Unemployed Life

Unemployed life. The bright side: sleeping in, staying out, and eating whatever whenever (no meal prep – woo!).  The dark side: Hardly being able to sleep from financial stress, avoiding friends in order to avoid bar tabs, and eating half-assed scrappy things because you can’t afford shit.

I’ve flipped and flopped into both sides. For many, this period comes right after grad – so if that’s you, stay chill – we’ve all been there! For me, it happened in between my first and second job. That must be easier because I would have saved money from the first job right? Mm nope. It was a part-time job so saving wasn’t really an option.

Let me take you on my unemployment journey, to shed some light on the dark side and talk about what most of us don’t – financial struggle and distress.

Firstly, Applying for jobs is a full-time job.

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A colleague of mine said this to me once and I kind of chuckled, half agreeing, and half thinking, “yeah, that’s cute”. Real talk: That is true AF. Most of my time ‘off’ (2 months) was spent in front of my computer. Scanning job ads every single day, searching out hiring managers and associates on LinkedIn, prioritizing applications based on their due date, and constantly re-wording EVERY SINGLE WORD of my resumes and cover letters to try to fit the mold created by a job description. That shit is exhausting. It took way more time than I imagined.

The time flew by.

Likely due to the point above, it did not at all feel like I had so much time off. I expected to be bored and stir crazy but somehow I kept busy – a happy busy as in I always had something to work on but could also ditch it and do fun stuff [almost] whenever I wanted to without guilt. So don’t assume time will drag on if you’re in this boat – still treat your time preciously and make space for what matters.

I needed creative ways to save money.

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The first time I wrote the sentence above it accidently said “I needed creative ways to spend money”. LOL what a joke. Anyhow, pinching pennies was nothing new to me after being a student for so long, but I actually came up with a couple new tricks.

  1. Buy bags of wine instead of bottles. Seriously, you can save over a bottle of wine by doing this! As in, by buying a bag you get a free bottle! HELLO.
  2. Instead of buying a new nightstand, a suitcase will do. LOL. To be honest, that suitcase still remains. It does pretty good at being a place to toss my phone, nasal spray (aren’t I the coolest?) and lipsticks. In all seriousness though, when you think you ‘need’ something before jumping the gun, sit back and ask yourself if you reeeally do, or if you could jimmy-rig something for it for a while.

Want to hear my other tips and tricks for money-saving I’ve built up over the years? There’s so many I made a whole other blog post about it – stay tuned!

The End was super hard.

I hardly had any money the entire time but of course there came a day when it was non-existent. When this has happened to me in the past I’ve ended up on my face. Thankfully I had my partner here to help pull my weight this time. Such a lifesaver. As happy as I was that he kept a roof over my head and food in my belly, mooching off of somebody (partner or not) still sucks. I racked up a ‘bill’ with him (my words, not his) that is still quite high so the truth is I feel that burden all the time (again, by no fault of his). Feeling like you owe somebody something just sucks doesn’t it? I mean, we all want to be strong independent women [or men] right? I was constantly tossing back and forth with emotions of gratitude and of helplessness.

In sum, I felt all the feels.

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Lucky, content, well-slept, energized, free, carefree, confident – worried, stressed, sleepless, helpless, defeated, exhausted, crappy. It really was a rollercoaster so if you find yourself in the same boat know that you aren’t alone in that.

My Advice

Chin up. Keep truckin’! Trust in the process knowing that this is all a part of the journey and we all have to sit through it at some point or another. If you aren’t getting call backs it’s likely because this field is COMPETETIVE and not because you’re shitty. So knock off with that self-talk and show yourself some love.

Let yourself sleep in if you want to, eat ice cream out of the tub with a spoon if you want to, but also stick with it and take every job posting and application seriously. Keep pouring that time in knowing that it will pay off someday.

Just hang in there.

 

XOX

Why hello there!

