What drew me to the University of Maryland Dietetic Internship was the emphasis of information technology. I grew up in a computer literate family, which might have been considered geeky at the time, but it was definitely helpful in giving me a competitive edge. After orientation, I was excited to learn that my first two rotations would be in information management, technology and social media. I spent five weeks at the Food and Nutrition Information Center (FNIC) under the WIC Works Team. My previous background experience working as a nutritionist for the WIC Program definitely helped me during my rotation as I was required to brainstorm ideas for the USDA’s National Breastfeeding Campaign, Loving Support. Loving Support is a website that offers educational materials and resources to the public about breastfeeding (what to expect, benefits of breastfeeding, support and resources for mothers, etc…). I developed a detailed outline about new topics I thought would be beneficial to include in the new website that will be under construction in early next year.
Another project that I worked on and enjoyed thoroughly was using Google Analytics. Google Analytics is a free service offered by Google that tracks and measures web statistics for websites. Some of the many statistics include: web traffic, bounce rate (how quickly someone leaves a website), page views per visit, demographics and which device was used to access the website (desktop, mobile or tablet). I really enjoyed this project as I found it fascinating that this resource was available. Aside from the fact that it is free of charge, I was able to incorporate it into my own Weebly e-portfolio. I created a spread sheet and made correlating graphs and charts depicting specific statistics from the current fiscal year, which ended on October 1, 2013, to be included in the WIC Works Annual Report.
My second rotation was working at the International Food Information Center (IFIC) in Washington D.C. I spent three weeks at IFIC and attended several full-day committee meetings regarding topics such as sodium, food ingredients and protein. At IFIC, I wrote a total of 5 blogs (one of which is featured on the Food Insight website) with topics ranging from Dietary Fats to Global Hand Washing Day. Other assignments included outlining top media headlines from the month of September that had credible information about functional foods, as well as evaluating a tweet made by Food Insight’s Twitter account (IFIC’s twitter account). I measured the performance of a particular tweet based off how many retweets were made and considered how many people potentially read the tweet.
This week I started my community rotation at Food and Friends. Food and Friends helps individuals with AIDS, cancer and other life challenging illnesses by providing freshly prepared meals and nutrition services. On Tuesday, with a group of volunteers, I helped prepare 500 groceries-to-go bags that included fresh produce, canned goods and frozen protein options to individuals that receive the services from Food and Friends. Last night, I helped with a cooking and nutrition class and taught about incorporating a balanced breakfast, food budgeting, meal planning, and making healthy choices while dining out.
I cannot believe that it has only been 2 months since the internship started. I have already learned so many different and valuable aspects of the profession from my first few rotations. I am very impressed with my experience and exposure thus far, and look forward to what the future rotations hold!