Remember What You Have is Once All You Wanted

You know how we’re all go go go and onto the next thing before we even stop for a second to breathe? I rambled on about this in the last blog so if you haven’t checked it out yet you can here, but today I’m looking at things from a perspective that you HAVE to consider.

A while ago I came across a quote (that I can’t find right now so don’t haggle me for trying to infringe copyright – I’m not) that went something like this…

Why do we get caught up in our lives and keep saying with a heavy sigh and tone of regret, “I have to”? “Ugh, I have to work that day”, “I can’t, I have to clean the house”, “When I get home I have to study”, “I have to take the dog out to walk”, etc. etc. Think about the magic that will happen when we turn that ‘I have to’ into “I GET to”.  

I GET to go to work.

I GET to clean the house I live in.

I GET to study and obtain an education.

I GET to take my doggie out. (Throwing shade at all of you out there with doggies because I’m hella jealous)

Think about it: The day you got that job you were probably bouncing off the walls. The day you got accepted for that application to lease or buy you were definitely celebrating. The day you got into that program or secured that funding to support your education and future was crazy exciting. And don’t even get me started about the day you got your dog… I’m not even going there. But just think about it – those things were BLESSINGS. And still are!!!

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They were once things you wanted SO bad and now we shrug at them like they’re the biggest pains in our butts. We’re all guilty of it though, myself included!

When I started thinking about this for the first time my mind jumped right back to when I was preparing to move for my graduate program. I was preparing to move from Nova Scotia to Toronto and getting an apartment was tough s#$!. In such a competitive market nobody would give the girl in another province the time of day. Oh, and that girl is on a budget? Oh, and wants to live by herself? Ouuu, good luck.

Long story short, someone up there was looking after me and somehow I was granted the best apartment (with a cherry tree in the yard might I add!!), the best landlord, and all within budget. Such a blessing.

However fast forward to me actually living in Toronto. It was tough. It hit me like a ton of bricks when I realized the city was not for me – for more reasons than one. It came with such hardship that I lost sight of that blessing pretty quickly. Then I became overwhelmed with school work – I was constantly with my head in a book. Constantly looking over my shoulder afraid of the big city and scary people. Constantly thinking in the future – what I had to do next, what networking event to go to, what blog post to write, what assignment to get a start on, etc. etc.

I was so caught up and at times so frustrated, that I almost forgot that everything I had was exactly what I once wanted [and worked my butt off for].

A pivotal moment.

Amongst the bustle one evening, I stopped for a moment in the doorway of my bedroom. Standing there I could see the kitchen and living space to my left, the bedroom and bathroom to the right. It was dimly lit. It was quiet. It was beautiful. 

It was mine.

Then it hit me: I did it. I got exactly what I wanted.

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I just stood there to take it in. For the first time in a long time, or maybe ever, I stood back to look at what I had and appreciate it, and praise myself for getting it. Instead of wallowing in thoughts of disappointment, fear, and misery living in the city, I thought about how lucky I was to have this beautiful space under the care of such a kind landlord, for such an incredible opportunity and education.

So I encourage you all to take a look today at your surroundings from a different lens. How badly did you once want what you now have?

Relax, Reflect, Reward Yourself

How often do you do that? Relax, reflect, reward yourself?

If you’re like any of the other millions of dietetic students, interns, or professionals, likely not very much. I’m going to get stereotypical here for a moment (I know, I know, you shouldn’t do that) but SERIOUSLY aren’t we all like type A?! Okay, maybe not all but come on, the dietetic profession is so darn competitive that it is engrained in us to WORK WORK WORK. VOLUNTEER. EAT. STUDY. SLEEP. REPEAT. Ridiculous.

To get a dietetic internship these days you practically have to be superwoman/man..  and do super people relax, reflect, reward? Well, I don’t know, but that’s sure as hell not what they’re doing in the movies!

My point here is that it is super common for us folk to overwork ourselves. We work extra hours. Do the extra credit. Take the extra caseload. Always with our eye on the next ‘thing’. The next assignment. The next application. The next promotion. The next opportunity.

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I know I’m not alone when I finish a task and my immediate thought is OKAY ONTO THE NEXT.

In this post I am preaching what I am trying [and getting better at practicing]. Relax, reflect, reward yourself. I wrote about the ‘reward yourself’ bit when I wrote the ‘Celebrate every step’ post but the big part I’ve been dedicating even more time into lately is the reflection piece.

