Dietetic Career Spotlight on Jessica Levings, Balanced Pantry
By SARAH KOSZYK, MA RDN on FEBRUARY 1, 2017
Meet Jessica Levings, MS, RDN, who works from home doing her dream job. Want to learn how you can work from home? Check out what Jessica has to say. – Sarah
What attracted you to the field of nutrition and dietetics?
When I was in high school I was really involved in endurance sports – swimming, cross country, track, and soccer. I could tell I performed better after eating more healthfully leading up to an event and I developed a natural interest in nutrition. When I started college at the University of Florida I couldn’t decide what to major in and my anatomy professor suggested I talk to the UF sports nutritionist. It had never occurred to me to major in nutrition (at the time I was studying journalism) but after meeting with her for just 30 minutes I knew I wanted to be a dietitian; I went straight from her office to change my major.
Your Job Title?
Registered Dietitian Nutritionist, Owner, Balanced Pantry
Company you are with now?
– Twitter: @balancedpantry
– Facebook: Facebook.com/balancedpantry1
– LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/jessicalevings
Describe a typical (or not so typical) day-in-the-work-life for you?
Every day is different, which is one of the things I like most. No matter what I have scheduled, I usually check email first thing in the morning to stay on top of new projects or requests, and remind myself of upcoming deadlines. I’m often working on a print or online article, so after catching up on my scheduling I’ll write for an hour or two, and then spend about 30 – 60 minutes checking and updating my social media accounts. If I’m working on labels or recipe analysis without a tight deadline, I’ll devote the afternoon to it. I’m currently working on a social media and branding project for a local company so a lot of my time lately has been spent working on this one project.
How did you get your current job in dietetics?
I launched Balanced Pantry in April of 2016 after almost 7 years of working on the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s Sodium Reduction Initiative. For the last 3 of those 7 years I was fortunate enough to work from home permanently after my family and I moved back to Florida. However, I knew it wasn’t going to work long term so I started looking into other options in my area. The majority of nutrition-related jobs in my immediate area are in clinical dietetics which is not for me, so I decided to take the plunge and start my own business. I had a hard time deciding what my niche would be before I started Balanced Pantry, so I did some soul-searching thinking about what my natural nutrition-related interests were and what I was good at. I finally realized it was food labeling, writing, and marketing/branding so that’s what I based my business on.
What skills were you born with and what skills have you learned along the way?
I was a born writer, communicator, and people-person. Patience and saying “no” to things I don’t want to do are skills I continue to learn.
What advice do you have for others wanting to be just as successful and fulfilled as you?
Never underestimate the value of networking, find and keep a great mentor (shout out to you, Cindy Culver!) and don’t stay in a job just because it looks good on paper. My husband is also self-employed and when I was thinking of leaving CDC most people thought I was crazy. Many of our friends and family members told me I should just be happy with what I had – a great job with benefits where I was lucky enough to work from home – instead of wanting more. I knew without a doubt it was the right move and luckily my husband was totally on board, so I just made the decision and didn’t look back. I haven’t regretted it for a second!
If you could be paid for your job with something other than a paycheck, what
would it be?
Cheese, or all-expenses-paid vacations.