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Hi, it’s me! I’m a stranger, I know. My original plan was to have blog posts on hold until mid August… hello mid(ish) October. Woah! I never did intend to have it be this long but life happens. The blog often crossed my mind and that negative self-talk crept in from time to time..

“I’m not productive enough”

“I overcommitted”

“I’m letting people down”

etc, etc. You know the feeling I’m sure. But I’m happy to say that I let those feelings come and go and for the most part did not hold my absence against me, and I hope you didn’t either.

Did you know life can get BUSIER than it is when you’re a student? Hell, I didn’t. It’s a beautiful kind of busy though. At the time of writing this I am a part-time professor at Acadia University (again, yay!), I’ve accepted a promotion and will be moving into the role of Registered Dietitian, Program Development Coordinator at Nourish Nova Scotia tomorrow, I’m the lead advocate in Nova Scotia for Diabetes Canada’s Diabetes 360 Strategy, and I’ve been taking on community nutrition presentations here and there. Woah!

But as I’ve said before, this is not a space where I intend to blab and brag about myself, but I just felt like I owed you an explanation for my absence. I can’t say I’m back on my regular schedule, posting every Sunday, quite yet, but I can say that I have some posts in my back pocket that will be rolling out, some guest writers that are working on awesome shit, and a couple innovative ideas moving forward. 

Bare with me and as always feel free to reach out if you have any personal inquires. Reach out through our Facebook or Instagram pages.

& for now, check out my latest post here

XOX

Blog Posts on Hold

Hello all! Coming at you with a PSA today.

We’ve decided to hit ‘pause’ on our blogging just for a short time since it is sort of the off-season.

Summer is here (happy first day by the way!), people are on vacation, students are out of school, interns are finishing up, etc. etc. So we’ve decided to focus our energy on building our database of content to be launched in the upcoming year, on partnering with more guest bloggers, and on highlighting some great summer reads that have already been published and have probably (understandably) fallen off your radar. Let’s show them some love again! Be sure to pop by the post directory to see what might pique your interest and follow/like us on Facebook and Instagram, because we will still be active on there highlighting old posts of ours and relevant content from other bloggers/partners. Also, if you have a career-related story to share or words of wisdom or experience that others could benefit from hearing about (duh, of course you do!) get in touch!! We are always recruiting guest bloggers, but if blogging is not your thing then don’t worry! Pitch your idea to me and I can do all the work! I’ll just bounce it back to you a few times for feedback/ to make sure the post is all you dreamed it would be! 😉

I’ll also give you a little update on what I’ve been up to, because I’ve sort of kept you out of the loop. I’ve done so intentionally in part because the purpose of this blog is not to broadcast all of my successes/activity and that is not at all the vibe I want it to have. BUT I do want you to feel personally connected to myself and the guest bloggers so I suppose it only makes sense to keep you in the loop at least a little :). Here it goes:

This past Winter I taught a course at the university I did my undergrad at, Acadia University, and LOVED it! I’ve been hesitant to post much about it because, you know, that personal-professional line is a controversial one to cross – but I’m working on it! I then had a period of unemployment for a couple months (blah!) which I am also developing posts about because the struggle is REAL. Then I found out that I passed the CDRE which marks the FINAL step in my journey to becoming a full-blown dietitian. Phew! Around the same time, I stepped into a communications and program development assistance role at a non-profit organization that I interned with: Nourish Nova Scotia. There I will certainly be putting all of my communications skills learned at Ryerson University’s Master of Health Science Nutrition Communication Program to use and developing some advocacy skills as well. SO pumped! I will also be doing some volunteer advocacy work over the Summer/Fall for Diabetes Canada to ask for federal funding for improved diabetes care. The campaign is called Diabetes 360 Strategy so if you’d like to learn more about it/get involved/ develop your own advocacy skills/ make some noise and change the world/ get volunteer hours/ do some networking/ add killer experience to your resume, get in touch and I can make that happen! 

That’s all for now guys. Don’t forget to stay connected on Facebook and Instagram! Chat soon!

