This week at MOGO we are in CELEBRATION MODE because our friend and family member Frankie O’Brien has landed her first official job as a Dietitian! We are so proud of you Frankie! In celebration of her accomplishments, and of the start of National Nutrition Month, this weeks blog is an interview with Frankie, about her personal process and experience through becoming a dietitian!
Interview with Frankie O’Brien, RDN
Can you share with us your personal journey to dietetics? What brought you to this profession and to your love of nutrition?
It all truly started when I began having stomach aches and digestive issues in High School and college. They got bad enough to where I would cancel plans and be going through the school day constantly thinking about it. After seeing a few different doctors it seemed they didn’t have any answers for me. I tried eliminating potential culprits, however it wasn’t until one doctor finally convinced me to eliminate gluten for 3 months that my pains went away. That was when the power of food began to interest me!
The famous Dietetic Internship. Can you explain to us how the internship works (how long, the different categories, etc). What was your favorite section? How was your overall experience? Did the internship help you narrow down the type of Dietitian that you are wanting to be?
Because I had received my bachelor’s degree in business beforehand, I went straight for the Master’s coordinated programs when looking at schools. Once classes were finished we went into the internship portion which was broken into food service, community nutrition, inpatient, outpatient and an elective. I absolutely loved the internship portion of the program. I went from constantly studying and never really having a break to working Monday through Friday! The only downside was it was basically like starting a new job every 4-8 weeks, which can be stressful. My favorite section would either be the outpatient or my elective. I was able to realize that I love working with patients one on one and helping people through their personal journey!
How did your average day to day life change after you finished grad school and your internship?
After graduating and passing the RD exam my days revolved around finding a job. While it was fun and relaxing at first, it became slightly boring. I was just so ready and excited to begin working.
Studying for the RD exam: What it is like, the time frame, and study advice for future RD’s?
Preparing for the RD exam was much more stressful than it needed to be. I spent about 3-4 weeks studying between 4-9 hours. I was going to be the first of my cohort to take the exam so I had no idea what I was going to experience. I felt as ready as I could be but was extremely anxious the week before. The exam itself was nothing like the test prep guides prepared me for. I am assuming the knowledge I gain through the process helped in some way, however the questions seemed out of left field. It was a humongous relief when the computer flashed the word “Congratulations!” I was finally an RD!
The Job search: Did you find it difficult applying for jobs? Were there many openings in your area?
Since I knew I did not want to go into a clinical setting, the beginning of the job search was difficult. Another component that they didn’t mention to us was the time it would take for our licensure to process. Many jobs require this for an interview, therefore making it difficult to get your resume seen. Many jobs posted were part-time or in the suburbs (I am in Chicago). Make sure to keep in contact with past internships and network to hear about jobs by word of mouth!
A lot of people may not know that dietitians don't just work in the hospital. Can you explain all the possibilities of dietetics that you have seen throughout your classes and your internship? Were there any jobs that stood out to you that you didn't think of when hearing the word “dietitian”?
One of the places I interned was a PR firm that had large food companies as clients. The executives that worked on the accounts were primarily RDs. I also interned for the UIC Women’s basketball team which was a unique experience. Another space where you can find dietitians is in a grocery store or in a business as a corporate dietitian. Opportunities are endless for dietitians, finding something you love may even mean creating your own path!
Thank you so much Frankie for spending time with us to talk about your experiences and what Dietetics has offered to you! If anyone has anymore questions about the dietetic profession, leave us a comment below and we will work on doing a more in depth blog about it!
Your MOGO Team