My Dietetic Internship experience is coming to a close. After spending some time reflecting on the past 10 months I created a list of traits that I found conducive to my success in this program. Every intern's journey is different so these attributes may not be exactly the same for you, but hopefully they will still provide insight that can help you succeed during your journey.
Motivated: You will experience 13 different rotations during this program. You will work full time, you will have outside homework and projects. You will spend a lot of money on things you do not necessarily want to spend money on, and you will not be paid a dime. With no tangible reward (yet) it has been challenging at times to motivate myself. Have I been happy and excited for every rotation, event, and class day? No. Staying positive and reminding myself of the big picture has been the internal motivation I have used to push me through and CRUCIAL to my success.
Also, even though it may not always seem like it, everything you do in this program (even the hundred PES statements you will complete) has a purpose.
Autonomous: I did my best throughout the program to accomplish things on my own without contacting Phyllis (our director) for help. While sometimes it is necessary to contact Phyllis, and she makes it clear from the start that she is just a phone call away, I told myself from the beginning that I wanted to handle stress and difficulty in my rotations on my own. For my own ‘self psyche’--this was really important. I do not like to be micro-managed and I wanted Phyllis to view me as capable and independent from the very start.
With that said, there ARE situations in this internship where you will need to contact Phyllis for help. I was lucky that I did not experience a situation like this but there are interns who did and it was intelligent for them in these cases to ask for her help. Use your own discretion!
Upbeat: Although I don’t always feel positive or happy on the inside, I always try to exude a positive attitude on the outside. This helps me for two reasons. For starters, it actually changes how I feel on the inside—it makes me feel more positive and happy. It also rubs off on other people. Acting positive and treating others with kindness makes people want to be around you. You have so many opportunities to network in this program, show people the positivity that you want to bring to this world through our profession.
Flexible: Sometimes things in the program will not go as planned. My site rotation for my clinical experience changed 5 days before I started the rotation. While you will get a set schedule at the beginning of the program, tell yourself ahead of time that things can and probably will change at different points in the program. Just roll with the flow because there isn’t any point in getting worked up over something you can’t change.
Team-Player: You are with a partner a very long period of time during this program. You write and sign e-mails together, schedule meetings together, work on projects together etc. You must be in constant communication with your partner to coordinate your week-to-week schedule. You are not always going to agree with your partner and because you’re both human you’re going to get annoyed with each other. Treat your partner with respect no matter what the situation. If you don’t agree with something, talk it out and come to a compromise. You don’t have to be friends, but it is beneficial for you to stay professional and level-headed at all times. This way you are putting your best foot forward in every rotation and your preceptors will see you as someone who works well on a team.
Creative: Find situations to let your creativity shine through. Have a crazy idea for your theme meal? Roll with it and work with the right people to try and make it come to life. It’s an amazing feeling to see something that was just an image in your brain substantiate into a real-life thing. I am not telling you to break the rules; but for me using my imagination, taking risks, and doing things a little bit differently than interns in the past was extremely rewarding.