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XOX

How I Prepped for Internship App Season Over the Summer

I get this question a lot: When should I start my applications for dietetic internships? My answer is the Summer before you intend to apply! Most people’s faces drop at this point because who wants to spend time over the Summer cooped up inside working outside of work hours? Don’t shut me out just yet – I’m not really saying you should get a hard start on your applications over the Summer, I’m just saying you should use the spare time to your advantage to get thinking about the whole process and make some preliminary decisions. Some of these include the type of programs of interest, how many programs you’d like to apply to, whether a move could be in your future, and lastly of course, to explore your options, learn more about the programs and begin to narrow down which are of interest. So don’t panic, you don’t need to revamp your resume and pour hours into writing cover letters just yet!

A reminder that this is the strategy that worked well for me and of course may not work for everybody! You do you. 

Decision 1: Internship vs. Internship + Masters?

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This might be a no-brainer for some people, because a masters degree is not required to be a dietitian, and may not be of interest to everybody. Fair enough! I suggest just putting some thought into what works for you. Consider the time it takes to complete (not all that longer than a traditional internship in some cases!), the money it will require, and the outcomes that could benefit you.

Decision 2: How Many Programs Will You Apply To?

That’s a big question: How many applications are you going to slave over for the next 6+ months? This will depend on what your options are first of course. At the time that I applied, it went like this: I could apply for three programs through Dietitians of Canada, plus one program through my school, plus as many masters programs as I wanted (no limit). *Note: Some undergraduate programs have an internship program that is exclusive only to students of their university. These are of course less competitive but have their pros and cons as do all other programs, so make sure you do your homework to see if there is one available to you. 

Of course, the more programs you apply to the higher your chances of securing something, but is it worth applying to a million and half-assing it? This is something I’ve seen students struggle with and totally did myself too.

Considerations when making this decision are Time and Money. Consider how much time you are going to spend on each application and how you will balance that with the other responsibilities you have ongoing at that time. Time spent on each application varies significantly per person so that makes this consideration a little more difficult, but I will say it is not a quick process and will take you longer than you think. 

Remember that there is a fee associated with most, if not all, applications you will submit so if you apply to several you can rack up that bill pretty quick. When I applied, application fees varied from $25 to $150 each – quite a big range so make sure you check them out!

Decision 3: Where to Apply – Is a Move a Possibility?

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This may also be a no brainer for you depending on your scenario, but if not, give some thought as to whether you are able to travel for your internship. Again, this could be a way to bump up your chances of getting something, because if you limit yourself to one province/area than your options are much fewer. However, a move can totally flip your life upside down, so make sure you don’t take that lightly. For me, I applied to programs in 3 provinces and ended up making a move to pursue one I was offered. I don’t regret the decision at all, but admittedly I put very little thought into the actual move before applying. What I mean is I was so mesmerized by the program itself that I never even considered where I’d have to go to do it, I just needed to do it! Is that a bad thing? Hard to say, hear more of my thoughts on the experience here.

Dedicate Time to Learn About Each One

Here’s the big piece – actually learning about each program to consider which you will apply to. After you make the 3 decisions above, you should have your list narrowed a little bit, and now you’re in a great place to dive deeper into your options. Here’s where you can find info about each program:

Program Brochure + Website

This was my first stop. On the Dietitians of Canada webpage, they have a link to the program brochure of each program here: https://www.pdep.ca/accreditation/accredited-program-list.aspx. These are kind of a quick-and-dirty about each program. You’ll get a sense of the focus (i.e. clinical focused vs. foodservice focused) and details about the length of program and start dates.

Program Video

This is a new feature since I applied actually! On the Dietitians of Canada page, at the time of writing this, some programs have put together a little video to introduce some staff and chat more about their interns’ experiences. 

