By Kathleen Aguzzi
As a student, getting experience in your career field is so vital to reaching success outside of the classroom. When applying to an internship or job, employers will be looking at your resume for hands on participation. It is especially important to make these outside of the classroom experiences meaningful and constructive. I was fortunate enough that the school I attend, Florida State University, offers an Experience Recognition Program (ERP) that not only gives you credit for internships or volunteering, but also helps students to streamline their goals and maximize success in their position.
This summer semester, I’ve decided to participate in the ERP as I take on Behavioral Health Nutrition’s (BHN) Student Liaison Public Relations position. As I was completing my first assignment, it became clear on how this program will help ensure success within BHN. To start, I was required to set three goals in which I will measure my progress during my time on the student committee for BHN. The three goals I set for myself are as follows: increase student engagement, make good use of networking opportunities, and to improve my professional skillset. To hold myself accountable to these goals, I made a plan and made them measurable. To gain a better understanding of the dietetic student community, I plan to utilize the BHN student Facebook page to directly engage with students in a multitude of ways. I hope to increase the number of members by at least 30 students before the end of summer. My second goal is to create connections with dietitians and dietetic students. I plan to do this by participating in more conference calls with the Executive Committee and connecting with students to talk about their experience with dietetics education including information about resources available at their school, curriculum and opportunities for their career. My last goal is to improve my social media skills and writing. This will be done by creating weekly coordinated Facebook posts that address a variety of topics. By the end of the semester, the ERP will help me to evaluate my professional progress and I will learn how to better reference this experience with future employers. I’m grateful that the ERP has helped me to make the most out of my position and has enabled me to focus on my goals. Upon completion of the program, I will receive a certificate and special notation on my transcript indicating I completed a university recognized formative learning experience.
I urge all students to get involved outside of the classroom no matter where they are in their education. Being passionate about dietetics is all it takes to find a way to gain some experience. Additionally, I recommend turning any outside of the classroom experience into a constructive one. Set SMART goals, tackle them one by one, and continuously reflect on your progress to ensure success in your position. Does your school offer any recognition for outside of the classroom experience? I would love to hear about it!
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Kathleen Aguzzi is an undergraduate dietetics student at Florida State University who plans on pursing a career in behavioral health. Her long-term goal is to improve the lives of those struggling with mental illness through nutrition. She is passionate about mental health awareness, writing, mindfulness, and exercise.
Contact Kathleen with any questions about the Experience Recognition Program!