The COVID-19 Pandemic has suddenly caused practically every aspect of life to change-including dietetic internships. What was is like to do an internship rotation entirely from home?
Working from home was actually enjoyable for me. When I am comfortable in my space and have few distractions, I find that I am very efficient. Even working remotely, it was a breeze to complete projects and communicate with the FoodMinds team in multiple ways, from direct messaging and video conferencing to good old-fashioned phone calls. Human interaction was a priority, as it was deliberately built into each workday. We also had a virtual ‘Coffee Talk’, which was held everyday to simulate morning greetings in the office, so that everyone could catch up with each other in an effort to stay connected.
While doing a fully remote dietetic internship is not the norm, it has its perks. One major benefit for me was not having to wake up in the early hours of the morning to get ready for work and a long commute. I, unfortunately, have never had an even semi-close commute for any of my internship sites. Getting the extra two hours of sleep in the morning is making all the difference.
What was your favorite part of your internship experience?
Interning at FoodMinds opened up a whole new world to me. My favorite part of the internship was learning about non-traditional career paths for registered dietitians (RDs), such as nutrition communication and RD roles in the food industry and regulatory settings. I also appreciated having been involved in major brand projects and learning about what companies like FoodMinds can offer them.
One project I worked on required me to compile all the major cannabis conferences this year, so the FoodMinds team could attend and become well versed on this up and coming market for clients. This research project introduced me to just how massive the cannabis market is and its potential for future growth.
I also got the opportunity to watch virtual webcasts, one in particular on the affects the Covid-19 Pandemic had on the foodservice industry. This webcast and others allowed me to learn more about the many sectors of the nutrition world.
What’s the #1 insight you’re taking with you as you continue down your career path having been FoodMinds first fully virtual intern?
Even though I did not get the opportunity to meet the FoodMinds staff in person, I will remember their efforts to make me feel welcome and like a part of the team. The FoodMinds team formally introduced me to all staff with an email that included a brief bio and picture of myself, invited me to all of their virtual get-togethers, and assigned a preceptor that checked in with me throughout the week.
I also picked up some pro tips that made my work-from-home experience much more enjoyable:
- Make sure your work environment is conducive to you being efficient; whether that is a clean area, music or candles – anything that will make you comfortable and keep you focused.
- Make it a point to keep your favorite tea, coffee, or creamer on hand to get your day started on a good note or for a quick pick me up.
- Get up to walk around every 30 min-60 min to stay energized. Just standing up will not cut it!
- Take an actual lunch break to clear your mind and keep some structure in your day.
- Interact! Do not isolate yourself completely; join in on video calls and chat messages with colleagues and fellow interns.
How has the current pandemic changed the way you think about the nutrition profession?
I never thought of the nutrition profession as being a key player in a pandemic, but dietitians and nutrition experts are making great strides. Nutrition professionals have been actively posting on various social media outlets, making videos and recording podcasts to offer fact-based tips and support to followers. The voice of the nutrition professional is so essential at times like these to counter misinformation on diet and supplements with science-based information. I feel that it is also important that health professionals, nutrition students and interns like myself be active on social media to help spread the correct information. This experience has underscored the importance of RDs as communicators and educators!
Where will we find you next?
I am overjoyed to say that I have five weeks left until I am able to sit for my Commission on Dietetic Registration exam to become a registered dietitian. To be completely candid, where I will be completing those last five weeks of my internship is still a mystery. Most internship sites are in clinical or community settings, which currently only allow ‘essential workers’ on the premises. As you might have guessed, interns are not considered ‘essential workers’, so, to all interns, in all professions, that have their internships put on hold or in question: do not stress, we will get through this! You are welcome to connect with me on LinkedIn.
- Name: Adelia Nofal
- Undergraduate School, Program and Class Year: Northern Illinois University, Bachelors of Nutrition and Dietetics May 2019
- Current Program: Northern Illinois University ISPP Dietetic Internship
- Current Kitchen staple: Coffee Brewer
- All-time Favorite Food: Chocolate Croissant