So You Want To Be A Registered Dietitian: Part 3

Since I just wrapped up my spring dietetic internship rotations, I thought it was high time for the next installment of the So You Want To Be A Registered Dietitian series. In Part 1 I explain the route from high school grad to RD, and Part 2 covers the beginning of my experience in a Coordinated Program, before I officially started my internship. Today I’ll begin to give y’all the nitty gritty of my first dietetic internship rotation– foodservice. Reflections from the road to becoming a registered dietitian! | The Slender Student

First, let’s talk a little bit about foodservice rotations in general. While I got placed at a college dorm dining hall (I don’t think I need to explain my preference there), other interns in my Coordinated Program worked in grade schools, retirement homes, and even a facility where clinical trials took place. And though some work in the kitchen is often required in order to understand the full scope of the facility, the rotation is primarily to see the managerial side of foodservice. Many registered dietitians don’t go on to become foodservice managers but work together with them, so it’s important to understand the functions of the role from the ground up.

For my 6-week foodservice rotation, I was placed at Kinsolving Dining Hall, an all-you-care-to-eat dorm dining hall at the University of Texas. Kins serves nearly 2,000 meals everyday and employs 100-120 people. Working with the facility’s manager, I got to see all the ins and outs of purchasing/procurement, forecasting, inventory analysis, safety/sanitation, hiring, employee discipline, recipe testing and development, and promotional marketing. For the most part, the staff at Kinsolving (especially in the kitchen) has been working there a long time, so it was fairly intimidating for me to walk in there as a completely inexperienced 22-year-old and assume a managerial role. Some of my assignments included giving equipment training and teaching in-services, both of which I went into with a degree of trepidation because, let’s be honest, what do I know that these people haven’t been doing for years? Completing those assignments cemented a few ideas for me that I’ll carry through the rest of my life, professionally and socially:

1) Fake it until you make it. Confidence, even if it’s feigned, is absolutely key to communicating your message and gaining the respect of others.

2) Nothing is as scary as the anticipation beforehand. I spent a lot of afternoons at Kins thinking about how I’d be perceived by the kitchen staff when I went to go do my in-service or trainings. I thought they’d look at me like I was some punk kid coming in to teach them something I knew nothing about. Fortunately, the exact opposite was true. I was treated me with such warmth, kindness, and respect. Not only did they want me to succeed, but they were open to the possibility of being able to learn something new from me.

3) Jump right in with both feet and see how successful you will be. I truly believe that the best way to learn is through experience, so skip all the wasted energy being anxious or fearful of something and just do it. I promise you’ll come out the other end alive and, most likely, accomplished. And, hey, even if you’re a total flop, there’s something to be learned from that experience too.

In between learning all those life-changing lessons, I did do some more mundane tasks such as completing food production records (i.e. how many servings of chicken parmesan were made, served, and leftover), helped do the weekly inventory (i.e. counted boxes of veggie burgers in the -1° freezer for 2+ hours), took the temperature of the dishes being served to ensure food safety, sat in on employee disciplinary sessions, helped interview potential student hires, and I even slapped on a hairnet on more than a few occasions to serve on the line.

The final high point for me was completing the new recipe assignment. UT Dining Services is growing increasingly health conscious, with a big push to become more vegetarian- and vegan-friendly through the incorporation of Meatless Mondays in the dining halls. When my preceptor told me that they were always looking for more vegan entrées, I knew exactly where to go for inspiration– Austin food blogger Love and Lemons. I stumbled upon Jeanine’s recipe for Vegan Sweet Potato Alfredo and, with a few cost-effective ingredient swaps, we had a new recipe to put on the line. The recipe received high praise and I was able to walk away from the experience like I’d been able to give something back. Vegan Sweet Potato Alfredo | The Slender Student

Please let me know if you have any further questions about the foodservice portion of the dietetic internship. Next in the series will be an overview of my administrative and clinical rotations!

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2 thoughts on “So You Want To Be A Registered Dietitian: Part 3

  1. I am also finishing up my dietetic internship ! I have five more weeks until I’m registration eligible. You’ll love clinical ! It was my favorite rotation. Good luck with everything !

  2. Pingback: So You Want To Be A Registered Dietitian: Part 4 | The Slender Student

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