By: Laura Thibodeau
What is a fun fact about yourself?
During my previous degree, my friend and I decided to take up cross country skiing as a fun way to hang out and get in shape. Two years later in 2016 I placed in the top 15 female racers at the American Birkebeiner 24km Nordic ski race- which is part of the largest cross-country ski race in North America.
How did you hear about the OHEA Mentorship Program?
I don’t recall exactly how I found out about the program, but I think it may have been in Dr. June Matthew’s Professional Perspectives course at Brescia. She is a very motivating professor and that course was a big inspiration for me to learn more about Home Economics.
Why did you choose to be involved in the Mentorship Program?
As a transfer student coming into the food and nutrition program with only two years to complete, I felt I had a lot to learn about dietetics in a short amount of time. I was also curious to see how registered dietitians work outside of a hospital or long-term care facility setting, which was my only exposure to dietitians up to that point.
Who is your mentor?
Can you tell us about how you and your mentor first connected?
I had submitted my application to receive a mentor and a few weeks later I received an email from Pooja offering to mentor me. I was so excited to hear from her and to learn about her interesting career path. After chatting via email to get to know each other better, we set up a phone call to discuss her education and work experiences, and to address my questions about becoming a dietitian. After the phone call I remember feeling so relieved to get answers to some of my questions about the profession and motivation to move forward. Pooja was friendly, relatable, and had great insight to lend as I asked questions about graduate school and the internship application process.
How has your relationship with your mentor developed during your involvement in the program?
After our initial phone conversation, Pooja and I remained in contact primarily through email, where I would keep her updated on my schooling and summer work opportunities as they arose. Pooja continued to offer insight during this time and offered lots of advice on how to make the most out of these experiences. When it came time for me to apply for dietetic internships, Pooja was an amazing resource who drew on her experiences as an applicant and work experiences since becoming a dietitian. We had a few more phone calls during this time where Pooja kindly addressed my concerns, gave suggestions for my internship applications, eased my indecisiveness by discussing the pros and cons of different internship programs and gave knowledge of the interview process. I found it so helpful to have someone who had also gone through the same experience who had an understanding of the implications that others may not understand.
How have you benefited from your mentoring experience so far?
As I mentioned in my answers above, having someone who has lived similar experiences and understood my situation was so valuable. Pooja taking the time to affirm my decisions, provide a perspective different than my own, and share insights from her own experiences allowed me to gain a better understanding of the profession, and to have role model as I moved forward in the field of dietetics. While my undergraduate studies are completed, I will continue to draw on the information Pooja had shared with me and I hope to remain in contact with her throughout the dietetic internship and as I begin my career.
What would you say to a student considering the OHEA Mentorship Program?
I would absolutely recommend this program to other students. While I have provided examples specific to the experience of a nutrition student, I think this program would benefit anyone in the field of home economics whether it be through fashion, education, business, finance. While it may be intimating at first to discuss the industry with someone with more professional experience than you, the experience allows you to grow and learn in so many ways that would not be possible through school work. Facilitating a relationship with a professional will allow you to gain skills in professional correspondence, to better understand the language of the field, to learn about work opportunities you hadn’t considered, to network with new people in a variety of professions, and to give you a wider perspective beyond what you would gain as a student.
To learn more about OHEA's Mentorship program, click here!
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The Ontario Home Economics Association, a self-regulating body of professional Home Economists, promotes high professional standards among its members so that they may assist families and individuals to achieve and maintain a desirable quality of life.