How to Hack Your Way Into an Internship

HAPPI HAPPI SATURDAY !!

As many of you know, this summer I moved to New York City for my two internships – one at F-Factor and the other at Nourish Snacks. While I am so ( SO ) sad that my summer in the big apple is coming to a close, I feel blessed beyond words for the opportunity to live here and the experience of living in the city!

NYC is full of hustlers who wake up every morning with a drive and ambition that you can’t find anywhere else. Being in this city taught me the value of hustling and chasing my dreams. I never thought I would be interning for Tanya Zuckerbrot in her fabulous Midtown office or working for Joy Bauer’s start up in Port Chester and learning the ins and outs of social media marketing.

Living here has been SUCH an amazing experience, but the opportunities didn’t just fall on my lap.

I’ve received a TON of q’s via Instagram asking how I found my internships, what the interviewers were looking for, and how I like them. When I got these DM’s, I didn’t want to leave any detail out. I was responding to these DM’s and would type out my response in my notes then copy and paste pieces of that note over to Instagram DM’s in multiple messages because of that damn character limit.

I figured that the blog would be a better platform to share my story because there isn’t a character limit and I can talk in greater detail! I also want to share a few external  resources that helped bring me here before discussing the internships.

I’ve always been SUCH a sucker for a good #inspo quote. This past year, I started listening to podcasts and I’ve become a groupie to a couple in particular – The GaryVee Audio Experience and the TSC Him & Her podcast.

Gary Vee is all about “suffocating excuses” and executing. My favorite Gary Vee quote is, “It’s easy to dream about it… Much harder to execute it… Work!”

His podcast stuck out to me because it sparked conversation around execution; it’s easy to dream about something, but if you don’t execute, that dream won’t go anywhere. I took this quote to heart and took charge of my future.

Gary got me thinking about how I could be strategic with my future. I asked myself where I want to go but more importantly, how can I get myself there? What should I execute on?

I’ve learned these past few years at school that I LOVE nutrition, but I don’t see myself working in a conventional setting as a RDN; I see myself working in an environment that allows me to use my creativity within the health and wellness space. I recognize that there is room in that environment, but I struggled to find a place that would allow me to practice my creativity.

To maximize my ability to seize opportunities in that environment, I became a practitioner; I buckled down on my blog and started to create valuable and consistent content. Blogging was a way for me to be creative and share advice around healthy eating.

This commitment did require me to give up my limited free time in college that would have otherwise been spent going out with my friends, relaxing over Netflix, and even some study time ( don’t tell my mom 😉 ). I also had to put myself out there. Not many girls my age blog weekly, spend hours preparing recipes and taking pictures of food with a professional camera – it’s different and unusual, but it’s what I love to do! My blog became my way of tuning out the stress from school, to practice my creativity, and share information I’m so passionate about.

When I started looking for internships, I didn’t really know where to start. Most undergrad dietetics students work in hospitals and/or food service for experience within the field. While both are great experiences, neither setting is where I see myself working in the future.

I worked at a Bistro in Camp Randall last summer and during the school year to get food service experience, but I was eager to participate in something new and different. I always knew that I wanted to find an internship after my Junior year in college that would allow me not only to apply my nutrition studies and use my creativity but also take me out of my comfort zone.

I watched both my older brothers move to the east coast for their finance internships and I wanted to put myself in a similar position where I’m out of my comfort zone. I wanted to be challenged and surround myself around go-getters… and what better place to find that than NYC?!

Ironically, the research wasn’t what brought me to NYC…

I was listening to one of my favorite podcasts ( The Skinny Confidential’s Him & Her podcast ) and an episode featuring Tanya Zuckerbrot, the CEO and founder of F-Factor, a weight loss private practice in Manhattan, came up. Tanya spoke about the founding of the company, the science behind the F-Factor diet, and the company’s philosophy. I HAD to learn more about Tanya and F-Factor; I found her knowledge, background, drive, resilience, and entrepreneurial spirit to be so inspiring.

After googling F-Factor, the first thing I noticed was how strong their social media marketing and branding is! I haven’t seen any branding & marketing in the nutrition space like F-Factor. F-Factor wasn’t only a company known for being a scientifically proven approach to weight loss and optimal health, but they were trailblazers; they utilized the current state of social media to promote their brand and create a strong and online community all over the world. Social media has also allowed those who can’t afford to be a client to learn the diet through F-Factors content on social media, their website, and through their book. The company as a whole is very inclusive.