How can you even comprehend what just happened when you rush onto the next? How can you acknowledge and appreciate all the time, effort, and energy you just put into something when you blow past it so quickly? When you take the time to relax and reflect – that is to look back on what just happened and think about how far you’ve come – you will experience a world of difference.

A world of difference in your gratitude.

A world of difference in your self-talk.

A world of difference in your confidence.

A world of difference in your mood for the day.

Take the time to think about how far you’ve come.

An example I’ll give you is this –  Brace yourself for some real talk: I cried the whole way home for the first couple weeks of my first RD job.

Yep. It’s not what you think though… They were tears of happiness. A day after completing my internship my contract started with Acadia University, the university where I completed my undergrad, to teach one of their undergraduate courses. An absolute dream come true. Since I had to drive an hour back home after work every time, I was basically forced to relax and reflect, and with that, the tears came.

Reflecting on how far I had come since being a student at Acadia (just a mere two years prior) was astounding. Did I have shit to do when I got home? Oh yes. Was it a learning curve? Oh yes. But you know what I did when I got home those days? Put my feet up, wiped my tears away while smiling and laughing at myself, and rewarded myself with a glass of wine and some quiet time.

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Did I neglect all my responsibilities? No. Did I fall behind in everything I had to do? No. But did I embody every ounce of joy that came with such an experience? Absolutely. By rushing onto the next task, the immense emotion that came with reflecting on my accomplishments never would have come out. And what a memory to have. I am sure when I look back on the experience years from now I will think to those car rides when I could hardly see through the tears.

To relax, reflect, and reward yourself doesn’t have to take long. I promise you that it will offer more benefit than it will burden, and I am so grateful for those long car rides for reminding me of that.

I challenge you to take 30 seconds of your day now to ponder this:

Where were you two years ago?

How far have you come in your skill set, mindset, experiences, and accomplishments since then?

Now, how will you reward yourself?

 

XOX

Does it Feel Out of Reach? Then Stretch.

Today I’m going to pass advice onto you that was passed onto me and totally changed my outlook and my approach to job hunting.

If it feels out of reach, then stretch.

You know how most job postings want you to have 3+ years of experience? You know how grad schools want you to have a ridiculous GPA? Well, basically what I’m saying is F#$! ’em. In the nicest way possible.

If you’ve been in this seat where you feel restricted by the listed qualifications and assume the position is therefore out of reach, JUST STRETCH. APPLY. APPLY. APPLY.

I have been blown away by the professionals who’ve told me that many of the listings don’t mean s#$!. Well, I mean, some can be rigid, but I think we all assume that ALL the listed qualifications are rigid and if we don’t meet them 100% we are not considered. That couldn’t be less true.

I’ve heard SO many stories now of people who’ve applied for positions they’ve felt were out of reach. One of the most successful dietitians I know told me when she applied for the Master of Public Health program at the University of Toronto (very prestigious and very competitive) her GPA was well below what was “required”. Out of reach right? You know what she did? Stretched. Applied anyway. Put herself out there and killed the interview. Graduated top of her class in the program and is out in the workforce now making waves.

If you have a strong skill set and a hell of a lot to bring to the table then bring it. Even if you lack in one or few areas if you totally make them fall in love with your other assets, then how could they say no?

The same goes for job postings. Don’t sit around and sulk about how everyone wants you to have experience and its impossible as a new grad, just stretch. Apply. Bring confidence. Kill it. It would surprise you how many successful professionals surround you who didn’t 100% fit the mold initially. We all have to start somewhere right?

Happy stretching folks! You got this.

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xox

CDRE Part 2: Exam Structure and How to Prepare

Hi again, Brie here! Welcome to Part 2 of my blog on the CDRE. If you haven’t yet checked out part one, you can by clicking here. This time, we’ll be going into a little more detail on the format and structure of the exam. Before we begin, I want to stress that most of this information can also be found in the CDRE Prep Guide.While I’ve highlighted some of the important points, I strongly suggest you still read the guide, too!

The CDRE Prep Guide

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You know how new appliances come with a disclaimer that says “please read the instruction manual before operation”? Well the CDRE comes with a similar suggestion, except this time you really should open it and read it thoroughly! It may seem tedious, but the CDRE prep guide covers everything you need to know about writing the exam. Every. Single. Thing. I’m talking so much detail that on their list of things you can bring in with you, it even lists your glasses!

