Post-grad internships required for KSU nutrition majors

Danielle Johnson

While most Kent State students are frantically trying to find an internship as they work toward their bachelor’s degrees, nutrition majors must wait until they graduate for an internship.

Nutrition majors must be accepted into one of approximately 250 accredited dietetic internship (DI) programs after they graduate to receive the registered dietitian nutritionist (RDN) credential.

Kent State is one of many schools that has an accredited DI program.

There is a very competitive matching process when it comes to acceptance into a DI program.

“Students rank their preferences for the DI programs they apply to and the DI programs rank students who have applied to their program,” said Nancy Burzminski, Kent State dietetic internship program director. “DI programs have a maximum number they are accredited to accept. Matches occur if both the DI program and the applicant rank each as their top choice.”

Burzminski said about half of the students that apply for a DI program get accepted into one.

Even though competition is extremely high, many nutrition majors believe they have an advantage with the way the program is set up.

“At the internship, we will learn a lot and I think the four years of undergrad really preps us for that,” said Katie Hippley, senior nutrition major. “Plus, since the internships are competitive, it really weeds out the students who aren’t qualified or don’t want it as bad.”

Anna Ferrato, a junior nutrition major, said she thinks the way the program is set up has both advantages and disadvantages.

“It’s a disadvantage because you don’t know what is going to happen for a long time,” Ferrato said. “However, it is an advantage because while most students have to worry about doing their internships while taking classes, I can focus on one at a time.”

These students may not be getting hands on experience through internships while they are working toward their bachelor’s degree, but there are other ways for them to get this experience, like volunteer programs.

“One volunteer program is called KIDS Camp and we mentor kids one on one about nutrition and fitness,” Hippley said.

Many students also shadow dietitians to see firsthand what they could be doing once they graduate.

If students looking to major in nutrition do not like the way Kent State has the DI program set up, there are certain schools that will allow them complete their internship before graduation.

“In addition to the DI program, there are a much smaller number of Coordinated Undergraduate Programs (CUP), where students complete both the academic requirements and DI at the same time,” Burzminski said.

Burzminski said there are about 50 CUPs that allow students to complete their undergraduate and internship at the same time, compared to the 250 accredited DI programs where students must complete their internships after they graduate.

Although the competition is tough, once students make it through the program, they are highly employable.

“70 percent of our Kent State interns who graduate are employed within three months of graduation,” Burzminski said, “and 100 percent by six months.”

Danielle Johnson is the jobs reporter, contact her at [email protected].