Life after graduation is a little scary – we get it. We’re bringing you the stories of nutrition graduates who have taken the path less trodden to show the exciting possibilities available to graduates in our field. Want more? Check out other some other interviews here, here and here
As I head towards the end of my degree, my feeling are pretty mixed. On one hand the idea of working in an area that I am interested in, applying the skills that I have refined over the last few years and making some money really excites me. But on the other hand job prospects and the idea of not having 5 months of holidays each year is really scary! Thankfully, over the past couple of years The Nutrition Press has had some amazing students involved in our program, and unsurprisingly these amazing people have gone on to amazing things. I had the opportunity to chat with Felicity Curtain, one of our former writers, to discuss life after graduation.
So let’s take a step back in time – what did you study and where?
I started out studying a Bachelor of Food Science and Nutrition at Deakin University, and then moved on to La Trobe University, where I studied a Masters of Dietetic Practice. Somewhere in the middle of my masters I picked up a graduate certificate in Communications at Deakin, majoring in journalism – I think I’m all finished with study now!
Once you graduated, what happened next? Talk us through your career trajectory from graduation to now.
During uni and after graduation I took on numerous voluntary and paid positions in the areas I was interested in. This opened my mind to the diverse world of dietetics, and helped me to figure out quite early on where I hoped to be after graduating.
Although I learned an incredible amount during my clinical placement, it was never an area I envisaged myself working. I’ve always been a passionate communicator, and keen to influence health on a population level, so public health and food industry roles appealed to me. This meant after graduating, I had a very specific idea of the roles I was looking for.
I had my eye on the job market throughout my final year of uni, so was ready to hit the ground running once I graduated in December. In between working a few part-time jobs and enjoying my summer, I was constantly on the search for new roles and keeping in touch with people in the industry.
I interviewed for a number of jobs: in person, on the phone and via Skype. By the time it came down to my final interview, I’d refined my skills in cover letter writing and interviewing – a full-time job in itself! By March, life suddenly changed when I was offered my current role. That moment was hugely bittersweet – it was a role I’d had my eye on for years, but being interstate, meant packing up my little life in Melbourne and moving myself up to Canberra!
Despite what we often hear, I believe you can be picky about your first job – but only if you can back yourself with the required skills and experience.
Tell us a little about where you are at now and your current role.
I’m a few months into a two-year graduate role at the Dietitians Association of Australia, as the Media and Marketing Dietitian.
As the key media liaison at DAA, journalists contact me daily to organise for interviews with our fabulous spokespeople. I coordinate the interviews, and brief spokespeople, as well as assisting with media releases and other related activities. I also assist with various marketing activities, relating to major events like the National Conference, Australia’s Healthy Weight Week, event sponsorship, and advertising, to name a few.
I absolutely love my job. I’m incredibly proud of our profession, so it feels great that each day I have the opportunity to promote dietitians as the peak experts in Australia. Nutrition communications is a crowded space, with plenty of people putting out conflicting opinions and advice. I’m driven to spread accurate and practical nutrition messages, and this job allows me to contribute in a significant way. Building strong relationships with journalists is another important aspect of my role. As a long-time media junkie, this is a highlight – a phone call from a favourite publication is enough to leave me star struck!
Taking on this opportunity meant temporarily leaving my life in Melbourne – quite a change to say the least! But despite the frosty mornings, I love life up in the ACT, and would highly recommend considering opportunities outside of your home state.
What advice would you have for your student self or for students wanting to pursue a career in this area?
We all graduate with the same qualification, but it’s what you take on outside of your studies that can set you apart.
I would highly encourage anyone studying nutrition, dietetics, or any degree for that matter, to put yourself out there and gain experience while you’re still at uni. This not only helps to solidify your ideas of where you would like to be in the future, but also boosts your chances of landing employment once you graduate. It’s not who you know, it’s who knows you – you need to begin working on your ‘brand’ as soon as possible!
As a TNP veteran how has The Nutrition Press helped you in moving towards your current position?
The media is fast-paced and ever changing. Writing for The Nutrition Press (and my now extremely neglected blog!) encouraged me to keep up with topical nutrition issues, hone my writing and communication skills, and led to connecting and networking with many amazing people. Being on top of current goings on is imperative for me to be prepared for when the phone rings at work, and solid communication skills are essential for just about any job.
I have no doubt that this experience helped in securing, and now working, my current role.