Dietetic Career Spotlight: Elana Natker, Enlighten Nutrition
By SARAH KOSZYK, MA RDN on JANUARY 5, 2015
Elana Natker, MS, RDN, is the proud winner of a spotlight with NutritionJobs! We are honored to feature her accomplishments and career path on our website, newsletter, and social media feeds. Elana is an accomplished RDN who owns her own practice, Enlighten Nutrition, and wears many hats from communications expert to freelancer and more. With a background in Public Relations, Elana has used her experience and expertise to excel in her future endeavors and business. Read on to learn more. – Sarah
What attracted you to the field of nutrition and dietetics?
I have always been interested in health and wellness. My first career was in public relations, and it just so happened that most of my clients were in the areas of health, wellness and safety. I love helping people make better choices so they can live better, hopefully longer and more fulfilling lives. After almost 10 years in PR, I felt like I was a jack-of-all-trades – knowing a little about a lot of things: from fast-casual restaurants to building insulation to supply-chain management. But what I really wanted to do was focus in one area, study it, know it well, and be an expert. After some soul-searching, I realized nutrition and dietetics is where I wanted to be.
Your Job Title?
Whatever I want it to be! I’m a consultant, freelancer, nutrition communications expert…
Let’s just call me: Owner, Enlighten Nutrition.
Company you are with now?
Other Social Media links you would like to include:
– Twitter: @elanaRD
Describe a typical (or not so typical) day-in-the-work-life for you?
I wish I could! I start my day with a cup of coffee at my desk, poring over emails and updating my to-do list. I have 3 email accounts to keep track of, with tasks and appointments tied to each. Some days might be loaded with calls, some might be doing lots of writing. In my free time I catch up on social media, work on future blog posts, or just do some networking. When you love your work, it never feels like working!
How did you get your current job in dietetics?
Honestly, it’s by having a great network and having a little bit of luck. I just happened to be in the right place at the right time.
What skills were you born with and what skills have you learned along the way?
Some who know me might find this hard to believe, but I’m naturally quite shy and prefer to be alone vs in a group. The notion of “networking” was really scary to me starting out, and I’m not a natural “work the room” kind of gal. Took a lot of practice, and now I love it!
Another skill that probably wasn’t inherent is to think critically. I’m the second child and have always looked up to (OK, maybe idolized a little) my older sister who has always been super smart and successful. I figured that if I just did what she did, I’d be smart and successful too. I never thought to question why or seek my own path. It wasn’t until later in life I realized that hey – just because someone says something or does something means we should blindly follow. This is SO true in nutrition, where we need to peel away at the core truths and tune out the loud cacophony of popular opinion which might be emotional but not rational or rooted in science. Science isn’t as sexy as soapbox-speaking, but I’d rather be a lone voice of reason than merely follow the next, unsubstantiated fad which we’ll have to undo in 10, 20 years. Bottom line: we need to ask the questions and make our own decisions.
What advice do you have for others wanting to be just as successful and fulfilled as you?
Life is short. If you’re not happy, find a way to be happy. The future is in your hands, not your boss’, the government’s, your spouse’s, your kids’, your parents’, whoever…
If you could be paid for your job with something other than a paycheck, what
would it be?
With two young children who need to go to college someday, I certainly do enjoy getting paid. But taking money out of the equation, I would love to be paid with more time. If I could do what I do and get extra time with my kids, my husband, myself…what more could a person want?!