Thursday, October 8, 2015

Fashion Forward: Dressing for Success, The Dietetic Intern Way

           It is already week 7 of my rotations, and it feels like I started the program yesterday. Man, does time fly! I just completed my 5 week rotation at USDA’s Center for Nutrition Policy and Promotion (CNPP).  I enjoyed my time at CNPP working with Registered Dietitians, and other health professionals who are behind the scenes of the Dietary Guidelines for Americans, ChooseMyPlate and SuperTracker just to name a few. CNPP’s mission is to improve the health of Americans by advancing and promoting food and nutrition guidance for all Americans, assessing diet quality, and advancing consumer, nutrition, and food economic knowledge. I have strengthened so many skills through numerous projects and tasks, which has been valuable. I can't wait to use these skills in many rotations to come.  A big thank you to my preceptors and the entire CNPP Office of Nutrition Marketing and Communications team for making this rotation worthwhile!

            This week I started my rotation at the International Food Information Council (IFIC) in DC, a non-profit organization which is dedicated to the mission of effectively communicating science-based information on health, nutrition and food safety for the public good. I look forward to expanding my knowledge in nutrition informatics and research, as well as networking with many nutrition professionals in this rotation, wish me luck!

               Apart from my dietetic internship experiences so far, one thing I find very important is appearance. In undergrad, the dress code wasn’t business casual, it was pretty much “wear whatever you feel like wearing”. In my Junior and Senior year of college, I started to purchase professional clothes, so that transitioning to the real world wouldn’t be such a pain. Most rotations in the Internship will require a “business casual” dress code. As an intern representing the University of Maryland, it is very important to dress professional when asked to because it affects how others perceive you and the program itself. If your clothes are clean, neat, and professional, it shows that you are confident in your abilities, and also makes you feel confident. Before every rotation, make sure to check the facilities dress policy before the start date. When in doubt, ask!

                   Here are some things I keep in mind when dressing up for my rotations... from top, to bottom:

1.     Hair: Always keep hair clean. In clinical or food service management rotations, be sure to keep it away from the patient’s food (Wear hair nets, put hair in ponytail or bun).

2.     Jewelry: Wear little to no jewelry- keep it to a minimum (studs, a bracelet, small necklace).

3.     Tops: Select blouses, collared shirts, cardigans, button downs and camisoles with cardigans or blazers, and sweaters. 

My Internship partner Kelda, is wearing a crème blouse with a grey pencil skirt & a black cardigan.
4.     Bottoms: Choose skirts that are no more than 2" above the knee, slacks and nice dress pants.

Me, wearing a white button down shirt, with a black & grey stripped skirt, and nude & black 2" heels; holding a Tommy Hilfiger bag.
5.     Dresses: Shop for business dresses that are no more than 2” above the knee.

6.     Suits: Wear pant suits or skirt suits.

7.     Nylons: Search for pantyhose or tights that match your skin tone.

8.     Shoes: When shopping select comfortable flats, heels that are no more than 2" high,  or knee length dress boots with heels no more 2".   

Me, ready to take on my IFIC rotation in DC wearing my Charming Charlie bracelet & Steve Madden nude & black heels.

9.     Lab coats: Keep lab coats clean, white, and wrinkle-free for clinicals, and other rotations when appropriate.

10.  Perfumes: Many people have fragrance sensitivity. Reduce the use of strong scented perfumes.

Here are some stores to find professional clothes: Thrift Stores, Target, Nordstrom, Gap, Ross, Macy’s, J. Crew, Forever 21, H&M, Old Navy, Kohls.

             Appearance is key! You don't need to go shopping for a new wardrobe. Just mix and match your clothes, and you will be fine. Stick to neutral colors or dark colors such as navy blue, grey and black. Boost your confidence levels in your rotations by dressing for success. When you look good, you feel good! Remember, someone is always watching you. Happy Fall :)

         To keep up to date with my Internship experiences check out these accounts:

Twitter: @ValerieAgyeman
Electronic Portfolio Website:

University of Maryland, College Park Dietetic Internship twitter account: @UMD_DietIntern

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