How Can I Land a Job in Nutrition While a College Student?

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Mary from Portland Community College asks:

“I am starting my journey as a student at Portland Community College soon with hopes of moving on to a Bachelor of Science in nutrition or in integrity of health sciences. I need a job while enrolled at PCC, however I would like a job that relates to my field of study. I’d love to have a job working with plants, herbs, botanicals, food crops, essential oils. It would also be ideal to have a job that had something to do with research of holistic medicine, or research of nutrition. However, I can’t seem to find a job in this field when I look for jobs online, or maybe I’m not searching correctly. Can you help me find a job in the career that I’m aiming for?”

Thanks for your question, Mary.  Even though you haven’t started your student journey at Portland Community College, it seems you have very clear career aspirations – to start a career in nutrition or a nutrition-related field.  Great news!

However, I do want to make clear that as a career coach I don’t hand out jobs to the students with whom I work.  I partner with students to help them develop the necessary career preparation skills to ensure that they can become successful in navigating today’s job market to get their career started.  Ultimately, landing a job is solely your responsibility. But, there are many resources you can tap into during your journey to assist you to achieve success.

If you have a passion for the nutrition field and want to get started working in the field as you pursue your degree, then I believe you can have the success that you desire.  Make sure to develop a job search plan with your daily job search “must do” action items.  If you fuel your search with consistent daily action, then you will reach your goal.

Detailed below are some suggestions on how to you land an entry-level job in the nutrition field, while you get started on your academic journey at PCC.

Places to Find Jobs in Nutrition

One of the best places to start searching for jobs in nutrition is the internet.  There are three (3) main types of websites that you should visit to find available opportunities in nutrition and nutrition research.  These include:

  1. Mainstream Job Boards – Conduct a keyword job search on several of the mainstream job boards (Indeed, Monster, CareerBuilder, and more) within your geographic search area to learn of currently posted positions.
  2. Nutrition-Specific Job Boards – There are several job boards exclusively featuring jobs in the nutrition field. Some of the specialty job boards include Nutrition Jobs, iHireNutrition, American Nutrition Association, EatRight Careers, and a host of others.  Visit these sites to search for entry-level and/or front line positions within your geographic area.
  3. Professional Nutrition Association Websites – There are a number of professional associations in nutrition (including the American Nutrition Association, National Association of Nutrition Professionals, Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics) so make sure to visit each of these websites to see if some of their members are posting suitable positions. In some cases, these job postings may only be available to association members, but it is worth your time to investigate.  If the jobs are only available to members, then consider joining the organization as a student.  It would allow you access to the job listings, but will also help you start to grow your visibility, credibility, and connections in your desired field.

Incorporate Other Job Search Methods

Most job seekers mistakenly assume employers post all jobs online through various job boards and company sites.  Employers are competing for talent similar to the way you are competing for jobs with other candidates.  Current data shows that many employers find employee referrals as a great way to fill job openings.  In fact, recruitment by referrals is utilized for over 25 percent of openings.

Jobs won’t always be posted online.  So, I suggest that you reverse this thinking by targeting employers.  Don’t wait for employers to post available jobs.  Develop a list of 25-50 prospective employers in your area that may have opportunity in line with your skills, experience, education, and interests.  Do some additional research and determine a decision maker to whom you’ll address your letter and resume.  This is a great way to get your value proposition into the hands of the person with the power to start a dialogue and ultimately hire you.  Companies are always hiring.  The downside is that they may not always be hiring on your timeline.  Get to the employer before everyone else.

Utilizing this strategy allows you to be proactive, rather than passively waiting for jobs to be posted.  It can make all the difference in the world to landing an interview.  Remember, you only need one job.

