It’s been four months since my last post. I never intended for there to be that big of a break between all of these, mostly since the “successful” blog posters post about once a week but, I’m not superhuman. When I posted last, I was in the middle of one of my management rotations. While my whole fall semester can be lumped together as a “management” rotation, I did more than just work in a kitchen. During the fall, I was privileged to work at a top school system, the health department with the WIC dietitian, and at the Mississippi Food Network. Aside from my main management rotation which took place at Mississippi State Hospital, I also spent four weeks at St. Dominic’s hospital with their food service staff. I eventually ended my semester at State Hospital in a rotation that is titled “Staff Relief” where you’re expected to complete the daily tasks of a worker or manager without someone holding your hand or constantly telling you what to do. So, now it may make more since why it took me so long to get back to writing about my experiences. Did I mention that along with all of those rotations, I conducted and turned in a 30 page research project, came up with a sustainable business plan, and planned and implemented a theme meal at State Hospital? It was quite the semester. Needless to say, by time I finished at the beginning of December, the last thing I wanted to do was open my laptop and type. So instead of succumbing to the peer pressure of updating my blog (looking at you Melissa Hughey), I took some time to relax, sleep, watch Netflix, travel, and eventually get settled back into Jackson. So now that I’m back, I figure now is the best time to pick up where I left off in October! So here is everything
After spending the first four weeks at Mississippi State Hospital, working with the food service department, I spent the follow week at the Hinds Country Health Department with the Women, Infant, and Children’s supplemental program or WIC. This was definitely one of the more challenging rotations. That’s not to say that I didn’t learn A TON from the dietitians that I was with during those four days. I was super excited for this rotation because of the counseling experience I knew I was going to be able to gain. It’s always fun to sit down with clients and figure out what they need and how you can help them. Plus, interning with a government agency made me feel like Leslie Knope!
After I left the health department and WIC, I spent two weeks at the Clinton School District working with their Director of Child Nutrition (an RD!) and their Director of Cafeteria Management. While the work was slow at times, I really enjoyed my time here and I loved the 8-5 workday feel. Although my heart lies with the clinical dietetics field, not having to work weekends or holidays sounds pretty good. I spent the majority of my time in Clinton reviewing the National School Lunch Program rules and regulations as well as the Healthy Hunger Free Kids Act. Very interesting reading material if you’re bored. Also interesting to see how much things have changed since between the time I was in Kindergarten through my senior year of high school. With all the rules, regulations, free and reduced lunch programs, grants, etc. it can make your head spin, but I applaud the Clinton School District Child Nutrition managers as well as the employees who work directly with the students and in the cafeterias for everything they do. They work hard to ensure that kids are fed two meals a day and they do a great job of ensuring that they are both healthy and delicious. If clinical doesn’t work out, I can see future for me in this type of setting!
Moving on…after my two weeks in Clinton, I headed back into the heart of Jackson to begin four weeks of management at St.Dominic’s Hospital. This is the main facility where my roommate has been doing her rotations. Though unfortunately for us, the four weeks I was there, she was rotating through her health department and school rotations. My four weeks here were pretty uneventful. I did a lot of accounting and purchasing work. More computer, less kitchen. I did enjoy the change of scenery though, plus I got free lunch so that was pretty stellar. After this I headed back to State hospital for two more weeks of management. These two weeks were mostly spent organizing my theme meal and then filling in for the lack of kitchen employees. Now before you think this is like “me legit cooking like a chef” allow me to shatter that thought. These two weeks working in the kitchen consisted of me, sorting puddings into individualized cups or me wrapping up cornbread muffins for building deliveries. Not quite as glamorous as the 5 star kitchen I would’ve hoped for, but I learned a lot of discipline as well as gained a lot of respect from the other employees.
My two weeks in the kitchen were then rewarded by a week away at the Mississippi Food Network. This is the largest food bank in the state of Mississippi and they supply the majority of the food for almost all of the countries food pantries. I had a blast during this rotation. I was able to travel through a lot of the central part of the state with the dietitians inspecting and approved the various food pantries. I was able to education some of the elderly population on the Senior programs as well as see some kids who were participating in an after school snack program. The work that goes on at the Food Network is insane. The amount of food that goes in and out of their warehouse daily blows my mind. Not to mention the hard work that every single employee puts in to ensure everything is done to the highest of standards. My time at the Food network was definitely one of my favorites!
Now we’ve come full circle. The last two weeks of this semester were spent in a rotation called “staff relief”. This rotation was completed back at State Hospital and is meant to allow the intern to act as the head foodservice manager. Unfortunately, this did not happen. Instead, I was back to kitchen employee, which all in all, I couldn’t complain. I had so much fun with the employees there. They all worked so hard to include me and teach me and they had so much patients for me (I moved rather slow in the kitchen). I especially would have never survived my weeks at State Hospital with the retail manager Stephanie. From the first week she took me under her wing and treated me like we’d been friends for years. I probably learned the most about management and running a kitchen from her. My last day at State Hospital was spent being apart of the hospitals annual Christmas Parade. Never in a million years would I have believed that I would be riding on the back of a boat, dressed up at a reindeer, driving through a mental hospital, but here I was. It was a blast and the residents had the best time!
I couldn’t be more thankful for the people I encountered during this rotation. I went into not really sure how things would play out, especially since I never thought I would enjoy anything related to “management dietetics” but all in all I had a great semester. I grew as a professional, a grad student, and as a person. I even fooled a lot of people into thinking I had an extraverted personality. Extremely funny to me and anyone else who knows me personally. I wouldn’t trade those months and those experiences for anything different!
“In everything I did, I showed you that by this kind of hard work we must help the weak, remembering the words the Lord Jesus himself said: ‘It is more blessed to give than to receive.’ ” Acts 20:35
Internship Countdown: 13 weeks!