Exam Format

Before you dive into studying, it’s important to understand the format and structure of the exam. The CDRE consists of 185 multiple-choice questions, which you have 4 hours to complete. There are some independent questions as well as passage-based questions with 3-6 questions related to a single case or scenario. It’s done completely through a computer-based system, but you do have a white board and marker to help you work through your thoughts. The good thing is that you definitely don’t have to waste time re-learning how to draw the Krebs Cycle!

Cognitive Categories

The exam is broken down into three cognitive categories, so different questions test varying levels of cognitive ability. When reading the exam questions, look for words that indicate the cognitive category. For example, the word ‘integrate’ indicates a higher cognitive level than ‘identify’.

  • 15% of questions demonstrate broad knowledge
  • 35% demonstrate comprehension of knowledge
  • 50% employ critical thinking (analyzing, interpreting, and applying knowledge)

Practice Competencies

The CDRE tests performance indicators from one of five practice competency areas. Pay close attention to each question and what it’s really asking, because it can be tricky. For example, the setting might be in a food service kitchen, but the question is actually testing a communication-related performance indicator. It’s really important to identify which competency area is being tested since it can influence your answer! (See How to Read an Exam Question in the prep guide).

  • 15% Professional Practice
  • 13% Communication and Collaboration
  • 35% Nutrition Care
  • 15% Population and Public Health
  • 22% Management

Knowledge Topics and Tips

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            If you’re here looking for a specific list of what to study, I’m sorry to disappoint… Not only is that impractical, I’m also not allowed to discuss any exam specifics! I can, however, give you a few tips that might guide your studying decisions and better prepare you for taking the exam:

  • Check out Appendix G: Knowledge Topics of the prep guide. This is the closest thing you’ll find to a study guide! Remember, while it is a long list, it’s not all-inclusive.
  • Crack open old textbooks and read over internship notes. I found my nutrition care and food service management textbooks especially helpful.
  • Know your clinical conditions. As indicated by the distribution of the competency areas, the exam is heavy on nutrition care
  • Do your research on clinical areas that you weren’t exposed to yourself during internship placements. The CDRE will touch on pretty much every condition and clinical area in some way, so be prepared for that!
  • Don’t memorize conversions or equations. All the calculations will be done for you so that you can focus on just applying your knowledge!
  • Be familiar with common lab values. While the normal range may be given to you, you should still be able to interpret the lab values an entry-level dietitian would deal with.
  • There might seem to be more than one right answer. When this happens, use temporal clues to figure out what answer is the most correct. For example, “What should the dietitian do first?”.
  • Do the practice questions in the exam guide!!! They are perfect examples of actual exam questions and will help you get used to the wording.

Exam Scoring

            Something I really struggled with heading into the exam is not knowing what “score” I needed. It’s not surprising – throughout our student careers, the value of a number or letter grade is drilled into our heads. However, the CDRE is simply pass or fail. It measures if you demonstrate minimal competence, not HOW competent you are. The actual passing score for the exam is not released, and since you don’t know what “score” you’re aiming for, it’s totally normal to leave the exam not knowing how to really feel about it. But the good news is, it’s over! There’s no sense in dwelling on it, or else you’re in for a long 6 weeks.

Remember, you wouldn’t have a degree and an internship under your belt if you weren’t capable of passing this exam! And for those who don’t, that’s ok too, it happens. Just pull yourself together and kill it on the second round!

Good luck and happy studying!

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CDRE Part 1: How to Register and What to Expect

In Canada, to become a dietitian you have to write the Canadian Dietetic Registration Exam (CDRE), so Brianna Kean, one of our previous guest bloggers is here to prep us! Thanks Brie!

We all know the journey to becoming a dietitian isn’t a short one. After five (or more) years of education and practicums, we finally emerge ready to make the world a healthier place. While this is definitely a means for celebration, there’s still one more step between you and that precious title– the Canadian Dietetic Registration Exam!

While applying for the CDRE isn’t quite as grueling as applying for internships, it can still seem intimidating at first. To make this last step of your journey a little easier, I’ve outlined some basic info that might help you along. But before I do – please note that this was my experience as an applicant in Nova Scotia. Every province has its own regulatory body, and so the processes and documents may be a little different.

