How to Become a Sports Dietitian: My Journey Part 2

In my last blog post, I shared Part 1 of my journey to becoming a Sports Dietitian with you. I shared about my undergraduate coursework and my journey as a student-athlete that prepared me to be a Sports Dietitian. 

In this blog, I am going to share the volunteer experience and education I received after undergraduate that set me up for my first college Sports RD job. 

After graduation and retiring from soccer, I headed out to Southern California with my boyfriend. Robby, my boyfriend at the time (but now husband), had a job offer in Orange County and I headed out west with him for a new adventure. 

Education

As I shared previously, I was on the medical school route until I moved to California. During my first year in California, I interned at UCLA and realized that Sports Nutrition was the place for me.

I decided to go down the path to becoming a Sports Dietitian and enrolled at San Diego State University to complete the dual master’s program in Nutrition Science and Exercise Science along with completing the DPD coursework. 

NC State has a Food Science and Nutrition Department, but does not have a Didactic Program in Dietetics (DPD). DPD courses are these special courses that must be completed to be eligible for the dietetic internship (aka the residency you have to do to become a Registered Dietitian). To get the DPD coursework (in my situation), I was going to have to get another bachelor’s degree that included the coursework, or I was going to have to get a master’s degree at a school that allowed me to complete the coursework. 

San Diego State University (SDSU) had the master’s + DPD option. It also had an extra benefit because I was able to complete the dual master’s program as well. 

Gaining Experience

At SDSU, I got involved in everything I could get experience in. I helped start the Sports Nutrition Co-operative and worked with SDSU athletics, interned with the United States Olympic Committee, and worked as a Food & Nutrition Intern at Taco Bell Headquarters. 

My number one recommendation for individuals who are interested in becoming a Sports Dietitian is getting involved and obtaining hands-on experience. There are so many areas of sports nutrition! Therefore it is important to get hands-on experience to understand what is right for you. Even if the experience is not in sports, there is so much to learn in the world of nutrition outside of the classroom.

During my interview for my Dietetic Internship, I remember being asked “what experience prepared you best for the dietetic internship?”. My answer was my time at Taco Bell HQ. No, it wasn’t about sports, but it taught me so much about being in a business environment and how to help people in other areas of the business care about nutrition. This skill can easily be applied in a clinical or sports setting since there are so many things happening besides nutrition. Understanding how to translate easy and simple nutrition quickly AND make it meaningful to your interdisciplinary team is essential for success as a dietitian.

My First Job!

The volunteer work that I spent hours doing in my master’s program prepared me for a job right out of my dietetic internship. My first college job (and job as a dietitian), came right out of my dietetic internship at California State University – Northridge. In August 2018, I became the Sports Dietitian for the CSUN Matadors. This was an amazing first job!

I am 110% confident that I would not have gotten my college job right out of school if I did not have my hands-on experience. Individuals who I had worked with during my master’s program personally referred me for the job and I couldn’t have been more thankful.

Networking and hands-on experience are extremely important to stand out in sports nutrition. Sports Nutrition is a competitive but fun field. Everyone wants to be in it! But it is also not for everyone. Many college/professional sports jobs work long hours, and weekends and involve food service. Which some people don’t like but some people do. I recommend trying it out for yourself! 

If you have any more questions about my journey, check out this podcast I did with Sports RD Snippets where I break down my career path even more. In 2020, I started my own company and have been running it full-time since October 2021. My journey and story are just getting started and I am excited to continue to share it with you. If you have more questions about becoming a Sports RD, reach out and we can chat! Your journey is just beginning as well!

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