After all of this research, I DM-ed the founder and CEO of F-Factor, Tanya Zuckerbrot.

 OH BTW – just for context – SHE HAS OVER 65K FOLLOWERS…

I asked if F-Factor was hiring interns for the summer. When I DM-ed her, I honestly wasn’t expecting much – she has approx. 64,999 other followers who are also probably filling up her notifications and DM’s. She replied within the hour and sent me an email address…

( To save Tanya some DM’s – if you do want to apply to F-Factor, you can learn more HERE! )

I immediately whipped up a cover letter email with my resume and sent it in! A couple weeks later, I had an interview set up with two F-Factor dietitians via FaceTime. This interview was the first Friday of syllabus week. Some kids spend their first week back at school in bars, I spent mine annotating my resume with a red pen.

During the interview, we discussed my blog! We chatted about the importance of content creation and branding!

** Back to the strategic planning – I used my blog as a portfolio to illustrate my skills, creativity, and knowledge. It also showed my work ethic and commitment. **

The interview went very well and a few days later, I received an email with information about the next round of interviews. This round called for a sample blog post for their “Factor In, Factor Out” blog. I wrote mine about “Factor In” greek yogurt and “Factor Out” sour cream ( which BTW is actually a fab swap ). I spent a week working on the blog post, having my roomie and my Social Media in the Life Sciences professor edit it, then I bit the bullet and sent in the blog post. I didn’t hear back for a few weeks ( YES WEEKS! ) so I assumed that they were’t big dairy people…

One night, I was making my fave red lentil pasta with Rao’s sauce while listening to a podcast and I heard a “ping” over the podcast. I checked my phone and opened my email. I received an email from F-Factor and the subject line read “Congratulations! You have been accepted into F-Factors Summer 2018 Internship Program!”

RED LENTIL PASTA FLEW IN THE AIR AND I FLIPPED TF OUT.

JK – no red lentil pasta actually caught air, but it’s how I remember it

I texted my mom a screenshot of the email with a comment something like…

“OMGOMGOMGOMGSKFJALSDFALDS”

…then I called her freaking out!

After we hung up, I decided that I should probably read the rest of the email.

I noticed that the interns are to be in the office two days a week… Not that this is an issue, but I have NO IDEA what I would do with the other three days of the week.

Do I try to find a bartending job?? Do I find a salad bar to work at??

While I’d love the bartending tips and the free salads, I realized that if I were to be in NYC, I truly want to maximize my time there. New York is a city with so much opportunity and I knew that there must be another internship opportunity that linked nutrition and marketing.

Last Thanksgiving break, my brother who lives in NYC, Alex, and I were having a conversation and I told him that I had a RDN crush on Joy Bauer. If you’re living under a rock and don’t know who Joy is, she is the host of NBC’s new show, Health + Happiness, nutrition and health expert for the TODAY Show, founder of Nourish Snacks®, a monthly columnist for Woman’s Day magazine, and the official nutritionist for the New York City Ballet!

SEE WHY I HAVE A RDN CRUSH ON HER!!??

I also told him that I would find some way to intern for her… At the time I was joking because I never thought that I would end up in the tristate area, but in the back of my mind I always wanted to intern for her. After getting accepted into the F-Factor internship program, I thought, why not shoot the Joy Bauer team an email and see if anything sticks.

And guess what?!!!

Nothing actually stuck!

I emailed the team and didn’t hear back… But I still really, REALLY wanted to work for Joy – at any capacity! Like seriously, I’m really good at picking up Starbucks and giving foot rubs!

The reason I gravitated towards Joy is because like the RDN’s at F-Factor, she is trailblazer in the nutrition space. She isn’t only extremely intelligent and amazing on camera, but she goes after what she wants and has such a strong entrepreneurial spirit! This spirit was evident in her company called Nourish Snacks which I ended up pursing…

I loved the company’s snacking philosophy, that snacks should have purposeful ingredients but we also have cravings and snacks should deliver on those flavors we crave! You see on Insta that I love a good ol’ bowl of oats, but I also like to add chocolate to them because I have a crazy sweet tooth in the AM. That’s kinda what this company is all about! In fact, they have a double chocolate chewy granola bites snack that indeed has oats!