Applying to Write the CDRE

In Nova Scotia, the first step to writing the CDRE is applying for a temporary membership with the NSDA. Since gathering documents can take some time it’s best to start as early as you can! Here are a few things you might need to gather before completing the online application:

  1. A verification letter from your institution – my internship director wrote and sent this letter for me.
  2. Your university transcripts– you can usually order these online through your school’s website and have them sent straight to the regulatory body. Keep in mind that this may take a few weeks.
  3. A copy of your birth certificate or citizenship document.

Be prepared to pay the membership/exam fee upon submitting your application. If you’re able to pay via e-transfer like I was, be careful to send the right amount, which I did not.The unexpected $50 refund months later was a nice surprise though!

Scheduling an Appointment

            Once everything is accepted, you’ll receive confirmation of your temporary membership and be assigned a membership ID. Congrats – this means you can now legally work as a dietitian in your province!!! Within a couple of weeks, you should get an email from the external exam company, with instructions on how to pick a date, time, and location to write your CDRE. 

            The CDRE takes place over a 6-day period. My advice is to choose your exam time carefully. At first, I planned on choosing an early date so I could get it over with ASAP. But because of the limited options available in my area, I ended up booking mine for the second-last day. Looking back, I’m grateful that I ended up having a few extra days to study!

Exam Day

            Fast forward to exam day. You’ve (hopefully) put weeks to months of your spare time into studying for this one test. Don’t worry, I’m not skipping over the exam prep period, I’m devoting a whole other article to that! For now, my advice is to make sure you’re well-rested and well fed on the day of your exam. Your brain is going to need lots of extra fuel today!       

Before leaving the house, make sure you have two pieces of ID with you. Also, leave with PLENTY of time to arrive and find the right room, accounting for any unexpected delays (ex. railroad crossings that make you sit in agony for ten whole minutes). It’s suggested that you arrive 30 minutes early so you can get registered and be ready to begin on time.

On my exam day, I woke up feeling slightly nervous but with an overwhelming sense of relief that it would soon be done and over with. However, I also woke up to a winter storm. In a place that shuts down with a single snowflake in the forecast, I knew my exam would be canceled. *Instant panic*. How do I reschedule it? What if they can’t reschedule me within the exam window? What if I have to wait until the next sitting, in 6 months?! If this happens to you, don’t worry as much as I did. The exam company will get in contact and reschedule your exam for you!

I hope this helps you wrap your head around the CDRE process – keep an eye out for my next blog CDREPart 2: Exam Structure and How to Prepare!

Guest Post: For Applicants Who Haven’t Landed an Internship Yet

I don’t think it ever seriously occurred to me that I actually wouldn’t get an internship the first year I applied (or the second for that matter). Even if it did, everyone around me told me not to worry about it, that I’d have something.

Unfortunately, they were wrong.

And once I didn’t have an internship spot that first year, there’s a handful of thing I wish someone had told me. (Spoiler alert: eventually I did get in on my third time applying, and I now work as a Registered Dietitian, and just passed my CDRE!).  

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Hi, I’m Mairead and this post is for all the applicants who there who haven’t landed an internship yet.

Here’s what would’ve been helpful for someone

to tell me four years ago:

This is not the end of the world. Yes, it feels like the end of the world. But it’s not. No matter who else is doing what or where you end up, it’s not the end of the world. 

You’re allowed to have a pity party. You don’t have to move on to the next step yet. Not getting an internship when you want one is so so so hard and it sucks so so so much. If you’re stuck on that for a bit, that’s ok.

Your education up to this point is not wasted. Whether anyone has told you so or not, the world does need nutrition majors. Not just as dietitians, but in other roles too. Whether you end up working in nutrition or not, remember you have education in science, counselling, physiology, psychology, foodservice management and food science, to name a few areas. You can apply this to other areas besides dietetics. 

No one else has the answer for what you’re supposed to do. You can ask every faculty advisor and career counselor, but they won’t be able to tell you exactly what to do or exactly what steps to take in the next year to be successful applying again. You do have to go figure that out for yourself.

You can go do anything you’re interested in! Instead of volunteering just for it to be on your resume, you can volunteer because an event or program sounds awesome and you have the skills for it! You can take courses or certifications in anything that interests you. These are the things that will give you more knowledge to pull on as an intern and will give you an edge applying for jobs both before and after internships. 

Focus on other things. Try new hobbies and take on new projects. If you’re not a student right now, you might actually have more time for these kinds of things. Enjoy that time. Don’t put your life on hold waiting for that internship. Move somewhere you want to be, take jobs you’re excited about, get engaged, get a puppy, keep moving. 

