Bluffton nutrition students earn competitive internships
Four Bluffton University food and nutrition majors will explore how other colleges run their dining services as they take part in a highly-competitive, summer internship program run by the National Association of College and University Food Services. Mackenzie Butler, Norwich, Ohio; Abby Karikas, Curtis, Ohio; Emma Regula, Jackson Center, Ohio; and Rachel Beining, Cloverdale, Ohio, will get on-the-job experience through the experience while also seeing how classroom theory meets the real life.
“These are highly competitive positions. All expenses are paid including room and board, and they are paid a salary on top of that. We were just blown away that four of our students got these internships,” said Jeanna Haggard, assistant professor of food and nutrition. “We’re also excited that they are broadening their horizons.”
The program allows student interns to work in a campus foodservice department for eight weeks over the summer. More than 200 students applied for just 49 internships at 26 host sites across the country.
Butler will head to St. Joseph’s College in Standish, Maine, to complete her internship. She has never been to New England.
“I’m really excited about it because it’s a small liberal arts college, and their focus is on sustainability,” said Butler. “They’ve made several commitments to buy locally and to make their food fresh every day. I’m excited to see how that works on a smaller campus so I can help other small campuses like us.”
Karikas will also head to New England for her internship at the University of Connecticut where she will experience everything from meal planning and food production at the dining halls on campus to harvesting and packaging produce for UConn’s farmer’s market.
“It is a huge campus so it will give me a brand new view of food service,” said Karikas. “I work here at Bluffton in catering, so I’m familiar with the small-school setting, but they have anywhere from 30 to 50 different food options on campus on a given day.”
Regula is headed west to Lubbock, Texas, for her internship at Texas Tech.
“I’ll be working with their executive chef in their dining and food services. I’ll be working alongside their dietitian doing menu development and recipe tastings, and I’ll be working in their business offices,” said Regula. “I’ll learn about all the different fields in the food services department, bringing it all together and seeing what it’s like.”
Regula will be working alongside three other interns from across the country.
Big Rapids, Michigan, will be Beining’s home-away-from-home this summer as she takes part in her internship at Ferris State University. The focus of Ferris State’s program is developing management and leadership skills.
“It looks like I’ll be doing a little bit of everything from nutrition education and wellness to some catering and food service work within the school cafeteria,” said Beining. “It’s good experience to have. It will absolutely help prepare me for the future.” Beining’s internship begins in June.
To become a registered dietitian, students must take a fifth-year internship after graduating from a four-year program such as Bluffton’s and then pass a certification exam. Haggard says the post-graduate internships are very selective, and these summer internships are great resume builders.
“They place our students at a really good position when they apply for their fifth-year internships because they have already been pre-selected through a competitive program,” said Haggard. “It’s also a great way for our students to network with these internship directors if they choose to apply to that school for their fifth-year internship.”