Prior to Graduation
Employment/volunteering in the field while you are a student is a useful and often critical way to learn about the profession as well as build skills and relationships needed for future success, which could potentially lead to strong letters of reference, connections related to supervised practice opportunities, and employment. Having several different employment/volunteer experiences over the course of your academic program will enhance your preparation. Exploring the market for part-time employment will also expand your knowledge of and connections to the field of nutrition. This is essential both for those completing a degree in Nutrition and seeking any nutrition-related employment and for those also planning to complete the Dietetic Internship requirement (post-baccalaureate internship) to become a Registered Dietitian Nutritionist.
While you are an undergraduate, seek out several opportunities that will broaden your experiences and further your networking system. There are a wide variety of opportunities available each year.
- Watch your email and talk with your advisor or DPD Director or Assistant Director. If you are not yet admitted to the DPD subplan but would like to receive communications relevant for DPD students (job opportunities, etc.), email [email protected] to be added to the DPD Google email group.
- Check out Career and Internship Services, which lists position openings from a variety of sources.
- Talk with your peers to find out what experiences they have, have had or might recommend. Networking is an essential skill for any job searching.
- For more information about volunteer opportunities: Information about Volunteering
- If you are planning to apply to a Dietetic Internship in order to become a RDN, please see “How to Increase your Competitiveness for a Dietetic Internship” at the bottom of the DPD page for more information about experiences that will make you a strong applicant.
In addition to gaining relevant work/volunteer experience it’s important for individuals who are interested in pursuing a career in any area of Nutrition to seek opportunities that will enhance the following:
- Strong interpersonal skills
- Excellent written and oral communications skills
- Professional integrity
- Strong analytical and problem-solving skills
- Perspective on the interrelationships between people, organizations, regulations, and scientific information
- Ability to work collaboratively as part of a team as well as individually
- Solid leadership skills
- Facility with technologies that can foster collaboration across geographical regions and culturally diverse groups.
- Ability to multi-task and manage time effectively
- Relevant work and volunteer experience in the field
- Ability to work effectively in culturally diverse environments
Graduates with a degree in Nutrition, no matter which track they follow, find employment in a variety of positions. Placement of University of Minnesota graduates continues to be high and is most often affected by the ability to relocate.
Students are strongly encouraged to begin early in their academic preparation determining their areas of interest, setting job goals, and developing a plan that includes exploration of opportunities, development of a resume and letters of application, and establishing contacts that will assist them in job placement. Assistance will continue to be available through the Career and Internship Services. Students are reminded that these resources are most helpful when the student has drafted a resume and begun a plan for a job search.
Career Services can assist you with the following:
- resume development
- interviewing skills
- professional portfolio development
- skill-set assessment
- salary negotiation
- graduate school planning
In addition to the Career and Internship Services, there are external resources to reference. Be aggressive and creative in your search. Searching for a variety of titles and areas will be helpful.
- In Print: Employment advertisements, particularly in the Sunday papers: St. Paul Pioneer Press and Star Tribune. Each has a health section as well as a general employment section.
- On-line: Several online job search engines are helpful, such as Indeed.com, CareerBuilder.com, Monster.com, and iSeek.org.
- Professional: Minnesota Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics provides a job line with nutrition-related job opportunities in the Twin Cities area. The Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics also lists career opportunities, as do other professional organizations.
- Also, check out relevant groups and associations on LinkedIn.
Nutrition-relevant jobs can be found in hospitals, long-term care facilities, halfway houses, rehabilitation centers, schools, food services, food wholesalers, business and industry, and government agencies.
A graduate with a BS in Nutrition, with or without an RDN, is qualified to work in a number of areas such as:
Food Service Management
Food Service Directors work in a variety of setting including: hospitals, long-term care and assisted living facilities, schools, colleges/universities, government facilities, etc. In addition to needing skills in food production, food safety and general nutrition, they also need to have skills in business management, including marketing, accounting and human resource management.
Many government and private food and nutrition related organizations (eg. USDA, FDA, Health Management Organizations, insurance companies, the National Restaurant Association, etc.) employ individuals who are experts in public policy. Individuals who pursue a career in public policy may benefit from gaining knowledge in political science, sociology, environmental science and sustainability, and public speaking in addition to food safety, dietary guidelines and food regulations.