Meet people. Reach out to people who are doing cool things that you’re interested in and ask them how they got there. Be interested in their stories and have an answer when they ask you what you do or what you want to do. Tell them what you’re interested in. Tell everyone what you’re interested in. You want to be a dietitian because you love helping people and love food? What about it? Make sure everyone knows what kind of things you get excited about so when there’s an opportunity or a project, they want you in it. 

Don’t limit yourself because you’re not a dietitian (yet). Can you take a position as a dietitian or act within their scope? Obviously not. But that doesn’t mean whatever you’re doing is any less cool or any less important. 

You’re not a failure. You’re only failing when you’re not moving forward, whether that’s towards becoming a dietitian or towards something else, even if you don’t know what that is yet. As long as you’re trying to learn and grow and trying to find a path that you love, you’re not a failure.

If/when you finally get an internship: you belong here. You know your stuff. You have experience to pull on and you deserve to be here as much as anyone else.

You’re doing a good job and you’ve got this. 

 

 

 

Guest Post: Maude’s Reflection on the MAN Program at the University of Guelph

Here’s something I never thought I’d say: I’m a MAN, and I’m super excited about it.

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My name is Maude, and I’m writing today to tell you a bit more about the Master of Applied Nutrition (MAN) program at the University of Guelph. I received my diploma in the mail near the end of October, and that huge envelope stuffed in our tiny apartment-sized mailbox made me literally jump up and down. For me, the experience was so much more than building my toolkit of nutrition knowledge and resources, it was developing the personal skills I needed to succeed as a registered dietitian.

For many of you, as for many of us, exploring the options available to us after undergrad is an overwhelming and stressful project. It involves deciding where you’re willing to live, what sort of program you’re after, what experiences are make or break for you, and a million other things like distance from SO, family, and finances. These things are all important, and you need good information to make an informed decision.

The overview:

The practicum portion is broken down into three categories, or placements in: nutrition care, foodservices and management, and population and public health. For our cohort, a list of “streams” was created by geographic location and we got to choose our top 3. In the MAN program, each internship placement is attached to a semester and consists of 40 days. Each placement site has different needs in terms of how many weekly hours they require an intern, so some placements are 3 days per week, and some are 4. We went to class every Monday of the fall and winter semesters, from 8:30am to 5:30pm. In addition to the two semesters of classes, there is a research project runs the entire length of the program. It is organized so that each semester, one key phase of the research project is completed. These projects are pre-determined by the research advisor and you get to choose your top 2 or 3, and a topic will be assigned to you, and in my year, a partner.

The day to day:

Since all my placements were in the Niagara region, that’s where I decided to move when I began this experience. Because the program is course-based and practicum-based simultaneously, every Monday in the 10 week fall and winter semesters is spent commuting (for me) to Guelph for a 9-hour class day. This isn’t the case for all students in the cohort, in fact almost half of the placement streams made it possible to actually live in Guelph! I don’t need to tell anyone how terrible traffic can be in the GTA, so no need to explain why I was leaving home at 6:00am to be on time! Let’s not even get into driving home in rush hour traffic on a Monday night. Some placements had assignments to complete at home on top of the work day, and some did not. Class work was always on the back of my mind as I balanced group projects, individual assignments, and placement readings. Often, I ended up doing hours of work on the weekends, too. Not all placements are created equally! In my foodservice placement, I had a few weeks of being onsite for 7am, in primary care I was working 9-5, and in my community placement I was working evenings and weekends. There can be a lot of variety, but I hear that’s the spice of life.

The bonuses:

Do you need a vacation? Even though this is a very rigorous program where weekends become a thing of the past for weeks at a time, because it is semester based and each placement is 40 days, there are times when you can have 1 month to 6 weeks off depending on how many days per week your placements are. This is basically unheard of in any other practicum route!  

The research project in my year was in teams. It is can be very daunting to do an original research project on your own, but this made it so much easier! Not only do you have the support of an advisor, there is also a course, and a peer to back you up and see you through it.

Flexibility to diversify your experience – I got to tack on an extra placement to spend some time in inpatient and acute care. This was not built into my personal placement stream.

Three golden nuggets:

  1. Accept that this 1 year of your life is going to kick your butt, but it’ll be worth it. Get great at time management, self-motivation, flexibility, and improvisation.
  2. Nothing is worth losing sleep over, get those 7-8 hours and indulge in self-care where you can. A healthy you will make for a much more enjoyable experience.   
  3. Not everything you do will be for marks, and you’ll have to get used to the idea of working for the sake of self-development!