Recent Graduates

If you know people who’ve completed some of these programs it is absolutely a good idea to reach out to them! You can deff learn some behind-the-scenes type info about the work culture and lived experiences in programs this way. For more advice on navigating these conversations and leveraging this resource check out previous posts here:

Seeking Advice From Past Interns – Part 1

Seeking Advice From Past Interns – Part 2

Take Breaks

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I think this is a super important point to make here. Learning about your options is exciting, but could also be stressful, and is most definitely time-consuming. That’s in part why I loved starting in the Summer because I knew I wasn’t on a huge time crunch to get this done so I could do it more leisurely. My advice is just the same as you would while studying, schedule in some breaks for yourself. It is easy to feel overwhelmed, especially in the beginning, but take your time, get some sun, and take small steps. I personally took it one program at a time, reading up on and considering one program for a day or two and then moving onto another later. I didn’t look at my list of candidates and try to cram them all in on one Thursday evening, and I hope you don’t either.

Listen to Your Gut

Sounds like a funny piece of advice but seriously, take notice to your innate reactions to the programs you’re reading about. I easily pinpointed my dream program by the excitement in my stomach when I read the brochure, how the words just lept off the page at me and screamed ‘WE MADE THIS PROGRAM FOR YOU’, and by how much I couldn’t stop thinking about it afterward. This reaction made it pretty obvious but it isn’t always that easy to decide. Something else more subtle you might want to think about is this: What are your reactions when telling somebody else about the programs you’re considering? Which ones make your face light up and your tone change? These are things you might be able to pick up on yourself but you could also ask the respondent what they think. Chances are if you say, “So mom, what do you think I should go for?”, she’s going to comment on what you sounded the most excited about. It works the other way too. When I was deeper into working on my applications and found myself procrastinating one in particular, sort of dreading it, and feeling lost when trying to imagine myself in it, then I realized I didn’t really care about that one as much as I initially thought. Taking notice of reactions like this will help you prioritize your time and spend it more effectively.

In Summary…

If you do have some time of the summer to start considering some of the factors and making preliminary decisions about your application process, I recommend it! This strategy helped alleviate stress for me in the beginning so I didn’t step into the process completely overwhelmed, on a time crunch, and unsure of my priorities. Trust me when I say you will feel much more relaxed and confident when the time comes to dive into those apps when you’ve done the research and know what you want.

For more info on next steps like considering references, resume building, and keeping things straight, check out the Internship Application Help section in our post directory here.

In the meantime, happy reading and happy Summer!

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XOX

This Journey-to-RD Business is Tough Shit

Time for some real talk guys:

This journey to RD business is tough shit.

Have you been muddling through feeling like your the only one struggling? You may have a case of imposter syndrome orrrr you may also just be experiencing what is totally NORMAL on this journey. I mean, 4+years of full time undergraduate work racking up your student debt, and then another one-ish on top of that with full time unpaid work? Crazy. So what I’m talking about here guys is the financial struggle.

No doubt there are a huge host of other struggles that come along, but let’s talk about the taboo topic of money for a sec. I’m going to share my story to give you a glimpse into my struggles along the journey so perhaps you don’t feel so alone in yours.

Let’s start with this infamous quote of mine:

I started this journey on a couch, might as well finish on one!

Yep, that was my humorous take on my financial struggles along the journey, though I really didn’t shout it from the rooftops.

Here’s a pic of me on the couch that I finished my degree on (and my pup roommate – that was a win!!)

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Let’s start with the first couch: SO I ended up on the couch of a friend’s and her boyfriend’s (three people, one bedroom apartment, weo!) when shit hit the fan with my ex and I packed up and walked out with no where to go. (P.S. I owe these friends my LIFE). I was in Newfoundland at the time in my second-ish year of my nutrition degree and preparing to transfer universities and move provinces in a few short months. Giving up my relationship at the time also meant leaving a vehicle (p.s. when your bf convinces you to sell your car and share one, do not ignore your gut feelings about it!!!) and my home that was in walking distance to my work. Without these amenities I was unsure in the beginning how I was even going to keep working. Thankfully with my friend’s and coworker’s help I was able to pull through but I sure as hell did NOT have money to spare.