I amazon prime-d a few bags of Nourish Snacks to my apartment at school so I could try their products. After I tasted the snacks, I fell in love ( with a snack, YES ) and I emailed the company my resume and cover letter.

Yet again… I didn’t hear back so I decided to take things up a notch; I created a YouTube video showing my “Three Fave Ways to Have Nourish Snacks”. I posted the video to my Instagram account and on my blog. A few minutes later, I receive a DM and an email from the Nourish Snacks marketing department asking for an interview!

During the interview, we chatted about my blog, content creating, and branding. The two people who interviewed me said that they would love for me to join the team because they saw how passionate and committed I was to the brand. I later learned that they don’t accept interns, but after seeing how committed and persistent I was, they gave in!

hehe.. 😉

T GOD I HAVE SOMETHING TO DO ALL WEEK – RIGHT?!!

I knew that this summer would be a hustle; I’d be interning 2 days a week at F-Factor (9:00-6:00) and 2 days a week at Nourish Snacks (9:30-4:30), taking online statistics, blogging on AHTK, and working on a side gig I got at the end of the semester. My week was a constant pivot from one responsibility to another; one moment I would be completing a dietary analysis, then I would be studying statistics, then I would be doing market research while trying to squeeze in a social life!

I started saving my money since I got accepted into the two internship programs because I knew how expensive a summer in NYC would become. During the semester, I took a class called Social Media in the Life Sciences and in this class, I served as a social media critique for a company that sold natural and cruelty free products. At the end of the semester, the founder of the company reached out to me and offered me a part time gig – to take pictures of deodorants in NYC. YES – you read that correctly. My source of income this summer came from taking pictures of deodorant.

What a college gal will do for some extra cash – RIGHT?!

My parents were very supportive and helped support me financially throughout this process. I did get a surprisingly generous check from the deodorant gig, but it wouldn’t cover food, rent, subway rides, and recreational activities ( AKA… happy hour 😉 ). I would like to note that the money I did retain from the deodorant gig wasn’t just allocated to frosé, but I also spent a lot of money on photoshoots, clothes for work and photoshoots, collaborations with other bloggers and Instagram influencers, and more activities to help grow my blog.

Sure, I share a lot of the fun activities on Instagram and the blog, but my whole summer has been a hustle! I’ve so many goals and things I want to achieve and I do find it difficult to balance my responsibilities while also producing high-quality content, doing well in my online statistics class, and bringing my A-game to my internships. At times I felt like I was burning the candle from both ends, but I was up to the challenge and I am so grateful for the people I met and the opportunities that came this summer…

I was able to not only learn all the science behind the world renowned F-Factor diet, become comfortable using dietary analysis software to complete dietary analysis, assist in writing articles, research science studies, create recipes and devise healthier recipe & food alterations, but I was also able to work closely with the RDNs who worked in the office. I got advice about my future plans from experts in the field who have gone through it all before. I also joined Tanya for her appearance on Dr. Devgan‘s ( a plastic & reconstructive surgeon in Manhattan; also should note that she is one of the Kardashian’s doctor ) podcast, Lady Bosses.

At Nourish Snacks, I learned about FaceBook marketing, photoshop, lightroom, influencer marketing ( from the brand side ), product ingredients, branding ( NS did a complete rebrand right before I joined the team ), conducting a formal photoshoot, monthly content planning, and more! In addition to learning those, I was able to meet the TODAY show’s nutrition KWEEN herself, Joy Bauer! I tagged along with her on two appearances on the Megyn Kelly show. I also got to meet the Director of Nutrition at Joy Bauer, Rebecca Jay Forman, who is so sweet, organized, and welcoming! She explained to me all the deets of TV appearances and how hectic & unpredictable it can be! She was also my buddy who hid behind the curtain with the camera crew when Joy went on camera! After I met Joy, I created an ad for her website that will be featured in her new cookbook that is coming out October 2nd, Simple Food Remedie and I also created fun Instagram posts and stories for her Instagram account!

