— By Kate Agnew
“Career strategy? What career strategy?”
Don’t be left asking yourself this very question when Uni ends. Trust me.
In today’s competitive job market, you (literally) can’t afford to defer planning your career until you’re a graduate and an established dietetics professional. In fact, you’ll need to map one out for yourself early on, while you’re still at University. Then, you’ll want to continually refine it — so that you can move up the career ladder.
Today, I’m living a dream: I’m the Communications Assistant at Dietitian Connection, working alongside Maree Ferguson. But I didn’t get here by accident. I created a strategy – and took action on it.
That same strategy played a huge role in helping me leverage my education, experience and passion for dietetics into a role that I love getting out of bed for every weekday. Well, maybe not on Mondays, but the other four days, for sure!
I was told that the reason I got offered a full-time gig at DC was for a number of qualities, which I believe we all have the potential to embrace. Read more about these qualities, and this journey, here.
So if you’re currently studying, graduation is closer than you think, and you’re still a bit fuzzy on where to go next (and how to get there)…
…here are six hot tips I picked up along my own journey that helped me land a job – and a life – that I love:
- Find your WHY. Your WHY is the reason you want to be a dietitian — the thing that keeps you going every day, and the uniqueness that you bring to the profession. Credit goes to my mentors, who made me realise the power of discovering your WHY.
- Connect with dietitians who inspire. I was once told that you should have numerous additional mentors, in addition to your “official” mentor for APD status. I now understand how helpful this really is! Your mentors are there to provide insight, challenge you, brainstorm with you and even learn from you (it’s a two-way street). With the explosion of social media, it’s easier to connect with other dietitians – especially those in niches you are passionate about — and then approach them. LinkedIn is amazing for this purpose. (Surely you’re on LinkedIn by now!) The inspiration you can gain from those who love their work is worth its weight in gold.
- Take the road less travelled. You will quickly learn that there are novel ways of approaching dietetics, and countless opportunities to upskill. Have a look at what other dietitians, or even health professionals, are doing, and it will become evident where opportunities lies – and where you might be able to make a unique difference.
- Write your own ticket. I was once told that if you cannot find a job, consider making your own job. Given that nutrition is constantly evolving and is a key component in many domains of life, the magic happens when you think outside the box and translate your work to novel areas. From industry positions to communications, and of course the traditional positions in hospitals and clinics, the possibilities in dietetics are endless.
- Be prepared to do a less-desirable job. Sometimes we have to do “grunt work” in order to show a potential employer our skill set, our uniqueness and our potential. The beginning of a new job or internship may involve tasks like marketing or writing, rather than direct patient/ client care, but this often opens doors to further opportunities. Remember your WHY and bring positive energy to each situation; you will get to where you want to be.
- Consider starting your own business. Entrepreneurship is an amazing opportunity for both personal and professional growth. Be prepared to learn about business and technology, embrace the learning curve and to bounce ideas around with others in the industry. But please consider getting a mentor to learn from, or a business coach. There are more new graduates starting their own businesses; it takes time, but if you do it with passion and pride, you will gain momentum.
Kate is an Accredited Practising Dietitian, with a Bachelor degree in Exercise & Nutrition Science and a Masters of Dietetics Studies. Before her current role with DC, she worked as a research assistant, and in private practice.