In fact when I decided to move provinces to pursue this career (the program was not offered in full in my home province) I called my dad to ask him if it was a realistic move. We had struggled financially for quite some time so before things even started to fall apart I wondered how I could do it. With false hope, I stuck with my decision.

Things do have a way of working out though so I somehow managed to make it to Nova Scotia, carrying all I owned in two checked bags, and continued my program. Though it did not come without waves of frustration, anger, feelings of not belonging, sitting out of activities I couldn’t afford, and tearful conversations with my dad in anger that things were no better.

I’m not trying to say I had it super awful – of course things could have been worse and there are people out there living in far worse poverty! I’m just saying:

If you are struggling, I hear you.

If you aren’t sure how you’re going to make rent, I hear you.

If you’ve sat out on gatherings with friends because you couldn’t afford a ticket or a drink, I hear you.

 A lot can be said though about buckling down and bearing through the struggle. So that’s what I did – I had no choice. And silly me even decided near the end of my degree to pursue another in a CRAZY expensive city. That one, however, came with lesser struggle believe it or not, because I had built up my credit enough to get some security and Ryerson University was amazing at providing support as well.

But…. long story short, I ended up on another couch near the end. I had come close to exhausting my resources near the end of my program and had some great opportunities (internship-wise) waiting for me back in Nova Scotia if I could manage to get there and keep a roof over my head. All I can say is THANK GOD for amazing friends who help make that happen. I literally would not have gotten where I am without their support.

So moral of the story here guys is if you are struggling, you are not the only one. You could never tell by looking at your colleagues where they lay their head at night. So chin up, be kind to one another, and keep trucking! You got this!

XOX

Remember What You Have is Once All You Wanted

You know how we’re all go go go and onto the next thing before we even stop for a second to breathe? I rambled on about this in the last blog so if you haven’t checked it out yet you can here, but today I’m looking at things from a perspective that you HAVE to consider.

A while ago I came across a quote (that I can’t find right now so don’t haggle me for trying to infringe copyright – I’m not) that went something like this…

Why do we get caught up in our lives and keep saying with a heavy sigh and tone of regret, “I have to”? “Ugh, I have to work that day”, “I can’t, I have to clean the house”, “When I get home I have to study”, “I have to take the dog out to walk”, etc. etc. Think about the magic that will happen when we turn that ‘I have to’ into “I GET to”.  

I GET to go to work.

I GET to clean the house I live in.

I GET to study and obtain an education.

I GET to take my doggie out. (Throwing shade at all of you out there with doggies because I’m hella jealous)

Think about it: The day you got that job you were probably bouncing off the walls. The day you got accepted for that application to lease or buy you were definitely celebrating. The day you got into that program or secured that funding to support your education and future was crazy exciting. And don’t even get me started about the day you got your dog… I’m not even going there. But just think about it – those things were BLESSINGS. And still are!!!

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They were once things you wanted SO bad and now we shrug at them like they’re the biggest pains in our butts. We’re all guilty of it though, myself included!

When I started thinking about this for the first time my mind jumped right back to when I was preparing to move for my graduate program. I was preparing to move from Nova Scotia to Toronto and getting an apartment was tough s#$!. In such a competitive market nobody would give the girl in another province the time of day. Oh, and that girl is on a budget? Oh, and wants to live by herself? Ouuu, good luck.

Long story short, someone up there was looking after me and somehow I was granted the best apartment (with a cherry tree in the yard might I add!!), the best landlord, and all within budget. Such a blessing.

However fast forward to me actually living in Toronto. It was tough. It hit me like a ton of bricks when I realized the city was not for me – for more reasons than one. It came with such hardship that I lost sight of that blessing pretty quickly. Then I became overwhelmed with school work – I was constantly with my head in a book. Constantly looking over my shoulder afraid of the big city and scary people. Constantly thinking in the future – what I had to do next, what networking event to go to, what blog post to write, what assignment to get a start on, etc. etc.

I was so caught up and at times so frustrated, that I almost forgot that everything I had was exactly what I once wanted [and worked my butt off for].

