Nutrition In yoU: Dietetic Interns summertime wrap-up

This is our final update on how NIU’s Dietetic Interns spent this past summer. We spoke with Dietetic Interns, Maddie Ganther and Kelsey Burlini. Both seized completely different opportunities outside of NIU’s program following completion of their first semester in the M.S./DI program.

Maddie Ganther, Nutrition and Dietetics M.S. Candidate 2020/Dietetic Intern

Maddie earned a B.S. in Dietetics from the University of Wisconsin, has a Certificate in Leadership, and is a Certified Pilates Instructor.

Where did you work this summer and what was your position?

I worked at GenoPalate, a nutrigenomics startup in Milwaukee as a Dietetic Intern.

What does the GenoPalate specialize in?

GenoPalate is a personalized nutrition company, where we provide specific nutrient recommendations based off a client’s DNA.

How did you find out about GenoPalate?

A friend had mentioned the company to me the year before I applied. Once we started talking about nutrigenomics in classes, I started researching the company. I soon learned that two of the three dietitians at GenoPalate are NIU alumni.

How did you go about pursuing a position with GenoPalate?

After taking NIU’s macronutrient and micronutrient courses in our M.S./DI program, I became very interested in the field of nutrigenomics. I never thought I would use the depth of biochemistry we learned in our program in an applicable way, but through my position at GenoPalate, I did. I was planning to spend my summer in Milwaukee, so I reached out to GenoPalate to see if there was any availability. I think being enrolled in the M.S./DI program helped when applying since it shows I am on my way into the professional field of dietetics.

What was your favorite part of the position?

Working at GenoPalate has been wonderful because I get to work with an incredibly intelligent group of people. We are faced with different challenges everyday in which I am able to apply much of what I learned at NIU and UW.

What has working at GenoPalate taught you?

Working at a startup company has taught me a lot about product development. Most of my jobs prior to working at GenoPalate have been in customer service. We are a collaborative team of business professionals, geneticists, dietitians, graphic designers, and more, in which I am constantly learning from my coworkers.

Is there any advice you’d give someone exploring opportunities to work in the field?

Be creative with where you look for job opportunities. I lived in Milwaukee for a year before applying to NIU and I never would have thought to search for a job at a startup company. Also, if you have a specific interest, pursue it.

Kelsey Burlini, Nutrition and Dietetics M.S. Candidate 2020/Dietetic Intern

Kelsey graduated from Illinois State University with a B.S. in Nutrition and Dietetics.

Where did you work this summer?

I worked at Camp Power as a part of the Nutrition Education team.

How did you find the opportunity?

NIU’s DI director, Nancy Prange, told my class about the opportunity and it seemed like something I would be interested in.

Did your educational background help you get your position?

My degree and being enrolled in the DI program both helped, as they gave me the background knowledge I needed to successfully educate young kids on healthy eating and the importance of overall health. I also found that creating lesson plans during my undergraduate education was especially beneficial as I needed to have set lesson plans for each day at camp with each age group.

What is Camp Power?

Camp Power specializes in giving underserved kids, ages 4-15, the opportunity to learn and have fun in a casual environment during the summertime. It was created to respond to identified issues of child hunger and youth crime that tend to occur in the community in which the kids live. The structure of Camp Power includes academic tutoring, daily balanced lunches, an afternoon snack paired with nutrition education, physical activity, mentoring, and a variety of field trips. Camp Power has proven positive outcomes on crime rates involving children, increase quality of life during the summer months, and improved performance during the school year for enrolled kids.

What was your favorite part of the position?

There were a lot of aspects I enjoyed as a nutrition educator, but if I had to choose one, it would be being there for the kids. A lot of them are in need of extra guidance and a role model. It was really special to form bonds with kids in the camp.

What strengths did you gain from the opportunity?

I definitely have more patience now. I think I am also more equipped to provide education to people who I would not normally have the opportunity to educate, which was a great learning experience.

Is there any advice you’d give someone considering opportunities to work in the field?

Take any and every opportunity that you can to learn more about the field you love. You may be feeling overwhelmed or overworked, but it is important to take advantage of every learning opportunity possible. You won’t regret it.

Thank you for your time and perspective on your opportunities. I love that people in my class are motivated to seize opportunities outside of our academic setting during their time off. Without a doubt, having a B.S. in Nutrition and Dietetics, paired with currently being enrolled in our M.S./DI program helped give these ladies the edge they needed to get these experiences.

As we move into October, we will start to celebrate the feeling of fall.


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