When I think back on those golden tips, it sounds like I had it all figured out when I was going through internship — definitely not! Those lessons and learnings are the key things I brought with me into my working life, though. Everything you learn about nutrition, coaching, and caring for others won’t serve you well if you aren’t your best self.

In an effort not to rant, I am happy to answer any further questions about this program!

Embodying Empathy

This post is for those who didn’t get an internship placement and could use a little more empathy themselves, those who got a placement and could be more empathetic to those who didn’t, and every other being who could make the world a better place by breathing more empathy into it… which is all of us. 

Firstly, 

What is ‘Empathy?’

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*Photo is not my own. Resource: https://www.lifehack.org/572189/empathy-sympathy-are-talking-about-the-same-thing

Sympathy is easy because it comes from a position of power. Empathy is getting down on your knees and looking someone else in the eye and realizing you could be them, and that all that separates you is luck.

– Dennis Lehane

In my own words, empathy describes that real human connection – that click – that comfort – when one person is going through something difficult and another listens, relates, and respects their feelings.

Think for a moment about a time when you shared something difficult with someone and they just didn’t ‘get it’….  

Now think about when you shared something difficult with someone and they totally got it.

What a difference in feeling hey?

Does this mean only somebody who has gone through the exact same experience as you can be empathetic? Absolutely not. I think it has more to do with that person’s ability to tune into human communication, verbal and non-verbal, and feel, even for a moment, even a fraction, of what someone else feels… whether that be because of reflection of a similar experience, or because of imagination. Either way, when one person puts themselves in the shoes of another and shows it, the power is remarkable.

So… Why does all this matter?

Remember last week when I wrote about things not to say to people who didn’t get a dietetic internship yet? Well, I feel like I left you a little high and dry, wondering what the heck you should do.

My answer: Be empathetic. Or at least, try through practice. I think to be empathetic in its truly full sense comes with time, practice, and the *sometimes innate* ability to tune into other people’s feelings. So how can you practice it, with others, and with yourself? Here are some quick tips to get you started, and I encourage you to read up further if this is something that is captivating for you.

Embodying Empathy For Yourself:

  • Don’t feel sorry for yourself – that’s sympathy. It’s OK to be sad, 100%, but please let it be deeper than that… be kinder to yourself than that
  • Acknowledge how you’re feeling, instead of ignoring it
  • Be understanding about how you’re feeling. This sucks. This hurts. This is tough. These are all true statements and your feelings about them are valid. They are okay. They are okay to have, so let yourself have them
  • Ask yourself what would make yourself feel better in the moment. This sounds silly because you are sort of talking to yourself in third person, but really, it kind of works. When you talk to yourself like a friend would, you are kinder to yourself. And kindness is what you need right now. Not questioning. Not ignorance. Not resistance. 

Embodying empathy for other people:

To be empathetic toward others means knowing your audience. (Again, my students are rolling their eyes because they’ve heard this so much. Hi guys!) But it’s so true. People seek comfort in various ways, and what works for one person does not work for all. Have you ever met an uber hugger? Have you ever met an uber hugger encounter an I’m-not-a-hugger-don’t-touch-me-ever type of person? Yep, that shits weird. Funny actually – my best friend and I are on polar ends of this, but thankfully we recognize it and make it work. One comforting the other with a hug just does not work – but for many people a hug can be the most comforting thing in the world, it really varies.

Here are some tips that you can apply regardless of if you are encountering a hugger or not (lol):

  • Acknowledge that this is hard for them. Don’t over-emphasize this point by always blabbering about how much things suck every time you see them, but at least in the first conversation, address the elephant in the room by acknowledging that things are tough and that you get that. By simply saying, “I know things are really hard for you right now. I can imagine XYZ is tough”, you have shown respect for how they’re feeling, you’ve validated how they’re feeling (so they’re less likely to resist it and the resistance is the most destructive part). You can decide where to go with the conversation depending on how they react to that.
  • Ask them if they’d like to talk about it. As heard from previous applicants, some feel like they need a lot of support and discussion about it, while some would like time to themselves before sharing their thoughts with other people. Both scenarios are totally understandable. To see which scenario is applicable, a conversation simply needs to be had.
  • Be aware of how they respond to you and use that reaction to inform your actions next time. Say you try to take an optimistic approach and spew out all kinds of inspirational quotes and TedTalks snippets, and your friend hardly looks up from their lunch… maybe optimism isn’t what they need right now. Save your inspo for later and try a different approach for now. Be hyper-aware of their verbal and non-verbal communications with you, to get a sense of what they need right now.