A pivotal moment.

Amongst the bustle one evening, I stopped for a moment in the doorway of my bedroom. Standing there I could see the kitchen and living space to my left, the bedroom and bathroom to the right. It was dimly lit. It was quiet. It was beautiful. 

It was mine.

Then it hit me: I did it. I got exactly what I wanted.

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I just stood there to take it in. For the first time in a long time, or maybe ever, I stood back to look at what I had and appreciate it, and praise myself for getting it. Instead of wallowing in thoughts of disappointment, fear, and misery living in the city, I thought about how lucky I was to have this beautiful space under the care of such a kind landlord, for such an incredible opportunity and education.

So I encourage you all to take a look today at your surroundings from a different lens. How badly did you once want what you now have?

Relax, Reflect, Reward Yourself

How often do you do that? Relax, reflect, reward yourself?

If you’re like any of the other millions of dietetic students, interns, or professionals, likely not very much. I’m going to get stereotypical here for a moment (I know, I know, you shouldn’t do that) but SERIOUSLY aren’t we all like type A?! Okay, maybe not all but come on, the dietetic profession is so darn competitive that it is engrained in us to WORK WORK WORK. VOLUNTEER. EAT. STUDY. SLEEP. REPEAT. Ridiculous.

To get a dietetic internship these days you practically have to be superwoman/man..  and do super people relax, reflect, reward? Well, I don’t know, but that’s sure as hell not what they’re doing in the movies!

My point here is that it is super common for us folk to overwork ourselves. We work extra hours. Do the extra credit. Take the extra caseload. Always with our eye on the next ‘thing’. The next assignment. The next application. The next promotion. The next opportunity.

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I know I’m not alone when I finish a task and my immediate thought is OKAY ONTO THE NEXT.

In this post I am preaching what I am trying [and getting better at practicing]. Relax, reflect, reward yourself. I wrote about the ‘reward yourself’ bit when I wrote the ‘Celebrate every step’ post but the big part I’ve been dedicating even more time into lately is the reflection piece.

How can you even comprehend what just happened when you rush onto the next? How can you acknowledge and appreciate all the time, effort, and energy you just put into something when you blow past it so quickly? When you take the time to relax and reflect – that is to look back on what just happened and think about how far you’ve come – you will experience a world of difference.

A world of difference in your gratitude.

A world of difference in your self-talk.

A world of difference in your confidence.

A world of difference in your mood for the day.

Take the time to think about how far you’ve come.

An example I’ll give you is this –  Brace yourself for some real talk: I cried the whole way home for the first couple weeks of my first RD job.

Yep. It’s not what you think though… They were tears of happiness. A day after completing my internship my contract started with Acadia University, the university where I completed my undergrad, to teach one of their undergraduate courses. An absolute dream come true. Since I had to drive an hour back home after work every time, I was basically forced to relax and reflect, and with that, the tears came.

Reflecting on how far I had come since being a student at Acadia (just a mere two years prior) was astounding. Did I have shit to do when I got home? Oh yes. Was it a learning curve? Oh yes. But you know what I did when I got home those days? Put my feet up, wiped my tears away while smiling and laughing at myself, and rewarded myself with a glass of wine and some quiet time.

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Did I neglect all my responsibilities? No. Did I fall behind in everything I had to do? No. But did I embody every ounce of joy that came with such an experience? Absolutely. By rushing onto the next task, the immense emotion that came with reflecting on my accomplishments never would have come out. And what a memory to have. I am sure when I look back on the experience years from now I will think to those car rides when I could hardly see through the tears.

To relax, reflect, and reward yourself doesn’t have to take long. I promise you that it will offer more benefit than it will burden, and I am so grateful for those long car rides for reminding me of that.

I challenge you to take 30 seconds of your day now to ponder this:

Where were you two years ago?

How far have you come in your skill set, mindset, experiences, and accomplishments since then?

Now, how will you reward yourself?

 

XOX