Dietetic Career Spotlight Update on Heather Caplan, RD Real Talk Podcast
By SARAH KOSZYK, MA RDN on FEBRUARY 19, 2018
Meet Heather Caplan, RD, who I originally met at a networking event she organized. Heather has found jobs through her connections to fellow dietitians, through her stellar ability to network, and by researching online. Now, she has paved her own way and started her own company. Read on to learn more about Heather’s unique career path. – Sarah
What attracted you to the field of nutrition and dietetics?
Initially, a disordered relationship with food. I struggled with Orthorexia in college, though I didn’t know that at the time. I was VERY interested in “healthy eating!” and wanted to learn how to help other people eat healthier. As I recovered and worked on my own relationship with food and health, what keeps me drawn to the field of nutrition and dietetics is the variety of ways we, as dietitians, can work with people, companies, and each other to fuel our passions.
Your Job Title?
Hmm…I have a few, I guess. I own a private practice for nutrition counseling, and run coaching. I produce a weekly podcast, called RD Real Talk, and am a freelance writer. My most recent job title, at a startup focused on health content, I was the Director of Nutrition and Coaching. I still kind of do that, on my own!
Company you are with now?
My company, which is (predictably) Heather Caplan Coaching, LLC.
– Twitter: @heatherDCRD
– Facebook: facebook.com/RealTalkRD/
– Instagram: @RDRealTalk
Describe a typical (or not so typical) day-in-the-work-life for you?
I sometimes wish there was a typical day! But between podcast interviews, client calls, schedules for my running clients, freelance writing projects, and updating my own blog and weekly newsletter, every day is different. I do try to structure my workday to some extent, because I know I feel most creative in the morning, and have a bit of a lull in the afternoon. I use an online scheduler for client calls and podcast recordings, so they’re always in the late-morning, mid-afternoon, or early evening (depending on the day). I reserve the earlier hours for writing, email, and getting settled into the day. I try to block off at least one or two nights per week for myself, but keep some evening hours open because that’s when clients are free to chat. And I don’t do any client work on the weekends!
How did you get your current job in dietetics?
Well, I hired myself! But I came into owning a business because of the many jobs I had before starting my own company. I learned a lot from working at two (very different) startups over the past six years, and have carried those lessons into the work I do for myself. I’ve been recruited through LinkedIn, found work on CraigsList (two full-time jobs, one part-time role at a gym), and put a lot of energy into maintaining personal connections with RDs near and far. I know that networking, and having those relationships with each other, is far more important than what my cover letter might say.
What skills were you born with and what skills have you learned along the way?
I guess in some sense I was born with a desire to create, but I think creativity has to be honed and practiced (and nurtured). I like to think I’m good at connecting to people, and storytelling. I’ve had to work pretty hard on time management, focus, being accountable to myself, and keeping my impulsive tendencies at bay. Thanks to a few random jobs, I’ve learned how to make “Magical Moments” (at Disney), how to operate a chainsaw, and how to stack books in a library.
Through many mentors and great bosses, I’ve learned how to keep myself organized, how to implement processes for projects, and how to think through big ideas before putting them into practice (though, I’m still working on that one). I’ve also learned that it’s OK to TRY something before you feel fully ready to do it—actually, I think that’s basically my business, in a nutshell.
What advice do you have for others wanting to be just as successful and fulfilled as you?
First, think about how you define success and what it will mean for you. I only consider myself “successful” in that I’m doing work that I’m both excited and passionate about, that I find fulfilling, and that has also (luckily) translated to a livable income. I feel fulfilled because I’m being true, and paying attention to what excites me in nutrition and health—the clients I can and want to help the most. I know where my role is, but it took a while to get there–and it took some experimenting, and open-mindedness. And I think it’s important to explore and then be sure of what you DON’T enjoy, or what doesn’t serve you. To learn how to say “no” can take a long time, and maybe won’t be possible right away. To know what’s worth saying “yes” to? That feels like success to me.