There you go folks, some quick tips to get you self-reflecting and thinking about how you can better communicate with people during this tense time. I’m no expert on sociology by any means but will happily remind you to please think before you speak ❤ 

 

XOX

Two people holding their coffee cups, distant and awkward

What NOT to Say to Your Friends Who Aren’t Placed Yet

Woah! That was fast. I hopped on here to write about transferable skills, thinking it would benefit those in the interview process for dietetic internships and masters programs, but look at that – the interview process is likely at its end and “Match day” is right around the corner! *Shutter*

Note: For those of you who may be new to the game and unfamiliar with this doomsday, erg, I mean ‘match day’, check out this post for some backstory.

This can be an incredibly exciting or gut-wrenching time. I personally felt both those emotions, sometimes simultaneously. Either way, it is an EMOTIONAL time, and especially on match day. Shit gets real this day. And you can cut the tension in the air with a knife. I think you know where I’m going with this… please, please, PLEASE, I am begging you please, be considerate of those experiencing immense emotion around you. Please be self-aware and empathetic. 

Some people will be better at this than others, no doubt, but what surprised me when going through the process was how hurtful people can be without even meaning to be. Hence the creation of this blog post: What Not to Say to Your Friends Who Aren’t Placed Yet. A huge thank you to those who collaborated with me in the creation of this post and shared examples of less-than-comforting things colleagues said to them post-match day.

“You can have my offer to ___ when I turn it down.”

Um OUCH!?! Even though this may have been said with sincere intention, can you imagine being on the receiving end of it? It feels crappy enough to be surrounded by peers who have multiple offers when you have NONE. Like, really crappy. Having them offer you their unwanted leftovers? Their charity? Their sloppy seconds? NO THANKS. Even if you wanted that placement, it just makes you feel super small to be reminded that it may only be yours if the real top applicants didn’t want it.

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“Maybe you can be a ___, ___, or ___.”

Again, may be said with the sincerest intention – your friend didn’t get an internship and you’re trying to remind them how smart they are and how many options are out there. But you know how it sounds to the receiver?

“Oh, too bad you’re not good enough to be a dietitian. That sucks because I am. You could be something else that’s easier like a ___, ___ or ___.”

YEP.

Having a conversation about a change of career path may be something to pull out down the road, but right now, in the midst of finding out that their plan A may be shot and their dreams are skewed, they likely aren’t ready to go there. And please don’t push them. Don’t push them to give up on dietetics now, or ever, if that’s what their dream is.

 

“OMG! I CAN’T BELIEVE I GOT ___!”

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Generally, the point here is just not to spew your excitement out all over those who are still patiently and nervously waiting for news. It is a very sensitive time for everybody involved, and your happiest day may be someone’s most heartbreaking day.

That dynamic is really hard to navigate because you don’t want to swallow your excitement and forget to celebrate yourself, but you also don’t want to crush someone else. Tough. My advice is to celebrate small-scale – sharing the news privately with a selected few.

Parading all over the university is bound to leave some of your peers in tears. Don’t be that person. 

“Oh, I’m sure it will happen.”

EASY FOR YOU TO SAY SALLY!

That is surely the thought running through the head of the receiver of this comment. I get it, you’re trying to be positive and that’s great, but the truth is you aren’t sure that it will happen. And we all know that, so please, don’t go there.

“What are you going to do now?”

Very similar to the above comment suggesting a new career path, the case here is that they likely aren’t in the headspace to have this conversation. 9 chances out of 10 their answer is a tearful “I don’t know.” Do you really want to be the one to elicit that? Give them some time to process this news and then to think logically about the next steps – they likely won’t be top of mind immediately.

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*Nothing*

This response was interesting to me but makes sense. A few colleagues chimed in and said their friends who avoided the topic entirely made them really uncomfortable. And I get that! When there’s an elephant in the room, there isn’t much room left for genuine conversation. Having this awkwardness likely makes the friends feel distant from each other, and the applicant feels even more alone. So what’s the alternative?

