Become a Nutritionist
Emily holds a bachelor’s degree in nutrition from the University of Minnesota. As a nutritionist, she works in marketing for an organic bakery. She is also the secretary of the board of directors for a popular summer weight loss and fitness camp for youth aged 9 to 17. During the summer months she provides her help and expertise by planning meals and teaching the camp kids how to cook. In addition, Emily has a food blog where she shares recipes and restaurant reviews with her readers. Here, she tells us more about her job as a nutritionist and offers advice for those seeking a nutrition job.
What are the major responsibilities associated with your job?
My responsibilities include planning and attending food shows, managing new packaging changes, and managing consumer calls and emails. I also lead projects for new product development.
What is your favorite aspect of your job?
I enjoy coordinating and attending food shows, and introducing consumers to our newest products. I also love helping consumers find products that they can have on special diets or if they have food allergies.
What is your least favorite aspect of your job?
When I’m answering consumer calls and emails this often makes me feel like a “nutritionist” but they can also drive me a little crazy at times! I also sit at a computer all day, I would love a little more interaction and time away from the office!
What skills does one need to be a good nutritionist/dietitian?
I think a very important to skill is to avoid judging clients on what their body looks like or what they eat. You shouldn’t expect your clients to eat just like you. Everyone is different and requires a different style of eating.
Why did you choose to become a nutritionist, as opposed to a dietitian?
That was kind of decided for me – I applied for internships but was not placed with any. The schooling is exactly the same but to become a dietitian you must complete an internship and pass an exam. Only 30% of my class who applied for internships got them – something that I wished I would have known a little earlier than my senior year!
What advice would you give someone seeking a nutrition job?
I would recommend a wide-range of experiences.
I worked in the food service department of a hospital, at a weight loss camp for kids, volunteered with nutrition studies on campus, and joined groups like Slow Food, the American Dietetic Association and other clubs on campus.
When looking for a job, be open to jobs outside of a hospital or WIC (a government food program for low income Women, Infant and Children). I knew I wanted to work for a food company and preferred to work for a natural foods company, but I really would have considered anything. I think that is important. When I took a job at an Organic Bakery I didn’t really know how much typical “nutrition” work I would be doing, but it has turned out to be a great background for my position and there have been more nutrition-related aspects to the job over time.
What part of your job might surprise people?
One thing I never expected to be doing was working on packaging or updating a website!