Target marketing and employee incentive referral programs as described above can be very powerful.  Consider adding other job search methods including:

  • Networking – Engage your network to build your own marketing army filled with individuals who can potentially provide tips, leads, referrals, introductions, job placement, and more
  • Visit Employers in Person – Don’t be afraid to visit a prospective employer in person as a part of your strategy. While many employers today won’t accept walk-in resumes or applications, it still can allow you to gain some further insight and useful information that can be used in the future.  Make sure to dress appropriately for your visit and bring several copies of your resume in case the employer is willing to accept it.
  • Job Leads Via Job Boards Using Double-Hit – After applying online, most go into hope and pray mode as they hope and pray an employer calls them in for an interview. Be proactive with employers by following up on all your applications.  Additionally, target market your value proposition to the hiring manager as well.  Research to determine who the decision maker is and craft a strong message to this individual highlighting how you can help them.  This is a great way to get your resume into the hands of the person who is making the hiring decision.  The first step is to apply through HR, then target the decision maker / hiring manager – the double-hit.  Utilizing this strategy allows you to be proactive, rather than passively waiting for a response.  It can make all the difference in the world to landing an interview.

Engage Your Personal Network

Make sure to start your search by letting your personal network (friends, family, existing connections – both in-person and online) know exactly the type of job you are targeting and how they can offer assistance to you.  The people who already know, like, and value you need to know exactly what you are targeting.  Networking (or engaging the help of others) is, was, and will always be the best job search method – over 60 percent of individuals find their jobs utilizing the help of others.  Be sure to ask for assistance from your network with kindness and humility, while allowing them an easy “out” if they don’t have any leads for you.  If people like you and can help, then they’ll help if they can.  Always offer help back to anyone from whom you are asking for help.  Reciprocate as often as you can as relationships are two-way streets.

Join Professional Associations

Another way to build your network, reputation, and circle of influence is to join a professional association in your industry (like the National Association of Nutrition Professionals and/or American Society for Nutrition.  This is a great way to connect with leaders in your industry (nutrition/holistic nutrition/nutrition research) and learn of employment opportunity.  Don’t just become a member and do nothing either.  Get involved and volunteer for a board or steering committee.  This will provide you with the opportunity to showcase your skills and ability to produce results.

Contact Your Career Center for Guidance

Most colleges and universities offer career preparation services to current students at no additional cost.  Simply put, students should leverage their career center as it is a valuable student resource.  College career centers are staffed with knowledgeable, skilled, and credentialed professionals who can provide assistance in a variety of areas including resume review, interview skills training, job search strategy, and more.  Your university’s career center can likely provide some further insight into your job search goal to help you include additional strategies within your personal marketing campaign (job search).  Furthermore, your career center will likely have a job site exclusively for current students featuring jobs and internships posted with the institution. Set up an appointment as soon as you officially start at PCC.

Putting It All Together

You only need to land one job.  This is your goal and it is important to know your goal before you start your campaign.  Today, the job market is the best it has been in nearly two decades so it is a good time to be searching for employment opportunity.  But, recognize that having success in finding and securing a job is no easy feat.  You’ll need to be creative, resourceful, and proactive to move forward.  Make sure to tap into your network, while taking a very proactive path.  Don’t wait for things to happen.  Follow up on application, visit employers, and fuel your search with consistent effort each day.  You’ve got this, Mary!

Good luck and best wishes!

Here’s to your success,

Bob Nealon

 

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About the Author

Robert Nealon

For almost 10 years, Bob Nealon has been a South Florida-based career coach, focused on training and coaching college students and professional-level clients to achieve success in their employment search campaign and careers. He has trained over 5,000 clients with strategies on how to best compete in today’s ultra-competitive market to land the job and advance their career. Currently, he is a career coach at Lynn University in Boca Raton, Florida. He holds a bachelor’s degree in Sports Management from Indiana University, a master’s degree in Sports Administration from Indiana State University and is a multi-credentialed career coach holding industry certifications as a Certified Professional Career Coach, Certified Professional Résumé Writer, Certified Employment Interview Professional, Certified Empowerment and Motivational Coach, Global Career Development Facilitator, and Florida Certified Workforce Professional. He is an active member of Professional Association of Resume Writers and Career Coaches, Center for Credentialing and Education, Florida Association of Colleges and Employers, National Association of Colleges and Employers, and National Career Development Association. Connect with Bob via LinkedIn and Twitter.

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