Well.. at this point in the blog post now you’re probably afraid to say anything, so what do you do? My advice is firstly to ask if your friend would like to talk about it. Some may not, in which case avoiding the topic is the perfect thing to do, but some may need your support. And there’s no way to know which is the case without having this conversation.

(I say this all the time to my students but it is SO true: Communication is key.)

Courtesy on Social Media

This is a big topic, and I won’t ramble too much about it here (though I may on insta so be sure to tune in) but I encourage you to use the same rule of thumb: Think about how those who haven’t been placed yet might feel about your public celebration. I’ll leave you with a quote to really drive this home:

“As someone who did not get first or second round, it was difficult to constantly get notifications on social media of people commenting on posts saying                         “hard work pays off.”

We are all in such a competetive program and we ALL worked hard to get here”.

 

That’s all for now folks. Be mindful, and be kind.

XOX

Acacia

Guest Post: Advice I wish I was given about working on the Journey to RD

My name is Maria Jude and I am a fourth-year nutrition student from Ryerson University in Toronto, and today I’m going to share some advice with you that I wish I was given early on my journey to RD.

Firstly, let me tell you a  little about myself. I’m currently minoring in sociology and I am obtaining a certificate in food security studies. I have a passion for food justice & I believe that food is a human right. I’m currently president of a student group I started this year (Ryerson Students for food security) & I’m on the Toronto youth food policy council. I would really like to become a community/Public health dietitian & I will be applying for my dream program next year: University of Toronto’s MPH public health nutrition program. (Ps have a nutrition Instagram where I post food recipes that I make on my free time @freshfoodcreations. 🙂 )

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As nutrition students, we all know how important it is to work and volunteer in order to be accepted into postgraduate programs. With experience, we also find out how difficult it is to be hired and later how tricky it can be to focus on school when work demands priority. I’m here to tell what I wish I was told as a student about the nutrition-related workforce. Here are some things to consider before at each stage of the work process, from pre-application to post leaving your position.

Your resume:

Your resume tells a story, make sure it’s a good one

Accentuate the lessons you’ve learned from each position and catering your resume to the position you are applying to. If you’ve just started university and your only resume items are high school clubs and you’re applying for leadership roles, then emphasize your achievements related to the role. For example “significantly improved my leadership and event planning skills by hosting an event for 60+ students”. You’re allowed to be proud of yourself, all work is valuable. This will help you to access jobs related to nutrition to better prepare you for post-graduate work, internships or graduate school. Make sure you access the resources available to you through your school like the career center and book an appointment to have your resume critiqued for improvement.

     Applying for Programs and Jobs

Apply even if you don’t think you’re 100% qualified.

Don’t hold back on applying for a job because you think you are underqualified, that is something you may not be the best judge of. Additionally, you may learn valuable lessons from the interview process and possible rejection.

 

     Rejection

Rejection is inevitable, so don’t fear it, embrace it.

In fact, if you accept rejection with grace and ask the employer how you may improve, you may be considered for another position, or you leave with a better idea of how you can improve for the future (it’s a win-win). Responding to a rejection with optimism is how I ended up working with someone who later became my mentor. Always keep an open mind and accept rejection with grace.

 

     During work

Work every day like it is your first day.

Don’t slack after a certain point, especially if you are aiming to get a reference letter from your employer. Stay as long as you need to learn new skills and develop meaningful work relationships with your employer. They may vouch for you in the future for applications so it would be wise to value every work experience.

 

    Quitting when necessary:

Don’t stay at a job if it is in any way toxic, a reference is not worth the trouble.

For example, if you employer contacts you about something you did at work while you’re on time off on a weekend or vacation, or if you’re being harassed or bullied in any way. There is no pay high enough or reference letter important enough to make it worth the amount of mental and physical strain you experience when you’re stressed from a toxic work environment. Students end up in situations like this frequently because of how disposable volunteers and student workers are viewed by some companies/employers. You have rights, and boundaries and if someone doesn’t respect you, they don’t deserve your work.

 

Post job

Acknowledge your growth.

After every job or volunteer position, you should reflect about what you learned and what you could have done better. Did you set clear boundaries and say no when you couldn’t take on a task? Did you get burnt out? Is this the type of work you would like to do as a dietitian or other professional? Did you leave the workplace with a better idea of your own skills and assets? Did your workplace make the most out of your skills or were your tasks not challenging enough?

Reflecting will help you to shape your dream job and help you to decide what kinds of jobs you’ll apply for in the future.