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What I learned from… Roles in Nutrition Case Studies

By Joe O'Brien, on 4 January 2021

Read time: 5 minutes

Written by Glyn Jones, Careers Consultant at UCL Careers.

Recently I revisited some case studies that I had collected from those working in the nutrition industry. Here I summarise some of the key skills and take home messages that came from the Roles within Nutrition Case Studies.

Communication

A large proportion of the roles in the case studies deal with people, therefore communication skills are key in this line of work. This could be in the form of presenting skills when delivering workshops or training; writing skills when preparing content to be circulated in written form (e.g. blogs, news articles or mailings); or interpersonal skills when building relationships or gathering information from clients. The extent to which you will use these skills depends on the specific role, however the need for clear communication between you and the client will always be crucial.

Compassion

Many of the roles in nutrition mention how they involve helping clients with their diet, welfare or general health. As a result, understanding a clients’ needs and demonstrating compassion for this is essential. Through demonstrating an understanding of this, you will be able to relate to clients and support them in their situation. Some clients may be in a particularly vulnerable situation or some may have a misinformed idea of what course of action they need to take. It’s important to be able to understand a client’s thought processes whilst working with them in order to come up with a plan of action to overcome their challenges.

Passion for the cause

Passion for a subject or cause was something that many of our case study contributors mentioned as being important in their line of work. This could be a passion for nutrition itself, the health and wellbeing that stems from this, or perhaps a drive to help people and make a difference. This passion may have developed from research carried out during your studies, or through keeping up to date with the latest developments in your particular field of interest. You might find yourself discussing these topics during an interview or as part of an application process.

Applying your expertise

Postgraduate qualifications are mentioned in many of the case studies. This won’t be the only way to work in the industry, however it does seem to be a well-trodden path. Further study provides knowledge and understanding of how theories can be applied when working in the industry. Through gaining these insights, you’ll equip yourself with practical information that can be used when interacting with clients, a skill that is particularly useful in this industry.

In addition to this maintaining an awareness of the latest trends of nutrition is important. With new initiatives regularly being featured in the media, it is key that nutrition professionals have sound knowledge and expertise of these latest developments. It is important to be able to navigate these different approaches in order to discuss the most suitable treatment for clients. This is also useful to rectify any misinformation that clients may have received.

Networking

Another aspect of a postgraduate study that can prove valuable is the networks that you create. These could be lecturers, tutors or guest speakers that you come into contact with during the course. One of the case studies mentions the importance of staying in in touch with your lecturers after graduating, as it can lead to further connections or being notified of possible future opportunities.

Many of the case study contributors mentioned how they sourced volunteering or work experience either as part of their course or by proactively approaching suitable organisations. Due to current restrictions, there will be limitations on how much of this is currently possible. However, reaching out to professionals working in the industry could still provide valuable insights and information that can help with future job hunting and applications. This could be within the NHS, or at private clinics, charities or commercial businesses that offer nutrition support. You may even find that these networks can lead to longer term professional relationships and the possibility of future employment.

Demonstrate your skillset

Relevant study or experience are both great ways of equipping yourself with skills that will help you get into your future roles associated with nutrition. However the case studies do mention other ways you can hone your skills and make yourself a suitable candidate for certain roles. With such emphasis on communication, it may be that you aren’t required to have direct experience speaking with clients about topics related to nutrition. Your communication skills could be demonstrated through a more general role associated with health or offering support, through an online customer service role or even through producing your own written content (e.g. writing a blog). In any industry, it’s useful to be able to clearly demonstrate your skillset with sound examples. If you’re able to add demonstrable passion and enthusiasm for the cause on top of that, you’re likely to be a strong candidate for future roles.

To find out more about a range of different roles associated with nutrition amongst other industries, please take a look at the UCL Careers Case Studies. For information on how to develop your skills, be sure to visit the UCL Careers Skills Hub and if you wish to discuss your career options or possible next steps, you’re able to do so by booking an appointment with UCL Careers.

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