Many opportunities exist for a career in food safety. For example, many private and government agencies hire food safety inspectors to ensure that government regulations for food safety and food manufacturing are being upheld. State health departments are responsible for inspecting restaurants and other food service facilities to ensure compliance with food safety regulations. Individuals who pursue a career in food safety may benefit from gaining knowledge in food science, food microbiology, food safety, and food regulations. In addition these individuals need an understanding of how regulations and laws pertain to food-borne illness and food safety. Work experience in a food manufacturing facility is recommended.
In addition to careers specifically related to food safety, students may choose to work in a regulatory capacity for private industry and governmental organizations (eg. FDA, USDA) with regard to any area of nutrition or foods. For this career path, students may need knowledge regarding dietary/nutrition guidelines, federal food guidelines and regulations (food law), nutrition labeling and claim regulations, food ingredient functions, and nutrient databases. In addition, students will need to understand applied economics, government structure, and business principles such as marketing, economics and finance.
Students in the Nutrition Studies track may also choose to pursue a career in culinary science. Culinary specialists may work in food industry (eg. test kitchen, recipe development), food service management (eg. menu development for schools or healthcare facilities, etc.), or education/communication (eg. community classes, television cooking shows, or food journalism). Students pursuing a career in culinary science should have a strong knowledge of foods, an experienced palate, good problem solving skills, and strong communication skills. They should be creative, detail-oriented and organized. Students interested in this career track may require knowledge in advanced food science and cooking, food chemistry and microbiology, food safety, general nutrition, marketing, advertising and public speaking.
Sustainable Nutrition/Food Systems
There is a growing demand for students interested in sustainability related to nutrition and food production. Students may pursue a career that engages and educates individuals and communities in topics of sustainable nutrition and health by connecting them with food producers and the production of food, helping organizations become more sustainable and teaching about local food systems. Experts in this area serve as resources or consultants to schools, community education programs, farmers markets and other organizations for the development and implementation of farm-to-fork, farm-to-school, community gardening, and other programs. Individuals in this career track need knowledge of food production systems, agriculture policy, organic regulations, basic agronomy and horticulture, and the culinary arts. In addition, students need to have strong communication skills, including oral presentation and technical writing skills.
Health and Wellness
There are many career opportunities for Nutrition Studies students in the Health and Wellness area. Students may work for Health Management Organizations, health clubs, corporate wellness facilities or in private practice as health coaches or consultants/educators on topics related to nutrition, cooking and health. Individuals in this track should have strong knowledge of nutrition and foods, excellent communication skills and an understanding of diverse perspectives on health and wellness.
Students may choose to pursue a career in any of the options above from a business or entrepreneurial perspective.
Nutrition Studies students who might be interested in pursuing one of these areas above should take a look at the Nutrition Studies page to get ideas of courses that will support these paths. In addition check out the table below for job titles or keywords to use for job searching.
Potential employment areas or jobs for Nutrition Studies graduates (or non-RDN Nutrition graduates)
Food Industry (General Mills, Land ‘O Lakes, etc.)
Food Systems, Agriculture, USDA
Students, who become Registered Dietitian Nutritionists, may be qualified for many of the options listed above as well as other possibilities in professional practice such as:
- Hospitals, HMO's or other health-care facilities, educating patients about nutrition and administering medical nutrition therapy as part of the health-care team. They may also manage the foodservice operations in these settings, as well as in schools, day-care centers and correctional facilities, overseeing everything from food purchasing and preparation to managing staff.
- Sports nutrition and corporate wellness programs, educating clients about the connection between food, fitness and health.
- Food and nutrition-related business and industries, working in communications, consumer affairs, public relations, marketing, product development or consulting with chefs in restaurants and culinary schools.
- Private practice, working under contract with health-care or food companies, or in their own business. RDNs may provide services to foodservice or restaurant managers, food vendors and distributors or athletes, nursing home residents or company employees.
- Community and public health settings, teaching, monitoring and advising the public and helping improve their quality of life through healthy eating habits.
- Universities and medical centers, teaching physician’s assistants, nurses, dietetics students, dentists and others the sophisticated science of foods and nutrition.
- Research areas in food and pharmaceutical companies, universities and hospitals directing or conducting experiments to answer critical nutrition questions and find alternative foods or nutrition recommendations for the public.
For more information about careers as a Registered Dietitian Nutritionist, please see the Career Page of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics.