Dietetic Career Spotlight Again on Wanda Siu-Chan, Dietetic Internship Director/Lecturer
By SARAH KOSZYK, MA RDN on JANUARY 1, 2017
I am so excited to introduce Wanda Siu-Chan, MS, RD, to you all. She originally did a spotlight back in 2010 and I had to revisit since her career has revamped and changed since then. Wanda has been an integral part of my personal career path. She was my internship director during my dietetic internship. Her support, care, and knowledge helped me become the dietitian I am today and I owe her a lot! Read on to learn more about how Wanda has changed the lives of many and made our dietetic profession an amazing industry. – Sarah
What attracted you to the field of nutrition and dietetics?
My favorite subject in high school was biology. I considered being a biology major in college. However, I realized that I didn’t want to work in a lab. In researching other majors, I found nutrition. I have to admit that going into the field of dietetics was not really planned but I am very glad that I did as I have enjoyed every job I have ever had, so it was definitely the right major for me! I know that dietetic students have had to plan far in advance and have to do a significant amount of dietetics work/volunteer experience to get into dietetic internships now so I really feel lucky that I got into the field when I did. It is so much harder now.
Your Job Title?
Dietetic Internship Director/Lecturer
Company you are with now?
San Francisco State University (SFSU)
Social Media: https://cfsd.sfsu.edu/people/faculty/wanda-siu–chan
Describe a typical (or not so typical) day-in-the-work-life for you?
As a dietetic internship director and a faculty member at SFSU, I have no typical day. For the internship, I spend a great amount of time doing administrative tasks such as e-mailing or calling interns and preceptors, juggling required paperwork for rotations, and making sure accreditation standards are met and documented. These tasks are not always the most rewarding, but what makes it all worthwhile is when an intern tells me that they are really enjoying and learning a lot in a rotation, or when a preceptor tell me that they love their intern and want to hire him/her. These things make my day! As a faculty member, I also teach classes for both interns and undergraduate students.
How did you get your current job in dietetics?
After becoming an RD and working for a few years, I decided to get my master’s degree because I wanted to learn more. I didn’t have a particular career goal in mind though. After completing the master’s degree, I started to look for other opportunities in the field. While still working as a full-time clinical dietitian, I took on an evening GE nutrition class at a community college. I really enjoyed it, and after a year, an opportunity came up at SFSU to teach the clinical nutrition classes, which seemed like a dream job!!! so I did that, while still working at the hospital. I eventually became the dietetic internship director.
What skills were you born with and what skills have you learned along the way?
I think I was born with initiative and a desire to help others: patients, students, interns, colleagues, etc… I have learned so many skills along the way that I can’t even list them. I do know that for every job and every volunteer opportunity that I have ever had, whether I liked it or not, that I learned something important and beneficial and was able to apply it again in the future. Every thing I have done in my career has been built on previous experiences. Right now, I learn so much from my interns – probably more than they learn from me.
What advice do you have for others wanting to be just as successful and fulfilled as you?
Definitely find something you enjoy doing. If you enjoy doing something, you’ll be better at it. Dietetics is such a broad field with so many diverse opportunities that there is something out there for everyone. If you are doing something you aren’t crazy about, at least use it as an opportunity to learn how to do something (or how not to do something). Also, be open-minded to new and different opportunities. For example, one of my former professors asked me very early on in my career to take on a volunteer position with the local dietetic association. I didn’t know how to say “no” and my “yes” led to me being active in the local and state dietetic associations on and off for almost 25 years! I have done some pretty mundane tasks like processing bulk mailings, but I have also had wonderful opportunities to practice collaboration and leadership skills, plan and organize events, and of course, meet some amazing dietetics professionals.
If you could be paid for your job with something other than a paycheck, what
would it be?
Hmmm…a trip to Berkeley Bowl (my favorite grocery store) or a fruit tree!