By Megan Appelbaum
As a current sophomore at Florida State University (FSU), I have been trying to gain experience and build my resume to be a competitive applicant for the dietetic internship. I can’t physically apply to my university’s dietetics program until the summer of my junior year, but once I am in, I will hit the ground running with coursework and mandatory clinical and volunteer hours. It is safe to assume there will be little time to freely explore the nutrition field when rigorous classes and clinical hours define the last two years of undergraduate school. With that being said, I have found that these first two years of my undergraduate experience will be a crucial time to make myself a competitive applicant for the dietetic internship application. The steps I have taken to make the most out of my first two years in college consist of using the programs and resources offered on campus, joining relevant school organizations, and pursuing leadership opportunities and research on campus.
When I arrived at FSU, I knew I needed to explore the resources my campus offered. I found out about free tutoring offered on campus, university gym hours, academic advising, career workshops, and more. These resources helped me get through chemistry with an A, maintain a healthy lifestyle by allotting time to exercise and de-stress, as well as receive academic advice to prepare me for my future inside and outside of school. With the help of these campus resources, my first years of college as an undergrad went relatively smoothly, and I became grounded at my university.
During my freshman year I wanted to join a health-related club that resonated with me. I was disappointed to find out that none of the current student organizations had a club like this, and I wasn’t happy with my involvement on campus that year. I felt that I didn’t have a direction to go in, or a group that I loved. It wasn’t until the beginning of my sophomore year that I decided to lead my own health-focused organization. Fast forward one short month later, and Better Choices, Better You! was activated as a student-run organization. I spent time gathering dietetic students, just like me, who held the same passion for healthy living and community involvement. I am excited to see how impactful this organization will be on our campus. Not only did starting this club create a place for me to share what I love to do, but it also opened many doors and opportunities for the future.
Besides getting involved in student organizations that motivated me, I also wanted to get involved in research on campus. During my sophomore year, I applied to the Undergraduate Research Opportunity Program (UROP) offered at my school. This is a one-year program, offered at universities nation-wide, committed to connecting undergraduates to research on campus. I was ecstatic to get into the program, and after a long and stressful search to find a lab to work in, I finally got accepted into a biochemical food science lab. I am currently working with a doctoral student for 7-10 hours each week on glycoprotein staining and stain-free gel electrophoresis. I became enthusiastic about research science after I took microbiology my freshman year. Since then, I made it a goal of mine to get back into a lab, but this time for a bigger goal like cutting-edge research. I am so happy to be working in the lab, and the experience I will get out of it will be priceless.
For the future, I will continue to take advantage of my campus resources, grow my health-focused student organization, and learn everything I can in my food science lab. I built most of my resume my first two years, and never, at any point, did it feel like a chore. It came naturally simply by following my interests. I believe following my passions and getting involved led me to be a competitive applicant for the dietetic internship program.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Megan Appelbaum is an undergraduate dietetics student at Florida State University. She spends most of her time within the Nutrition and Food Science Department where she works in a biochemical food science lab. She is also involved in the Undergraduate Research Opportunity Program (UROP) at her university. In addition to research, she is passionate about educating her community on healthy living. She runs an organization at her university that is focused on introducing healthier lifestyle choices to students on campus. Besides her academic involvements, Megan enjoys spending time with family, friends, and her two dogs, Molly and Lacey.