Monday, October 10, 2016

Dietetic Internship Match Stories: Allison Bokenkotter

Editor's Note:  Allison is a SCAN blog contributor who is sharing some of her tips on getting matched.  She recently passed the RD exam this summer and works in Cincinnati, Ohio. 

What are you talking about? How could not receiving a match from DICAS be a good thing? Yes, I was one of those dietetic students who didn’t receive a match from DICAS on the second Sunday of April. I even refreshed the page a couple of times thinking maybe there was an error since about 6,000 other students were logging into DICAS simultaneously. I knew not receiving a match wasn’t a “death sentence” but if you’ve ever applied to DICAS you know the tremendous amount of work that goes into it. From endlessly researching different internships all around the country to practically being able to recite your personal statement in your sleep. I think I cried once that night and said “enough, if you want it, go get it.”

So I did what the other 50% or more of students do who don’t get a match the first round, I looked into the second round match. The second round is for programs who have a few openings after the first round (usually very rare). In my opinion, the second round match is similar to eating leftovers that have been in the refrigerator all week. The leftovers never taste as good (unless its Chinese food) but it’s better than not eating at all. There are slim pickings during the second round match and honestly, I didn’t want to apply for any second round openings because, well, none of them impressed me but at the same time I needed an internship in order to be an RD.

I graduated with a B.S. in dietetics three weeks later and stayed in close contact with my DPD director, who knew how hard I had worked on my DICAS application and in my undergraduate career. My plan was to continue volunteering at the VA hospital, get my masters in nutritional sciences where I received my undergraduate degree, continue to stay involved in my local dietetic association and apply for DICAS again in the fall. Until I received an email from my DPD director saying that the Coordinated Program (CP) at our university was accepting three students into the program for this years internship. So I applied, although I wasn’t overly confident, after all, I did not personally know CP director and never had her as a professor. Not to mention the other fifteen students who were applying for the three openings as well. Luckily, my DPD director was part of the decision-making panel on which three students would be accepted. Then the waiting game started yet again.

Two weeks after applying for the CP, an email was sent to me late one afternoon. As you probably already guessed, you’re reading my journey on how I finally was accepted to complete my internship! Not only did I get “matched” in an unorthodox way but I was also able to complete my internship locally, which saved me a tremendous amount of money. Any dietetic student knows being a dietetic student is rather expensive.  So although I didn’t get matched on that second Sunday in April with DICAS, completing my internship through the CP ended up being a better “match” for me.

Here are my tips to not only be successful but also get an internship:

1. Stay resilient, strong, and positive! If you want it, you will get it.
2. Get to know your professors – they want to help you succeed
3. Get involved: local dietetic associations, volunteer opportunities, etc.