I personally believe, second career dietitians have an advantage over those who go the more traditional route. Second career dietitians clearly know what they want because transitioning to the field of dietetics is not for the faint of heart. Pursuing this career requires a lot of resources including time and money (and sometimes lots of it).
Each job I’ve held prior to pursuing my RD credentials has been valuable and I don’t discount any of those experiences. Each offers a story in addition to invaluable skills that make me a well-rounded dietitian.
Jobs I Had Before Becoming a Registered Dietitian
As a payroll specialist, I learned how to use software programs to analyze, reconcile, and calculate financial data. I also learned a lot about great and not-so-great leadership in this role. I processed payroll for clients across several industries, so I learned about shift differential, FTEs*, hourly wages, and quarterly taxes (*on the RD exam).
This job required a tremendous amount of integrity, attention to detail, and dependability working with individuals and companies’ financial and banking information. Also, working on banking holidays, whew.
Transferable Skills for a Dietitian: Active Listening, Critical Thinking, Mathematics, Monitoring, Time Management
I didn’t just prepare drinks and pastries, but I was also responsible for store operations, delegating employee responsibilities, and training baristas as needed. Working in a fast-paced environment teaches you to think quickly and under pressure. Positions such as this require exceptional customer service and management skills* and a lot of human skills* – from mediating coworker disputes to de-escalating angry customers. I DID IT ALL! (*on the RD Exam)
Transferable Skills for a Dietitian: Judgment and Decision Making, Management of Financial Resources and Inventory Control, Food Safety and Sanitation
Peace Corps Volunteer
As a Peace Corps Volunteer, I spent the majority of my time working in the community with specific target populations. I had to integrate with my community in order to promote and improve community health programs. Cultural competency* was imperative as a Peace Corps Volunteer, it’s also imperative as a healthcare provider as our communities become more diverse.
Transferable Skills for a Dietitian: Active Learning, Complex Problem Solving, Coordination, Learning a New Language, Program Evaluation, Planning, Community Outreach
Online English Teacher
During grad school, I taught English online for about a year. I worked with students ages 4-14 years old. Most of my students lived in China. Working with children requires an additional layer of patience and support, in order to encourage, motivate, and build confidence. The job required me to provide daily feedback on student results and progress.
Transferable Skills for a Dietitian: Instructing, Adapting Learning Strategies, Social Perceptiveness, Writing
Registered Dietitians come from all walks of life. I’ve known for a while that I wanted to be a nutrition entrepreneur, and all my past jobs have allowed me to broaden my knowledge, skill sets, and creativity. The nutrition and dietetics field can be for anyone & the professional needs individuals from all backgrounds and expertise!