I’m still in SHOCK that I was able to work alongside thee boss ass dietitians! As mentioned earlier, I’ve received so many questions about how I got these internships and I’d like to share my top tips to anyone seeking an internship out of the ordinary…

♡ BECOME A PRACTITIONER

  • If you want to be competitive to get a certain internship, ask yourself: what sets you aside from other interns? Why should you have this internship compared to the next person? Do you actually practice in the field or area that you wish to go into?
  • Stop saying “I’m going to to xyz” and just freaking do it!!! You’re just wasting your time when saying that you’re going to do something while you could be actually working on it! Nobody knows how to create a perfect blog or piece of content – you just gotta jump into it and figure it out as you go! ( if you want a good LOL, scroll all the way down to my first blog & Instagram post… )
  • I also have learned that as I get older, nothing happens unless I pursue it. School gives you structure, but there isn’t a perfectly paved path to take when pursuing your dream internship or job. Sure, maybe an opportunity will come along, but 90% of the opportunities that arose didn’t happen until I asked or pursued. I asked Joy if I could help her out with anything then got the opportunity to shadow her for a second time on the Megyn Kelly show, to create an ad for her cookbook, and to make recipes for her Instagram! Dreams can come true – ya just gotta ask ( or pursue 10,000 times ). 😉

♡ BE RELENTLESS

  • SERIOUSLY – don’t take no for an answer!! I didn’t hear back after two different emails with unique cover letters and resumes, but I kept going for it. I wouldn’t have interned at Nourish Snacks or worked along side Joy Bauer if I wasn’t relentless!

♡ HAVE SELF AWARENESS

  • When you want to pursue something, you have to have self awareness. Are you able to complete the tasks you’ll be assigned or do you just want to work somewhere because it’s “really cool” or “looks good on your resume”? What skills do you have and how can you leverage your skills to provide value to the company. Are you able to bring value to the company you want to work for and make a difference? IT ALL COMES BACK TO BRINGING VALUE !!
  • Also, if you hear no ( or don’t hear back ), don’t take it personally… It’s all just business! There are a million gazillion reasons why you might not hear back, but it’s not personal!

♡ GET CREATIVE

  • This kinda goes back to being relentless… To get my internship at Nourish Snacks, I got creative! I knew that I had to do something out of the box to get their attention. My supervisors said that they were impressed with my resume, but they have received many similar resumes in the past from others who wanted to intern for their company. The YouTube video convinced them that they would like to have me onboard!

♡ GET UNCOMFY !!

  • I truly, truly believe that you have to get uncomfortable to get comfortable!
  • I wasn’t always comfortable sharing content online… As mentioned earlier, it isn’t very common to devote endless hours to creating recipes, taking pictures of those recipes, editing the recipes, and writing a long blog post about it… But I became more comfortable with putting myself out there after sharing content for a while!
  • At F-Factor, I was the only intern who wasn’t from the east coast. I didn’t meet my roommates until I moved in. I had to learn how to navigate the city by myself ( subway, 45 min train ride to Port Chester ). I was the only intern at Nourish Snacks. I only knew two people living in NYC ( my brother who is busy AF and one friend from school ). But, I just went in with the mindset that I’ll figure it out! It all turned out fine!
  • I think that my of the motto of the summer is “figure it out”… 😉

STAY IN YOUR OWN LANE

  • This point is EVERYTHING!! We’ve all heard the quote, “Comparison is the thief of joy”. I’ve struggled to avoid comparing myself to my peers. In a competitive field like nutrition, it’s difficult to not think of how my GPA compares to the next girl’s. In dietetics, it is often recommended to stick strictly to hospital and food service as an undergrad to build a resume for the big Dietetic Internship.
  • I felt like I HAD TO get experience in those two areas because it was what everyone else was doing. I learned that I had to stop comparing myself to other people in order to pursue my dream, so I took the road less taken ( again, HUGE quote girl ), put my head down, and focused on my own goals!

I hope this helps anyone who is seeking out an internship for the school year or next summer! If you have any more q’s, comments, concerns, feel free to reach out!! I honestly had no clue what I was doing 99% of the time and just kept pursuing and working, but if I could help make the process easier for anyone else, I’d love to help!!

xx hails

One thought on “How to Hack Your Way Into an Internship

  1. Very savvy advice, especially, “It’s easy to dream about it… Much harder to execute it… Work!” Dreams are so important as they open ourselves up to all the rich possibilities that life offers…….but dreams without tenacious pursuit, risk taking and follow-up are just that, dreams. You have provided an excellent outline of how to pursue a meaningful internship or really any dream.

Leave a Reply