I returned to Brackenridge Hospital this week after spending the past weekend at the annual FNCE conference with my fellow interns and hundreds of Registered Dietitians. For those who might be unfamiliar, FNCE stands for Food & Nutrition Conference & Expo. It was held in Houston, TX this year, and my dietetic program payed for all 9 of us interns to go! How awesome is that? All we had to do was figure out our housing and ride situations. Thankfully, my fellow intern, Sarah, graciously invited me to stay at her sister's place with her.
The opening ceremony took place on Saturday, and the honorary speaker was Betty Nguyen, an award-winning journalist, CBS news anchor and correspondent, and humanitarian. She shared heartbreaking stories from around the globe that she had once covered and about how she followed hard after her goals and aspirations despite hardships. I don't know where my dreams will take me, but I certainly refuse to sit around and wait for something to happen. Afterwards, I met up with my fellow Recipe Reduxers and the Healthy Aperture team for dinner at Hearsay Gastro Lounge.
It was awesome reconnecting with THE one and only Regan and meeting other awe-inspiring ladies for the very first time (Hello Serena, Gretchen, Lindsay, Kristina, Kristen!). It's always nerve-racking to meet in person people you've been cyber-stalking. But they were all so sweet and down-to-earth that I instantly felt at ease.
As I learned at the conference, there is absolutely no need to re-invent the wheel. These ladies give me inspiration and ideas as I continue to pursue my career and grow this blog. This doesn't mean copy exactly what they do; rather I should emulate and apply to what makes my clock tick.
The rest of the weekend was spent attending various sessions, lingering and munching my way through the expo (you should've seen my bag of goodies...insane!), and spending time with Sarah. We've only hung out at school so it was nice to get to know her on a more personal level. I'm glad we're doing this internship together.
The most difficult part was choosing which sessions to attend as there were always 2 or 3 I was interested in learning about that were held at the same time. As a student, the one that I most enjoyed learning about was "Job Searches in the Social Media Era" by Janet Helm and Julie Upton.
If you are a Registered Dietitian to be, I cannot stress the importance of using social media as part of your job search. It helps:
- Gain visibility - Did you know that potential employers are likely to Google search your name? The more positive information that is available about you, the more marketable you are. This also means you must make sure your goals align with your status and get rid of all the things that cast you in a negative light (edit photos, privacy settings, etc).
- Build a better network - Landing a job these days isn't just about what you know but who you know! Connect with other RDs, engage in conversations, and put yourself out there. Social media is a wonderful way to make that first point of contact.
- Extend your reach - Self-explanatory…think about how many people are using social media.
- Create and cultivate brand - Once you have created a brand, you should really avoid changing it to eliminate confusion.
When I first began blogging about a year and half ago, I didn't know anything about social media. I was one of those people who swore I would NEVER tweet. I started a page under the name "Savor the Rainbow" simply to use it as a creative outlet for me to share my thoughts, life, faith, and my journey to becoming an RD. Over time, I developed a passion for writing, cooking, and food photography and really enjoyed cultivating relationships with people I'd never even met before. My desire to connect and reach more people began to grow..totally unexpected. I didn't know anything about social media, but I jumped on the bandwagon nonetheless and started engaging in conversations and making myself visible. One year later, I'm still no expert, but I'm certainly feeling more comfortable and empowered to continue.
I tell Tim that starting a blog was the best decision I've made in a while. If I hadn't, I'd probably be living in a cave, feeling lost as I get ready to dive into the professional world. Not only that, I probably wouldn't have discovered my interest in nutrition communication. It has opened so many doors for me. Through it I met the RD rockstar, Regan Jones, the founder of Healthy Aperture and many other influential RDs. When I Google my name, my blog and social media information pops up on the first page. When I Google "How to become a Registered Dietitian," my post can be seen on the first page as well. I'm not saying all this to brag, but rather to show the power of using social media. This gives me another incredible resource to include in my resume that sets me apart from others and could be the difference in landing me that job I have my heart set on.
Now, I'm not saying you must start a blog, BUT you should definitely use social media to your advantage. I don't have LinkedIn, so I'm definitely going to set that up in addition to taking a professional head shot. At the conference, I joined the Food and Culinary Professionals DPG as it is a great way to combine my interests and allows me to network with others on a more personal level. Check out the list of DPGs to find the one that best suits your interests and needs!
What is my plan from here on out? I'm going to rock out my internship and remaining graduate courses all while pouring my love into this blog and cultivating my brand. I hope this post has inspired you to be more proactive and to befriend social media..it will take you to places you never imagined ;). It certainly has for me!
Since we're talking social media, let's connect and get to know each other. Feel free to click one (or all) of my social media buttons in the upper right hand corner of the page underneath the menu bar OR at the bottom of the page in the "About Min" box - two locations to make myself that much more accessible :). Also, click on the names of the RDs that I've mentioned and follow them as well! Now, let's get to mingling 😉