The Dietetics Student’s Pandemic Survival Guide (2020… “the Year Of Doom”)

Graduating from my undergrad during a pandemic, I can say with complete confidence, was not something I ever even considered to be a potential reality. Too bad my Nutrition Degree didn’t come with a Pandemic Survival Guide (that’s why I created this one).
Going from a busy full-time student working a hectic full-time job in food service to a freshly laid-off graduate.
I can say it has been difficult to stay motivated, let alone stave off depression.

Okay, okay.
You’ve made it through the sob story.

What have I learned? Well, actually a whole hell of a lot.

What follows is a sort of pandemic survival guide for the dietetics student or the recent graduate.

Let’s get into it!

The Dietetics Student's Pandemic Survival Guide

1. Understand that your worth is NOT dependent on your productivity.

That’s it. Just remember that.

2. Don’t neglect YOUR needs.

It’s highly likely that you covered Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs in your coursework but just in case you haven’t gotten there yet or just plain forgot. Here is a quick overview.

  • Physiological ➝ the basics. Air, food, water, etc…
  • Safety ➝ secondary to the basics.
  • Love & Community ➝ supplementary! Friends, family, spirituality, love, society, etc…
  • Esteem ➝ upper level. Accomplishment, fulfillment, and all that jazz.
  • Self-actualization ➝ highest level. Reaching your full potential.

Check in with yourself often about what needs you are attending to and ones that you may have overlooked. If there was ever a time to be better to ourselves, now is it.

3. Don’t give up on your goals.

Maybe just shift them to a smaller, more actionable scale.
In all honesty, now isn’t necessarily the time to look too far ahead.
Our lives have been upended.
There is not a clear path to normalcy as of now.

And, well, that has to be okay.

If we shift too much effort into shaping an unknown future, we could do more harm than good.

Focus on setting realistic goals.
Practice the SMART goal system that you learned in school.
Just be patient and give yourself room to go at a slower pace.

When you feel yourself giving way to anxious thinking, consider what action you can take RIGHT NOW that will make you feel happy and safe.

Remember that this is temporary.
The world is moving at a slower pace and you have to be more patient with yourself.

4. Self-education & self-improvement are self-care too.

For those of us who are going nuts without 35 million things to do (I get you 100%) consider partaking in some self-education and delve head first into a new and complementary skill.

I believe that for many dietetics students, the online realm of the profession is, well, completely unknown. At least in my experience, the professors in my program never discussed anything outside of the clinical setting.
That is totally unfair.
There is a whole new world of dietetics online and RDs have the freedom to create totally new iterations of the profession! It’s really reassuring to know that you absolutely can do anything with your credentials.

Here is a short list of new skills that I have been exploring since May.

  • SEO ➝ Search Engine Optimization is essential to successfully build a presence online.
  • Web development ➝ Learning to code seems out of our wheelhouse as health professionals, but it is actually really fun and not all that difficult. Explore what Codecademy has to offer for FREE.
  • Website Construction ➝ If you aren’t into coding, you can still learn to build your own website!
  • Graphic design ➝ Whether you are using the free version of Canva, or you have access to Photoshop or Illustrator. Picking up basic graphic design skills can 100% improve your resume.

There are many more avenues to choose from. Explore the options and find something that speaks to you!

5. Volunteer, remotely… 

If you were anything like me in university, you only came to campus for class. My full-time job prevented me from taking any part of on-campus extracurricular activities.
Luckily, I found out about remote volunteering just before graduation, and just as the pandemic took my job.

Here are a few of the places you can find online volunteering opportunities.

  • Chegg Internships
  • Or if you are brave enough, hit up LinkedIn connections to offer virtual assistance services in exchange for letters of recommendation!

I definitely prefer the first one!

6. Freelance, baby!

If you are lucky enough to have some prior freelance-worthy experience then lean into that! 
If not…well then use your education, supplemented with a little of the aforementioned newly acquired knowledge (I’m talking about #4…), and get some experience on Upwork

7. Build an online presence 

Use all of the above to begin building a space for yourself online.
Start a blog or build a portfolio site, try your hand at social media, or even begin creating useful reference guides or other resources to sell!

Whatever it is.
Work toward something now and, I promise, you won’t regret it later.

8. Oh…and don’t forget to take some time to update or revamp your resume!

Whether you’re preparing for DICAS or graduate school.
Document everything!
Google Sheets are phenomenal for documenting volunteer hours and experiences, organizing contacts, etc…
Get people to vouch for you too!
Don’t be shy about asking the person you are working with to give you a reference or even a letter of recommendation!

I hope this was helpful to you. Let me know in the comments if I left anything out or message me if you have resources that would add to the list!

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