Mason Vitamin College students Put together for Future Careers By means of an Internship Alternative with a Vitamin Advocacy Nonprofit.
College students pursuing a level within the Division of Vitamin and Meals Research (NFS) are educated to deal with public well being points involving diet and meals entry in varied settings, from hospitals and long-term care amenities to highschool districts and governmental businesses.
To make sure college students achieve precious expertise in these numerous settings, most college students full a practicum, which is a crucial and required element of NFS diploma packages. The practicum offers experiential studying alternatives, so college students can select internships that align with their skilled targets and pursuits and assist develop the wanted expertise for future careers.
As a practicum advisor, Lilian de Jonge’s, affiliate professor within the Division of Vitamin and Meals Research, purpose is to match college students with internships that greatest align with their profession pursuits and function a basis to their future careers.
“Though internships in well-known organizations and firms present effectively on a CV, the vast majority of our college students could be taught extra and have a extra hands-on expertise in smaller organizations, the place they normally have an opportunity to the touch on a wider vary of actions and might work on initiatives that they’ve the only duty for,” stated de Jonge.
Actual-world expertise in meals diet advocacy
Amongst these organizations is Real Food for Kids, a nonprofit situated in McLean, Virginia that advocates for kids’s wellness and tutorial success by instilling wholesome meals insurance policies for college districts throughout the DC area.
“As a nonprofit working in diet insecurity, we domesticate curiosity within the non-clinical facet of advocacy and training,” stated Mary Porter, director of packages for Actual Meals for Youngsters. “Nonprofit work, particularly with a company as small as ours–we’re a workforce of two individuals–means our interns have a possibility to not solely work on particular initiatives however handle administrative and operational duties as effectively.”
Internships at organizations reminiscent of Actual Meals for Youngsters give Mason college students alternatives to enhance the dietary high quality of college lunches by constructing robust relationships with members within the area in addition to being inventive and adaptive when responding to new coverage updates or analysis discoveries referring to diet.
Up to now, Mason college students have been integral to advancing the group’s core diet packages, reminiscent of Recent Meals Explorers, which focuses on enhancing meals literacy and diet training for preschoolers; Meals Day, an elementary-level diet training program; and Culinary Problem, a USDA faculty meals culinary competitors for center and excessive faculties.
Porter defined that Mason college students’ eagerness to be taught is what units them aside from different faculties which have interned with the group. For Alyssa Wilson, who earned her Grasp of Science in Vitamin at Mason, her enthusiasm for studying new expertise is among the features that made the internship an pleasant and memorable expertise.
‘A chance to develop my expertise’ – A Pupil Perspective
“Engaged on the Recent Meals Explorers program throughout my internship at Actual Meals for Youngsters supplied a possibility to not solely develop my expertise in writing diet education schemes particular to the wants of a specific group but additionally helped me to higher develop necessary group engagement expertise,” stated Wilson. “Understanding the wants of the group and dealing straight with the preschoolers at a predominantly low-income faculty allowed me to create high quality programming based mostly on present behaviors. I labored straight with Arlington Wholesome Communities Motion Workforce to assist educate the entire group about the advantages of consuming recent meals.”
“In truth, this work with youngsters from low-income households, who’re at increased danger of weight problems and meals insecurity, led to my present work with the Mason: Well being Begins Right here cohort examine. We are evaluating info from scholar cohorts throughout three time durations: those that began at Mason previous to the pandemic, these coming into faculty within the midst of the pandemic, and people beginning faculty shortly thereafter. The purpose is to know what influence it might have had on their well being and behaviors throughout their faculty years,” stated Wilson.
‘The internship that fits you the most effective is the muse of your complete profession.’
In line with de Jonge, college students who’re contemplating a level in Vitamin and Meals Research ought to “take their time and discover all prospects” earlier than selecting their internship. “Don’t see it as only a course to cross off the checklist,” de Jonge stated. “The internship that fits you the most effective is the muse of your complete profession. You don’t need to rush that.”
For college kids who’re fascinated about pursuing an internship in diet and never searching for a scientific expertise, Porter encourages Mason college students to think about Actual Meals for Youngsters.
“We will provide a novel nonprofit expertise that may develop their skilled expertise differently,” Porter stated. “Now we have simply launched into a brand new program to design a Supplemental Vitamin Help Program (SNAP) pilot that provides incentives for fruit and vegetable purchases. The work requires a excessive degree of group engagement, significantly in communities of coloration. We hope to have interaction interns within the formative work getting underway within the fall and thru subsequent 12 months.”