I am very fortunate that my dietetic internship program affords interns 3 weeks (or more if you find other opportunities you are excited about) to search for experiences in an area the DI itself does not expose you to. I have always been interested in policy and government. I took poly sci classes for fun during undergrad, I get excited about presidential election season, I was involved with student government during my undergraduate career, and sometimes I listen to NPR and CSPAN for fun. Stop gasping. I'm in agreement with you on my nerd status. Anyway, the obvious takeaway from that is clearly policy and government regulatory agencies that relate back to food, nutrition and agriculture would be of great interest to me. So, I set up an opportunity with Food Directions in DC, which lead to me having one of the most exciting and perspective filled 2 weeks of my DI thus far.
Food Directions has their foot through so many doors in Washington. They attend congressional hearings, participate in seminars, attend discussions, and have relations with so many regulatory agencies and big players in the food industry. At FD, they have to keep up-to-date on all the happenings in food and nutrition for their clients. I was fortunate to be a part of all it for the 2 weeks I was in DC. From monitoring the media and Federal Register, to drafting blog posts, to attending hearings and seminars, and even conducting background research on client projects, I can say I learned more about the current face of nutrition that I had in my almost 1 year as a dietetic intern. From GMOs to Country of Origin Labeling, I was able to stay on top of all current issues related to food, nutrition and agriculture and I LOVED IT.
This DI has provided me with a lot of uncertainty and in many ways, I think it's supposed to--not one specific experience has clicked for me screaming, "I'm your life's passion!". While I still have much of that uncertainty, there is clarity beyond it all. Clarity that I could see myself involved with all the policy, regulations, and communications regarding these incredible issues that shape the careers of all food and nutrition professionals. Clarity that I can finally see a short term path to my professional future, rather than my long term goal of working towards becoming faculty at a university and teaching. I enjoyed every minute of my time in DC--from all the great food I sampled, to the experiences I gained with Food Directions. DC is truly a wonderful place full of opportunities and I cannot wait until the time my life brings me back.
Much of my time with Food Directions was spent summarizing "top takeaways" from seminars and current events in food and nutrition so for you, I will provide you with my top takeaways of two weeks in DC.
- DC is a place you go to gain perspective on everything. Life, the U.S., your career, everything.
- There is so much to see and do, two weeks is certainly not enough time to cover it all.
- ALL. THE. FOOD. There was just no physical way for me to eat everything I wanted to eat. I'm sharing some photos below. Perhaps a post dedicated to food I ate will be coming later this week (time dependent of course).
- DC is a very fit city--fitness boutiques and gyms and joggers everywhere. Probably more exercisers on the national mall than actual tourists. I wish I was kidding. This lead me to discover one of my favorite parts about the trip on an early morning run through the national mall: The November Project. Seriously, I'm obsessed. The whole idea of November project is building a fitness oriented community and I could not believe how many people show up (probably close to 200!) for these grueling workouts that involve running the stairs of the Lincoln Memorial. Then they give each other sweaty hugs after. They seem cool.
- Price. DC is expensive. Food, transportation, and even rent is a small price to pay to live among all the excitement.
- I could see myself living here some day.
Enjoy these photos from my trip!