Dietetic Career Spotlight on Jackie H Sharp, MS, RDN, LD, ACSM-HFS, Walt Disney
By SARAH KOSZYK, MA RDN on AUGUST 14, 2014
Jackie Sharp works at the happiest place on earth: Disney World! She’s the dietitian for the employees making sure they are on top of their health and wellness. Learn how she landed her dream job through hard work, determination, and networking.- Sarah
What attracted you to the field of nutrition and dietetics?
I’ve been interested in this field since childhood. For that, I give credit to my mother, Caron Sharp, RD, LD, who has been a Registered Dietitian for 34 years and has worked in almost all areas of dietetics. I honestly have no negative memories of being raised by an RD. On the contrary, I remember how excited I was to have my mother come to my 3rd grade class and do a talk about healthy foods. To me they were normal foods that were always in the house. She helped me pack my lunches and snacks and I easily learned how to put together a healthy well-balanced meal at a young age. Growing up as a competitive gymnast, I personally experienced at a young age how large a role nutrition plays in athletic performance. I felt the effects of eating, both good and bad. Pairing that with my love for science and education, this industry was a no brainer for me.
Your Job Title:
Wellness Director with SodexoMAGIC at Walt Disney World Parks & Resorts
A typical (or not so typical) day-in-the-work-life for you:
A day in the work-life for me is typically never the same. I am usually working with our Culinary Director and Marketing Manager on menu development and marketing strategies, educating our SodexoMAGIC staff on wellness and how to best execute our programs to Cast Members. I get to teach healthy cooking classes, and work with incredible Chefs during our cooking demos that help teach Cast Members how to build an easy and healthy meal at home. I work closely with Disney’s Wellness team on developing strategies and to ensure a unified wellness message is communicated effectively to the Cast Members.
How did you get your current job in dietetics?
I am asked this question frequently. I would just say it’s a culmination of working hard on my education, (earned two undergraduate degrees and a Master’s degree), volunteering my time, networking, and being in the right place at the right time. I have always taken every opportunity I could possibly handle which has put me in the position to meet some of the greatest professionals in this industry. The opportunity to apply for my current position would not have been possible if I didn’t agree to volunteer for the “Let’s Go!” campaign in South Carolina. I wanted to take time to study for my RD exam and really focus on my own professional goals. Little did I know, agreeing to help this rural community opened the first door of endless opportunities.
What skills were you born with and what skills have you learned along the way?
I was born with the leadership and the drive to want to do something great for others. I have learned that through hard work and dedication to something you love, you will get to where you want to be in life. Patience and effective communication are two skills I have developed along the way. So often, we want to make a large impact immediately. Take small steps. They add up quickly!
What advice do you have for others wanting to be just as successful and fulfilled as you?
- Entertain every opportunity presented to you, big or small. It may be something that you have no desire doing. I am a believer in opportunities presenting themselves when the time is right. But, you need to put yourself in the situation where you are available for these opportunities to be presented. If you are sitting at home applying for jobs, who are you meeting and what relationships are you developing? Get involved and volunteer your time and expertise when necessary. It leads to many more opportunities.
- Also, find a mentor. Look around and find that person who you want to be one day. Reach out to them and pick their brain. If you are in a job where you can’t look around and find at least 1 person whose job you wish to have, you might want to rethink what you are doing. Make the most of that job but work towards something more fulfilling.
- No matter how big or small the project is, if you’re helping somebody change their life for the better, then you are doing what you love. Be willing to sacrifice. Put in the extra time to go above and beyond to help that one person. It will go a long way.
If you could be paid for your job with something other than a paycheck, what would it be?
There are so many different answers for this one! A paycheck doesn’t mean much to me if I’m not helping somebody reach their personal health and fitness goals. So I’d have to say the success of those I work with. It’s the greatest feeling! Traveling around the world would be a good trade-off as well!