Guest Post:  Jenny’s Top 5 Tips For Getting Matched to a Dietetic Internship

Jenny Westerkamp, RD, CSSD is the founder of All Access Dietetics, a community and coaching service for future dietitians. Since 2008, they have helped thousands of clients get matched to dietetic internships.

With a match rate of less than 50%, It is difficult to get a dietetic internship these days. You hear about getting a lot of experience and keeping your GPA as high as possible, but what else can you do to stand out among the competition? After coaching hundreds of students individually, I have seen some strategies, both major and minor, that have helped students gain the edge they needed to get into a dietetic internship. Here are my top 5 unconventional tips for getting matched:

1. Make sure your personal statement is not generic.

You don’t want your personal statement like ANYONE could write it. Answer each question in a way that only you can. Too often, I see letters that are generic and the answers are not well thought out. It will take a lot of brainstorming to decide how to creatively answer each question, but directors will be able to tell that you put in this extra effort!

2. Every sentence of the personal statement sells you in a convincing way.

Many students have a hard time really “selling” themselves. They feel like they are bragging, and it is uncomfortable. But, guess what? If you don’t tell them how great you are, they will never know! There needs to be concrete examples and evidence to back up your skills and preparation. If you don’t do this, the selection committee will not be totally convinced you would do well in their internship.

3. You have clear goals, and include leadership goals.

Many times I read the goals paragraph of personal statements and they are very general or wishy-washy. Students will say that they are interested in a wide variety of areas and they will use the internship to decide what is best. While this seems like a safe approach, it is better to commit to clear, specific goals then to leave it open-ended or unoriginal. For example, having your short-term goal be to get an internship and a long term goal to become a dietitian will NOT set you apart from the rest. Maybe you don’t know exactly what you want to do, but you want to show the selection committee that you have some idea of the direction your career could go. This really shows how passionate you are for reaching some of these goals in the future and how passionate you are about becoming a dietitian. Bonus points if you share some ways you hope to be a leader in the field–what internship doesn’t want to train future leaders!?

4. Your DICAS is free of any grammar or formatting errors.

Simple mistakes, incomplete sections, and grammatical errors can all leave a bad impression on the person reviewing your materials. With competition so fierce, you don’t want something that is easily avoidable to ruin your hard work of getting good grades and finding awesome experience. Make sure you get your application materials reviewed by someone. Print out all your materials and review slowly to catch any errors. It helps to not wait until the last minute, too!

5. You explain why you want to go to that specific program.

Don’t use reasons like “the variety of rotations” or “a fantastic teaching hospital” to describe why you want to go to the program. Rather, choose specific rotations that line up with your own experiences and goals. If you can’t think of 3 good reasons, then consider whether or not that really is the right program for you. Of course, if you are limited to certain internships by location or cost, then this may not be as possible to do, but at least explain what unique factors about their program you are most interested in. And yes, you can have slightly different versions of your personal statement for each program you apply to!