Dietetic Career Spotlight: Jenny Westerkamp, RD
By SARAH KOSZYK, MA RDN on NOVEMBER 17, 2011
Jenny Westerkamp, RD, is a true entrepreneur. Read on to learn how she started her own company while still in school and more!
What attracted you to the field of nutrition and dietetics?
I loved science and started as a biology major. I ended up taking a course in nutrition for a general education requirement and loved the application of the science. Then, as I was researching nutrition, I came across my now mentor and employer Julie Burns. She served as a source of inspiration to really make this field my own.
What company are you with now and what is your Job Title?
At SportFuel, Sports Nutritionist, SportFuel CEO. At All Access Internships, Author.
What is a typical (or not so typical) day-in-the-work-life for you?
Depends on the time of year! My work definitely follows the hockey season and the application season for students.
*9am* Check emails from SportFuel clients. Check in with Julie on hot items for the day.
*10am *Go see a SportFuel client
*11am* Work on a new project for Sportfuel (i.e., prepare a talk or workshop or do research)
*1pm *Go see 3 clients at the pilates studio where I have a weight loss program going on
*4pm* Answer many more emails and of course delegate to others :) May also work on an e-book. Currently working on my next publication: *Breakfast Lunch and Twitter: 140 Social Media Rules to Eat By*
*6pm* yoga or pilates!
*9pm* During the weeks leading up to application deadlines (in September and February), I do All Access Internships’ work at night, believe it or not! Must just be a habit I can’t break from when I started the website and was doing my dietetic internship during the day. I do like to separate that from other work though otherwise it is too distracting. Work here includes returning coaching client emails and developing content for webinars, the DI Bootcamp, and coaching resources for AAI Match Makers (trained coaches).
How did you get your current job in dietetics?
When I found Julie Burns’ SportFuel website through a Google search, I emailed her with the subject line: I want your job. From there, she offered me an internship for the summer. I stayed in touch, read any book she would suggest to me, and expressed interest in working for her. When I came back from my internship at Massachusetts General Hospital (the same internship she went to and encouraged me to apply to!), she hired me. I started as a part-time consultant, and after 18 months, I am a full-time employee!
I started All Access Internships in April 2008 with Katie Hamm, a friend that I connected with on the ADA student message board. We decided to start the website when I was a senior at University of Illinois and she was a junior at Kansas State University. She went on to do full time public relations work in 2009 and still helps coach students with their applications.
What skills were you born with and what skills have you learned along the way?
Born with leadership and confidence. Being the oldest in my family gave me leadership. Being the oldest with five brothers gave me confidence. I learned public speaking skills along the way and continue to improve with each speaking engagement and now love to speak! I also learned to take risks and be smart with my time (never do anything for free…EVER….even if it is your first speaking gig…NEVER FREE).
What advice do you have for others wanting to be just as successful and fulfilled as you?
After starting All Access Internships when I was a senior in college, the first lesson I quickly learned is that nothing will prepare me for being a nutrition entrepreneur. Once I realized that there were really no barriers to starting a business, I then applied that to other areas of my professional life. I started my career in sports nutrition private practice (not doing clinical first like many RDs suggest), writing three e-books in 2 years (who stops you from self-publishing?), and doing other professional activities that I should have “waited to do until I got more experience”. Those past accomplishments WERE my experience. I call my career the University of Life and I am learning as I go. Remember that nothing will prepare you for the unknown. Jump in and you will quickly learn how to swim.
If you could be paid for your job with something other than a paycheck, what would it be?:
–Does this mean it is supposed to be intangible? I think my answer would be Whole Foods gift certificates, Unlimited yoga and pilates for life?