places more weight on balancing activities and life than what kind of job a student has. But other schools might care more. My advice is that if you find a job in foodservice, at a hospital, or with a dietitian, that’s great! Getting paid to learn and apply skills that will help your future is an incredible win-win. If you can’t or are happy with your current job, consider finding other ways to apply your skills. This leads me to our second idea.

2. Volunteer your Time

Another thing the DICAS application asks for is volunteer hours. From what I understand, the application is very thorough when it comes to asking about volunteer time and if you have some extra time, why not donate it to an organization that would appreciate it? If you’re struggling to find a place that’s nutrition-/dietetics-related, I’d suggest searching for food banks/pantries, which are relatively common. If you’d like other options, look into volunteering at hospitals, WIC centers, or home-delivery services such as Meals-on-Wheels.

3. Take a summer class

Many dietetic internships have a GPA minimum, for your overall coursework and/or for your DPD courses. The DI applications can be a bit cutthroat with that 50% chance of getting matched, so if you’re worried about your GPA being a bit lower than it should be, consider taking a summer class! Depending on how much you have on your plate for the summer, a summer class, whether online or in-person, can be a great way to give your GPA the boost it needs either by replacing an old class grade or taking a useful elective.

4. Research Internships

If you know that a dietetic internship is in your future, why not start figuring out which one? Just like researching colleges, you’ll find internships you like and dislike, but it’s up to you to figure out which few would ultimately be the best fit for you. There’s many different components of a DI including location, concentration, cost, and culture. Most of these components can be found on an internship’s website, but some things are best discovered in person or through interviews with current interns! Take the time to look through a complete list of dietetic internships and begin to decide what works or doesn’t work for you.

5. Create a passion project

Unfortunately, because of the low supply and high demand for DIs, sometimes really good students don’t make it into a program in their first match period and that can be scary. If you’re worried that you aren’t going to stand out or that you have something else on your application that might count against you (lower grades than you might like, lack of volunteer hours, etc. etc.), consider creating a project on your own! Unlike the previous tips, I can’t offer much in the way of specifics here because you have to put your own spin on it. Ask yourself what inspires you? What needs around you need to be met? You could start a program at the local food pantry, run a food donation drive, raise awareness for a nutrition-related cause, or even start a blog on dietetic internships! 😉

At the same time, don’t worry about reinventing the wheel. Internship directors would like to see that you have drive and creativity and really care about the field. If you find something that inspires you within nutrition and can communicate that to a director, I’d say you have a fair chance.

What are your plans for this summer?

Until next time,
Emmalee

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